Golden Age Comedy Hall of Fame (1952-1976)

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OK, I lied...there are only three I have never seen...I have never seen Hobson's Choice, Charade, and A Shot in the Dark. Looking forward to having an excuse to re-watch some of them though.



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

This is one of the movies that I mentioned earlier that I've seen several times over the years, but I've only been lukewarm towards the movie. While I like the movie, I still don't get why it's considered a great comedy. There are some funny lines, and several of the characters are played very "over-the-top", but there's not much in the movie that makes me laugh. Dr. Strangelove just feels like a lighter version of the movie Fail-Safe, with some jokes thrown in to lighten the mood.

There are some scenes that made me smile, like when Mandrake didn't have change for the payphone to call the President, but this movie just feels more like a light drama to me.

Now that doesn't mean that I didn't like the movie. I think this is a very good movie, and it held my interest throughout the movie. I just don't get the comedic side of the movie. I can see how it wants to be funny, and it's definitely not a heavy drama like Fail-Safe, but somehow, it just doesn't make me laugh. (But I'm sure that I'm in the minority on this.)

I think this is a very good movie, and a good nomination for the HoF, and I wouldn't be upset if it won the HoF, I just don't think it's my type of humor.
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Never has the absurdity of war been so bitingly and accurately skewered as it was in the 1964 classic Dr. Strangelove: Or How Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. a scorching black comedy that sheds a very unflattering but unfortunately probably spot-on look not only at war, but the mental capacities of the people who have their hands on the button.

Director Stanley Kubrick has created his masterpiece here, chronicling what happens when a clearly insane military general who triggers an attack on the Soviet Union that could lead to nuclear holocaust and how the President of the US and his advisers try to deal with the repercussions.

Released during the infancy of the Vietnam War, this film probably ruffled a lot of feathers in Washington, though I don't know for sure, since I was only six year old at the time, but the film can now be cherished for the scathingly brilliant satire that it is.

Kubrick's masterful direction is only surpassed by the brilliantly tongue-in-cheek screenplay by Kubrick, Terry Southern, and Peter George, that was clearly robbed of an Oscar. As for casting, it's perfection...Peter Sellers' powerhouse performance where he effortlessly brings three different characters to life is a joy to behold. Sellers, too, was robbed of an Oscar for Outstanding Lead Actor. My personal favorite of his three characters was President Muffley, who is given the best line in the movie and whose first phone conversation with the President of the USSR (Dimitri) to explain what's going on had me on the floor. Sellers has never made me laugh so hard, and I've seen most of the Pink Panther movies. Kubrick pulled the performance of his career out of Sterling Hayden as the insane general as was George C. Scott's bigoted military leader who is possibly as crazy as Hayden's character. Scott is brash and funny and was Oscar-worthy as well.

Kubrick's attention to detail in bringing this epic story to life works on every level. The black and white photography only adds to the realism and there is impressive art direction and inventive camerawork, but it is the Oscar worthy work by Kubrick, Sellers, Scott, Southern, and George that make this one sizzle and earn it the well-deserved reputation of a classic.

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Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



What's Up Doc?



Eunice: I'm not looking for romance, Howard.
Howard: Oh?
Eunice: No, I'm looking for something more important than that, something stronger. As the years go by, romance fades and something else takes its place. Do you know what that is?
Howard: Senility?
Eunice: Trust!
Howard: That's what I meant.

For me, this continually hits on so many levels. From the first time that I saw it in the theater back in second grade and throughout my life. The quick, almost Vauldvillan dialogue, the throwback to screwball comedies where a simple mix up goes completely off the rails, to everyone who is cast in this. Even to the smallest role (cameo), Bogdanovich has, at his disposal, an amazing comedic crew to work with.
I will attempt to leave it to the top four: Streisand and O'Neil carry this beautifully and their chemistry can not be denied. Their two very opposite personalities make such a delightful comedic duo. O'Neil's deadpan to Streisand's fast-paced comebacks is a joy.
Third, with her movie debut, is Madeline Kahn as O'Neil's frantic, frumpy fiance Eunice. A character that could easily be dismissed in another film, is a shining addition to the ensemble.
Finally, Kenneth Mars who's off-kilter characters in a number of films are complete scene stealers, he does just that here with his Hugh Simon, O'Neil's competition for a grant.


