Monday, October 19, 2015

My Ten Favorite Comedies

Clearly, I like my comedies old-fashioned.  Of the ten titles here, three were made in the '90s, and the rest were made in the '50s and '60s.  These are all what I consider "non-romantic" comedies -- my list of favorite rom-coms is here.  The first of these is also on my list of favorite Christmas movies.


1. We're No Angels (1955)

Three escaped convicts (Humphrey Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray) try to rescue a bumbling businessman (Leo G. Carroll) from his unscrupulous cousin (Basil Rathbone). One of the two funniest movies I have ever seen, and also one of the most heart-warming.  DO NOT get the 1989 remake by mistake.

2.  Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962)

Roger Hobbs (James Stewart) and his wife Peggy (Maureen O'Hara) vacation with their family in a decidedly eccentric house, encountering many gently comic adventures.  This is one of those movies I quote all the time in my head.

3.  The Russians are Coming!  The Russians are Coming! (1966)

A Russian submarine gets stuck on a sandbar outside a tiny New England village, and Lt. Rosanov (Alan Arkin) goes ashore to find a way to free it without starting World War Three.  This is the other funniest movie I have ever seen, and I'm way overdue for a rewatch.

4.  Oscar (1991)

A wealthy mobster (Sylvester Stallone) tries to go straight and become a banker, but is constantly hindered by everyone from his daughter and wife to the chauffeur, an elocutionist, and some supposedly vicious tailors.  I am not a big fan of screwball comedies, which this resembles, but oh, this movie makes me laugh.

5.  Father Goose (1964)

A misanthropic drunk (Cary Grant) reluctantly becomes an island spotter during WWII and winds up on a deserted island caring for a group of young girls and their oh-so-proper chaperon (Leslie Caron).  This is both sweet and salty, and I love it dearly.

6.  Monkey Business (1952)

A scientist (Cary Grant) tests an anti-aging formula on himself and his wife (Ginger Rogers), with unexpected results.  Marilyn Monroe has a small role too.  This is one of the few movies that Cowboy will willingly watch over and over.

7.  Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Two soldiers (Kenneth Branagh and Robert Sean Leonard) woo cousins (Emma Thompson and Kate Beckinsale) in Shakespeare's classic dramedy about how what we believe about someone might be more important to us than the truth.

8.  The Odd Couple (1968)

Fussbudget Felix (Jack Lemmon) and slob Oscar (Walter Matthau), try to share an apartment while Felix tries to come to terms with his recent divorce.  It's delicious.

9.  Dave (1993)

A lowly temp agent (Kevin Kline) who impersonates the President for fun gets called on to impersonate him for real when the actual President has a stroke.  It's kind of like The Prince and the Pauper, only happier.

10.  Harvey (1950)

A gentle tippler (James Stewart) has a giant, invisible rabbit named Harvey for a best friend.  His sister takes him to a psychiatric hospital to get rid of the rabbit, with surprising results.  Oh, this movie warms my heart.  It's less laugh-out-loud funny than the other titles here, but I do get some chuckles from it too.

34 comments:

  1. I really want to watch Much Ado about Nothing. I've heard so much good about it!

    My favourite comedy, is, without doubt, Jeeves and Wooster. Have you seen it? If you haven't, you should - it's SUCH GEM. Seriously, I generally dislike comedies, but that series I just love. :-) I especially adore Wooster, hehe.

    ~ Naomi

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    1. Naomi, do be aware that there is some nudity in a non-sexual context at the beginning of it -- a communal bathing scene, basically, with the women all washing and dressing inside to get ready for the soldiers to arrive, and the soldiers are all washing/swimming in a pond or river or something outside.

      I just got the first season of Jeeves & Wooster!!!! I've only seen the first ep so far, but my goodness, it's hilarious. I laughed and laughed.

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    2. Yeah, thanks, I heard about that. :-/

      Ohh! I'm so glad you're enjoying it so far! Isn't it hilaaarious?!!

