I don't want to make a habit of this as I know that listomania can get out of hand. Nonetheless, I want to share with you my list of the top ten film comedies. Maybe later I'll top ten with something else -- but for the moment this list is nagging me and I want to pull it together. So in no special order here are my top ten film comedies:
1.Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
2.The Man With Two Brains
3.Love at First Bite
4.To Be or Not To Be
5.Planes, Trains & Automobiles
6.Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
7. Kind Hearts and Coronets
8. The Great Race
9.The Court Jester
10.Some Like It Hot
I'm sure there are very many other deserving titles --I'm Allright Jack, comes to mind straightaway and I haven't included Buster Keaton's The General or The Navigator -- but this is a very personal list the criteria for which is hard to fathom.
My guess is that maybe I think these films are close to perfect gems. There's no Charlie Chaplin primarily I guess because I baulk at his sentimentality (but concede to it in the case of John Hughes' Planes, Trains & Automobiles). So I guess I'm being inconsistent --because I love the way the mawkish sentimentality is handled by John Candy et al in that film. The team of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon get two listings (one working for Billy Wilder--Some Like It Hot -- and the other for Blake Edwards--The Great Race --whose Victor Victoria would make it into my Top Twenty list --which is a remake of an old twenties German movie anyway).
Top comedy director -- Billy Wilder without doubt. The best comic sequence imaginable comes from his film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes when Holmes and Watson receive an invitation to the Russian ballet... The comic orchestration for the whole sequence is superb!
Hell, don't take my word for it -- watch the movie!
But then the opening sequence to the Cohen Brothers' Raising Arizonia is a real kicker too. With Pete Seeger's banjo suite in the background, no comedy movie ever opened so well.
Oh hell, if I was doing a Top 20 list I'd add (off the top of my head) Bedazzled (The Peter Cook/Dudley Moore version directed by Singin' in the Rains' Stanley Donen), The Ladykillers (not the Tom Hanks/Cohen Bros remake), The General (as above), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (to prove I too can be hip), How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (thats' a musical folks, one helluva musical), The Loved One (the Tony Richardson adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel which exists now as such a poor print), Shrek , The Bank Dick, The Great Dictator --and with VictorVictoria, and I'm Allright Jack thats' twenty .
The only asides I need add are these: I adore both the Mel Brook's and the Ernst Lubitsch version of To Be or Not To Be. Love at First Bite is a little known 1979 movie featuring George Hamilton. I put in The Bank Dick because it is the most consistent of the comedies of W.C.Fields.
Don't take my word for it -- go forth and watch these movies! My list has spoken.