Co-written by Buck Henry who, for some of us, is known for being the co-creator for the spy spoofing TV comedy show "Get Smart", this movie has two premises. The first, 4 exactly identical traveling bags with very important items therein and their inevitable mix up. Secondly, Barbara Streisand pursing and causing all kinds of trouble for Ryan O'Neil. Climaxing in a humorous car chase that had become quite the staple for action films at that time.
All of this never gets confusing or so outlandish you roll your eyes and head at it all.
It is all quite well-balanced, beautifully paced with comedic timing and wit and one helluva fun ride.
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They say: that after people make love there's a kind of melancholia, the petite mort, the little death. Well, I'm here to tell you, after a romantic night with yourself there's a very acute sensation of failed suicide. ~Dylan Moran



Teacher's Pet

Overall a really pleasant watch. I'd never even heard of this movie, so didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be a good experience. The characters were pretty interesting and the acting was mostly really good, although the psychologist is wooden. The basic premise of Teacher's Pet is the overarching debate between what's better - education or experience. The movie goes back and forth, as the two main characters have opposing viewpoints, and decides that both are very important. The ending was very well done in this respect. That said, the movie was far too long, could have been cut down a good half hour and not lose any of its importance. But there were some sparkling scenes in the movie, like the restaurant scene and the class scenes.




Hobson's Choice (1954)

I liked this movie a lot. The movie is highlighted by three terrific performances by Charles Laughton, Brenda de Banzie, and John Mills. It was nice to see an old classic movie where the woman is the strongest character in the film.

My favorite scene was watching Charles Laughton trying to catch the moon in the puddles. Laughton is usually known more for his dramatic roles, but in this movie he proves that he's a master of playing a comedic role too.

WARNING: "SPOILERS about the ENDING of "Hobson's Choice"!!!" spoilers below
I loved the "switch" in the roles of Henry and William from the beginning to the end of the movie. John Mills shows that he can hold his own against anyone, even Charles Laughton, with William's transformation from an uneducated, low-level worker to an intelligent and confident man.


I would have liked to see a little bit more of the other two sisters and the men that they wanted to marry, but at least we got to see how their relationships played out.

Overall this was a great movie and an excellent nomination for this HoF.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Had a feeling it would one you'd enjoy @gbgoodies -- VERY glad to hear it.
Did a rewatch of one of your noms, Murder By Death and should get a review up for it along with Blazing Saddles later this evening or tomorrow.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?


Murder By Death

Willie Wang: Why do I do all the dirty work, Pop?
Sidney Wang: 'Cause your mother not here to do it.

Neil Simon penned this fun little spoof of literal detectives going to a dinner and a murder by Twain, played by Truman Capote, who's intent is to fool them all and prove him the best literal investigator of them all.

With an incredible cast that is near impossible to pick a favorite since they all shine and have great lines as well as scenes in this dark mansion; sleuthing their way through the night to solve the murder and not get killed themselves.
I've always enjoyed the little inside jokes and banter while paying a comedic homage to the ole great detectives. Playing out much like many of their mysteries and taking delightful pokes as the night progresses.

One impressive thing that you don't see too much of anymore is that even though ther are a total of ten guests (a detective plus one), the host, a blind butler and a deaf/mute cook, everyone gets equal time and nothing gets lost in the crowd as far as what transpires during dinner, murder and sleuthing.
Everything and everyone flows quite beautifully and if you enjoy the old sleuths of times gone by then you'll love this lil spoof of them.
I always have.



Captain Steel's Avatar
"Lois, I never lie."


Murder By Death

Willie Wang: Why do I do all the dirty work, Pop?
Sidney Wang: 'Cause your mother not here to do it.
Ah, such memories! Unfortunately, I was a little too young to appreciate this movie when my parents first took me to see it - I didn't know the references.

Only later would I learn who all these characters were based on. And to have so many characters by different authors assembled in one place! (I have a thread dedicated to films that do this.)

This movie is a gem. The writing (the banter) alone is worth its weight in gold!

Trivia: in some versions (not sure if it was the theatrical one), after the credits, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (unnamed of course) show up too late for the party!



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



Blazing Saddles

Taggart: I got it! I know how we can run everyone out of Rock Ridge.
Hedley Lamarr: How?
Taggart: We'll kill the first born male child in every household.
Hedley Lamarr: [after some consideration] Too Jewish.

