Pratfalls & Madcaps: American Comedy Classics of the 1930's & 1940's
These and other films will play at the Egyptian Theatre in December.
Discuss this series with other film fans on:
Once upon a time, they had something called
"comedy." People told jokes, walked into doors, threw pastry, and found
themselves in ridiculous situations where the only possible solution was a tartly-worded
insult or a bonk on the noggin. Today, that world has pretty much vanished, replaced
by a barrage of bodily functions, groin injuries and suggestions that someone must be gay
because he likes Coldplay (Not that theres anything wrong with that). So jump into
the ol time machine and whisk yourself back to an era when movies were, you know, funny.
And when we say funny, we mean directors like Preston Sturges (LADY EVE) and
Ernst Lubitsch (NINOTCHKA) and stars like Cary Grant (HIS GIRL FRIDAY),
Claudette Colbert (IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT) and more! Stuff Grandma and the kids into
the SUV and cmon down: itll feel so good to laugh again.
Thursday, January 19 7:30 PM
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT,
1934, Columbia (Sony), 105 min. Dir. Frank Capra. The first film to win all five
major Oscars (like a comedy could ever pull that off today) remains a jewel of timing and
charm, as runaway bride Claudette Colbert finds herself saddled with pushy reporter
Clark Gable, who smells the story of his career. The legendary hitchhiking and
"Walls of Jericho" scenes are only the tip of this matchless comic tour de
force. Screenplay by Robert Riskin; with Walter Connolly, Alan Hale and Roscoe Karns.
Friday, January 20 7:30 PM
Preston Sturges Double Feature:
THE LADY EVE, 1941, Paramount
(Universal), 97 min. Dir. Preston Sturges. Henry Fonda is dim-witted ale heir
"Hopsy" Pike ("Snakes are my life."); Barbara Stanwyck is Eve,
cardsharp and con artist par excellence. Can this relationship work? Savage but
never mean-spirited, this is Sturges at his best, blending violent slapstick, zesty
dialogue and genuine romance into a peerless masterwork. With Charles Coburn, William
Demarest, Eugene Pallette and Eric Blore.
THE PALM BEACH STORY,
1942, Paramount (Universal), 88 min. Dir. Preston Sturges. Though Claudette
Colbert still loves failed-architect hubby Joel McCrea, she nonetheless leaves
him for greener pastures. Enter Rudy Vallee as a mild-mannered zillionaire and Mary Astor
as his nympho sister and, well, the possibilities are just endless. Another hysterical
Sturges classic, highlighted by the all-star Ale & Quail Club and the unforgettable
Saturday, January 21 7:30 PM
HARVEY, 1950, Universal, 104 min. Dir.
Henry Koster. Easily the greatest movie ever made starring a 63" invisible
rabbit. Jimmy Stewart gives his own favorite performance as Elwood P. Dowd, a
perfectly nice guy whose best pal nobody can see, leading his sister (Oscar-winner
Josephine Hull) to try to get him committed. A warm, wonderful and truly ageless comedy.
Based on Mary Chases play (in which Stewart had already starred), and featuring
Cecil Kellaway, Wallace Ford, and in his film debut, Jesse White.
NINOTCHKA, 1939, MGM (Warners), 110
min. Dir. Ernst Lubitsch. "Garbo Laughs!" screamed the ads,
and so will you, as a stuffy Russian commissar (Greta Garbo) assigned to Paris
matches wits with bon vivant Melvyn Douglas. She never had a chance. The
second and last time Billy Wilder worked with his idol; his script (with Charles Brackett
and Walter Reisch) is inspired, and The Lubitsch Touch is in full force. With Ina Claire,
Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart andno kiddingBela Lugosi!
Sunday, January 22 6:00 PM
HIS GIRL FRIDAY, 1940, Columbia
(Sony), 92 min. Dir. Howard Hawks. For decades considered the fastest comedy ever
made, this frenzied remake of Hecht and MacArthurs THE FRONT PAGE switches ace
newsman Hildy Johnson to a woman (Rosalind Russell at her peak), while Cary
Grant does a complete 180 from BABY as cynical editor Walter Burns. If you were
teaching film comedy, this would be Lesson #1. The unparalleled cast includes Ralph
Bellamy, Gene Lockhart, Porter Hall, Ernest Truex, Roscoe Karns, Cliff Edwards, John
Qualen, Billy Gilbert and tons more.