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    3. Naomi, at least it's easy to see coming and skip, and not intrinsic to the plot.

      My mom really likes "House," and I can't wait to show her J&W because I think she'll trip out over Hugh Laurie so young and funny :-)

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    4. The nudity is also shot quite quickly. If you're not concentrating on it, you really don't see all that much.

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  2. I've already mentioned loving MAAN ... I love the sparring between Benedick and Beatrice and the lovely bits of physical comedy (Branagh v. chair), etc.

    The "Monkey Business" I love (although I love "Duck Soup" more) belongs to four guys named Marx.

    And there's Young Frankenstein -- which I can almost quote verbatim. I just love Marty Feldman, who (IMHO) stole the movie out from under Gene Wilder's nose.

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    1. Janet, yes, while I do like Branagh's dramas, I love him most in comedic roles, especially this one.

      I kind of like the Marx Brothers, though I've only seen a couple of their movies, "Duck Soup" and something else I forget right now.

      "Young Frankenstein" is great :-D "Roll, roll, roll in zee hay!"

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    2. "Igor, help me with the bags."

      "Ok. I'll take the blonde and you take the one in the turban!"

      Did you ever notice that the scriptwriter for Raiders of the Lost Ark seemed to borrow a line from YF?

      Igor: "Wait Master, it might be dangerous... you go first."

      Sallah: "Asps, Indy. Very dangerous ... you go first."

      Almost forgot: OSS117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (french, staring Jean Dujardin

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    3. Janet, hah! I never noticed the similarity in those lines.

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  3. This looks like such a great list! My family loves old comedies. I haven't heard of some of these. I LOVE Father Goose, though. It's definitely one of our favorites!

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    1. Thanks, Natalie! I heartily recommend all these, with the caveat about content in MAAN I mentioned in reply to Naomi's comment. The older ones are all golden -- I hope you find some new ones to enjoy here!

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  4. I'd never heard of Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation before, but I LOVE Jimmy Stewart and Maureen O'Hara so I definitely want to give that a try!

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    1. Miss Dashwood, it is a sweet and charming, gentle comedy. I hope you can find and watch it!

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  5. Good choices! I've seen Monkey Business, Harvey, Much Ado About Nothing and Father Goose. They're all great but Father Goose is a special favorite of mine. :)

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    1. Lois, thanks! Father Goose is simply delightful, isn't it?

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  6. "This looks like a snake!!"

    "Is it getting hot in here?"

    "Married?! GOODY TWO SHOES AND THE FILTHY BEAST??"

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    1. Charity, oh man, we quote that movie All The Time. Every time we cook with coconut milk, I am compelled to say, "Young coconuts must love it!" And one of my dad's favorite things to say is, "You know what 'fat chance' means?"

      I also love "We could have used so-and-so if he hadn't gotten himself eaten that way." "You needn't make him sound such a shirker, Stebbins."

      Oh, it's such a great movie. Love it to bits!

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  7. I'll have to check out that Much Ado About Nothing (keeping in mind what you told Naomi about content, of course :) ) because I really, really love Shakespeare movies when they're well-done.

    Speaking of which, have I ever asked you before if you've seen Helen Mirren in the 1970s BBC version of "As You Like It?" The whole thing is available on YouTube, and it's really, REALLY good. Especially Helen Mirren--she totally rocks Rosalind. And the others are pretty amazing, too, especially Jacques and Touchstone.

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    1. Jessica, pretty much if Kenneth Branagh is involved, it's well-done Shakespeare.

      I have not seen the Helen Mirren version of AYLI, but I'll check it out sometime! Thanks!

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    2. Have you seen her in The Tempest from 2010? That was really well-done, too--although unconventional, because they made Prospero a female character instead of a male. At first it freaked me out, but I became reconciled once I saw what a great job Helen Mirren was doing with it. I enjoyed the movie much, much more than I'd expected to. It's actually part of the reason why "The Tempest" is one of my two top favorite Shakespeare plays :)

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    3. Jessica, nope, haven't seen that either. It does look really cool, though!