The very first time I saw this I was in fourth grade. There was a nearby movie theater in a strip mall with only two theaters set up like a split hallway from the entrance, past the refreshment stand to the movie theaters themselves.
They'd show a G or PG film in one and a R rated in the other. We'd buy a G rated film ticket and, near the back before the doors to watch the films was a golden barred partition. We'd slip through that and watch a R rated film instead.
Such as this.
I literally peed myself during the camp fire bean eating scene and have loved this irreverent western spoof filled with fourth wall breaking of every kind imaginable since then.

Co-written with Richard Pryor who was originally slated to play Bart, the new Sheriff of Rock Ridge, I'm really quite happy that it was Cleavon Little instead. Giving a certain panache to the role that he seems to be having all sorts of fun with. As well as the rest of the cast seemed to.

As previously stated, this is one of my two favorites of Mel Brooks and both I own and watch quite often and still laugh VERY loudly throughout.
While only occasionally peeing myself.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Ah, such memories! Unfortunately, I was a little too young to appreciate this movie when my parents first took me to see it - I didn't know the references.

Only later would I learn who all these characters were based on. And to have so many characters by different authors assembled in one place! (I have a thread dedicated to films that do this.)

This movie is a gem. The writing (the banter) alone is worth its weight in gold!

Trivia: in some versions (not sure if it was the theatrical one), after the credits, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (unnamed of course) show up too late for the party!
They mention it on IMDb when it was shown on FOX. Peter Sellers character gives them directions and when his son asks him why didn't he warn them, he tells him, "Let idiots find out themselves. Drive."

I was a bit young and missed out on knowing Niven and Smith's characters were the Thin Man Series and who exactly Truman Capote was and the great irony of him raging about the way his guests' books were written.
I also didn't catch this until watching this last night:
The host's name is Lionel Twain. He lives at 22 Twain. (Lionel Trains, two two train aka choo choo train)



Had a feeling it would one you'd enjoy @gbgoodies -- VERY glad to hear it.
Did a rewatch of one of your noms, Murder By Death and should get a review up for it along with Blazing Saddles later this evening or tomorrow.

I had already seen Hobson's Choice before this HoF, so I knew that it was one of the movies that I like, but it's been a while since I last saw it, so it was a pleasure to watch it again.

I always think it's interesting to see an actor who has had a long career in something early in their career, and then again in something later in their career. If you like John Mills in Hobson's Choice, here's a video of him from the musical Cats from 1998, (when he was Sir John Mills). After all these years, he was still amazing to watch.




Ah, such memories! Unfortunately, I was a little too young to appreciate this movie when my parents first took me to see it - I didn't know the references.

Only later would I learn who all these characters were based on. And to have so many characters by different authors assembled in one place! (I have a thread dedicated to films that do this.)

This movie is a gem. The writing (the banter) alone is worth its weight in gold!
I think one of the reasons that I've always loved Murder By Death is because I grew up watching the old classic movies, so even when I was younger, I knew who most of the detectives were spoofing. However I didn't know who Truman Capote was at the time, so it was kind of strange finding out about him years later.


Trivia: in some versions (not sure if it was the theatrical one), after the credits, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (unnamed of course) show up too late for the party!
I always thought I remembered a scene like that, but nobody else seemed to know anything about it, so I just thought it was something that I either dreamed or imagined. Thank you for finally letting me know that I wasn't just crazy.



I also didn't catch this until watching this last night:
The host's name is Lionel Twain. He lives at 22 Twain. (Lionel Trains, two two train aka choo choo train)

I didn't catch that either. Thanks for the info.




What's Up Doc (1972)

I enjoyed What's Up Doc even more the second time around! It's a rom-com screwball comedy that hearkens back to the classic screwball films of the 1930s. I heard that director/writer Peter Bogdanovich was a big fan of the 30s screwball Bringing Up Baby and that film inspired this one. It's easy to see too...with Ryan O'Neal as the nerdy professor who doesn't have a clue as to what's going on and Barbra Streisand as the wacky strong willed woman who pursues him, and pursues and pursues! One could easily see Katherine Hepburn or Carole Lombard playing the role of the eccentric 'Judy' and Fred MacMurray or Cary Grant playing the clueless 'Howard.'

