Entries in the Category "edmond o'brien"
Movie Reviews: Listmania edition
So last summer, I decided to run through the AFI 100 Best Movies lists. There are several other AFI lists, among them 100 Best Thrillers, 100 Best Romances, 100 Best Comedies, 25 Best Musicals (the AFI was tiring at that point, I guess?) and so on. Here are some recent cross-offs.
It’s a Gift (1934)
AFI 100 Best Comedies # 58
Of all those lists, which I am always keeping track of, the Best Comedies is the one that appeals to me the least. Movies like It’s a Gift are why. Some old comedies are just not that funny anymore. Forgive me. W.C. Fields, in this movie, did not make me laugh, he made me bored. (The Marx brothers I also found atrociously unfunny, though as a peace offering, I present Chaplin and Keaton. Those dudes are still funny in 2010.) (Howard Lloyd, too. See below.)
There was also a certain tone to this movie—harried suburban dad type thing—which bugged me intensely. See the opening scene, where Fields is desperately trying to get to his bathroom mirror for a shave but his kids keep swooping in and getting in his way. The audience is supposed to be laughing at his frustration, but I’m like “JUST TELL THEM YOU WERE THERE FIRST. OR SAY ‘I’M THE DAD, THAT’S WHY.’ OR SOMETHING.” It’s kind of a common theme in movies, especially comedies: men who are so put-upon by their children and their harpy wives. I don’t like that theme when it happens today, but I especially can’t stomach it coming from the 1930s. I just have trouble feeling sorry for a guy whose mother couldn’t legally vote, whose wife could get arrested for buying birth control, and whose daughter can’t wear pants to school.
The Freshman (1925)
AFI 100 Best Comedies # 79
So this one, unlike the W.C. Fields movie, was hilarious. I sat there watching it really late one night, just giggling helplessly. It’s a silent film, starring Harold Lloyd, and he plays a guy going off to college who has a lot of weird ideas about how he’s going to make friends. For example, every time he introduces himself to somebody, he does a little dance. He thinks this works.
The intertitles (in silent films, those little cutaways to dialogue and necessary description) are clever and smirky. The college Lloyd attends is “Tate University, a large football stadium with a college attached,” and so, naturally, Lloyd decides that the thing to do to become popular is to join the football team. There’s a girl and a bully and this insane scene with a disintegrating tuxedo. At their best, silent comedies are the perfect combination of smart and silly, and (at least in my experience) this is one of the best.
Ball of Fire (1941)
AFI 100 Best Comedies # 92
Very funny love story with Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper. He’s a straight-arrow linguistics professor who’s studying American slang, and she’s a saucy nightclub performer with lots to teach him. He lives with seven other doddery old professors who gawk around Stanwyck like she’s some delightful new species they’ve discovered. There’s sort of a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves-thing going on, plus a mobster-related subplot.
Plus Barbara Stanwyck! She’s awesome.
Click ahead for many more.