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  8. Monkey Business was a fun film. Cary Grant is always fun to watch. No one can deliver witty dialogue like him nowadays. I liked The Odd Couple as well. One of Jack Lemmon's classics! My favorite of his is still Some Like it Hot though. I need to watch other films that I have not seen. I always enjoy a good old classic comedy.

    -James

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    1. James, yes, Cary Grant can really zing those one-liners and double entendres, can't he?

      I do like Some Like it Hot too :-)

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  9. Of the ones I've seen, Father Goose is my favorite off your list. Dave is one of the very few "modern-day" comedies I've seen—I still remember the scene where he came home singing "Oklahoma" at the top of his voice, and the part where he mistakenly shouted "Go! Go! Go!" making his speech from the balcony. :)

    On another note, I tagged you for the Behind-the-Scenes Writing Tag, if you'd like to participate!

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    1. Elisabeth Grace, yes! I love that moment in Dave too. And I have a tendency to sing his version of "Hail to the Chief" in the shower, I must admit. "Hail to the chief, he's the one we all say 'hail' to. He's got all the power; that's why he's in the shower!"

      Thanks for the tag! I'll check it out :-)

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  10. Father Goose is the only one I've seen on your list but I've added nearly all the others to my watch list! Father Goose was so fun and enjoyable, Cary Grant was a hoot and the sense of humor delicious! XD

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    1. Jamie, how cool! I hope you like the other movies too :-) Father Goose is just plain funny, isn't it?

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  11. Oh, I reeeeeeaally want to see that Much Ado one of these days as it's my favorite Shakespeare play. *sigh* I just keep tossing back and forth about the iffy items.... :p

    FYI, I've also tagged you here: http://ladyofanorien.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-awesome-food-award.html. ;) Enjoy!

    And you're reading The Bourne Identity?!?! That one's been intriguing me immensely, but I haven't had brain space to even research it at all yet. I did see a little of the film (or is it films?) a few months ago. Anyhow, can't wait for your review!

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    1. Heidi, Much Ado is my 2nd-fave Shakespeare play! I was thinking of doing a read-along of it next year maybe.

      The iffy stuff is pretty easy to skip, and if you ever decide to try it, I could even give you exact time cues of where to start and stop. There's also one other small moment where it's implied that two characters are getting it on, shall we say -- no nudity, but it's obvious what they're up to.

      I'm actually reading The Bourne Identity for the third time. I adore it. I've read the two original sequels too, Supremacy and Ultimatum, but the first is my favorite. Quite a bit of bad language and some non-graphic, non-explicit lovemaking -- I'll report more on that when I review it.

      I've seen all 4 of the recent Bourne movies -- the first of those is my favorite too, but they have very little to do with the books. Just the basic idea of a guy with amnesia who learns he's called Jason Bourne and has a reputation as a ruthless assassin -- from there, they deviate a ton, though they do use some code names and character names here and there from the books, but generally in different ways. However, I recently saw the '80s TV movie version of The Bourne Identity starring Richard Chamberlain and was delighted by how perfectly he fit the book version of the character, and how close they stuck to the book's plot. So I'm re-reading the book as a result :-)

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    2. Oh, and thanks for the tag!

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  12. Fun list! I should watch Much Ado About Nothing…it has such a great cast!:D

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    1. Thanks, Olivia! Yeah, there are some awesome people in Much Ado -- Don Pedro is probably my favorite Denzel Washington role!

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  13. Father Goose! I love that movie. Haven't seen it in ages, need to dig it back out again soon. And Much Ado About Nothing is a favorite of mine as well. I forget, have you seen the newest b&w version?

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    1. Kara, yes, Father Goose is so golden! But I haven't watched it ages either. I haven't seen the new Much Ado even though I've owned it since it came to DVD! Isn't that terrible?

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