Barbra Streisand not only sings amazingly here, but she's funny as the free spirited Judy. Ryan O'Neal is good too as the straight guy. Big kudos to Madeline Kahn, she's so damn good in this! I think she's a big part of why this film works so well. Just thinking about her uptight character Eunice makes me laugh

Kenneth Mars works well too here, he plays it very big but then again this is a big screwball comedy. My favorite under sung actor was Austin Pendleton. He plays the head of the music foundation that's giving the coveted financial grant out. It was clever script writing having Pendleton instantly warming up to Judy. Which shows the audience that Judy is indeed desirable, if only dense-as-an-ingenious rock Howard would see that! Well of course Howard does discover Judy, and realize she's much more fun than wig-wearing-whining Eunice.

The other grand fun was the exuberant chase scene down the hills of San Francisco. I freeze framed some of that and damn, those speeding cars came within inches of the stuntmen holding that big sheet of glass! Talk about crazy stunts. You'll never ever see anything done like that in today's movies. When you see the cars drive down those long steps in the park chase scene, look at what the Taxi Cab does...it bottoms out on a step and takes out a huge chunk of cement! I later read that Bogdanovich did that shot without permission and the scars on the steps are still there today. If I ever get to San Francisco the first thing I want to see are those steps!



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
yes, Pendleton WAS excellent in this. Quite a few great lines and so much fun to watch throughout.

And I remember talking about the steps. In fact, the city of San Fran insists on a detailed, frame by frame description of any stunt done within city limits from then on.
And, while I cannot completely confirm OR discredit it, it was rumored that Peter Bogdanovich's response to the damage done to the stairs was:



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
I had already seen Hobson's Choice before this HoF, so I knew that it was one of the movies that I like, but it's been a while since I last saw it, so it was a pleasure to watch it again.

I always think it's interesting to see an actor who has had a long career in something early in their career, and then again in something later in their career. If you like John Mills in Hobson's Choice, here's a video of him from the musical Cats from 1998, (when he was Sir John Mills). After all these years, he was still amazing to watch.

awww, that was very lovely, thank you.
I still have not seen Cats and should at some point, check it out.



Captain Steel's Avatar
"Lois, I never lie."
I think one of the reasons that I've always loved Murder By Death is because I grew up watching the old classic movies, so even when I was younger, I knew who most of the detectives were spoofing. However I didn't know who Truman Capote was at the time, so it was kind of strange finding out about him years later.




I always thought I remembered a scene like that, but nobody else seemed to know anything about it, so I just thought it was something that I either dreamed or imagined. Thank you for finally letting me know that I wasn't just crazy.

They say the Sherlock Holmes scene was deleted, although I swear I saw it in a televised version (whether it was on regular TV, a cable channel or PBS, I don't remember). Maybe they stuck the scene back in for certain versions of the movie. And the scene can be seen on YouTube also.



Captain Steel's Avatar
"Lois, I never lie."
They mention it on IMDb when it was shown on FOX. Peter Sellers character gives them directions and when his son asks him why didn't he warn them, he tells him, "Let idiots find out themselves. Drive."

I was a bit young and missed out on knowing Niven and Smith's characters were the Thin Man Series and who exactly Truman Capote was and the great irony of him raging about the way his guests' books were written.
I also didn't catch this until watching this last night:
The host's name is Lionel Twain. He lives at 22 Twain. (Lionel Trains, two two train aka choo choo train)
One thing that Murder By Death threw me off with was that, for most of my life, I thought Nick and Nora Charles were British (due to David Niven & Maggie Smith playing their homage-characters in the movie). I thought their being British was why they were popular!

Then (and it wasn't too long ago - a few years back maybe) I watched my first Thin Man movie (with William Powell & Myrna Loy) and learned that Nick & Nora had always been strictly American! I watched a few movies in the series with the original actors. I was a bit surprised at how suggestive they were considering their time period. Let's just say Nick and Nora are a fun couple who know how to keep things interesting!



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
One thing that Murder By Death threw me off with was that, for most of my life, I thought Nick and Nora Charles were British (due to David Niven & Maggie Smith playing their homage-characters in the movie). I thought their being British was why they were popular!

Then (and it wasn't too long ago - a few years back maybe) I watched my first Thin Man movie (with William Powell & Myrna Loy) and learned that Nick & Nora had always been strictly American! I watched a few movies in the series with the original actors. I was a bit surprised at how suggestive they were considering their time period. Let's just say Nick and Nora are a fun couple who know how to keep things interesting!
I would have totally hung out with them.