Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on April 18, 2013
This has been a rough week. And when the bad news starts to outweigh the good I like to escape my worries with a great comedy that makes me laugh out loud and allows me to forget my troubles for a few short hours. I recently found some comic relief in my favorite Martin and Lewis film, Frank Tashlin’s ARTISTS AND MODELS (1955). I grew up watching this brilliant musical satire and it never fails to put a big goofy grin on my face. Your own mileage will vary of course but here are 10 reasons why you should consider watching ARTISTS AND MODELS today.
Posted by davidkalat on December 15, 2012
This is a season of traditions: those comforting rituals that we reiterate on an annual basis because no matter how small some of them may be (like the making of home-baked ginger snaps), they have become imbued with powerful memories of home and loved ones, such that these little ceremonies carry a weight of meaning far in excess of their actual ability to signify.
There used to be a coterie of movies that belonged to these same holiday traditions—certain films like The Wizard of Oz or It’s a Wonderful Life that were consistently and regularly replayed on commercial television on certain holidays. You could almost set your watch to them.
Since its original broadcast in 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas has been one of the most enduring and beloved holiday mainstays—and its history has a curious Mobius strip like effect. When you watch A Charlie Brown Christmas this year—in whatever media you do (broadcast, on-demand, iTunes download, DVD, Blu-Ray, hallucinatory memory)—you are participating in a metatextual reconfiguration of its core themes! Betcha didn’t even know that!
Posted by davidkalat on September 1, 2012
Alone among the great silent comics, Harold Lloyd stood at the exact intersection of slapstick and screwball, at the intersection of physical comedy and dialogue. Harold Lloyd, you see, made a film with Preston Sturges. It was neither man’s greatest hour, but the mere fact of its existence is breathtaking. It’s like finding Ernst Lubitsch directing Charlie Chaplin, or Blake Edwards directing Laurel and Hardy.
Let’s take stock of this for a minute: we have one of the greatest physical comedians of the entire silent era—a man whose work bequeathed to posterity one of the most enduring icons of what silent comedy was all about—yet who is also preternaturally comfortable with the world of talkies. He is paired with a visionary of the new dialogue school of comedy—yet one who has an enduring appreciation of the values of silent comedy. They are going to collaborate as equals on a film that will be made without studio interference. If there is ever going to be a moment when the old guard of silent comedians are going to function uncompromised in this new world of screwball, then there could be no better opportunity than this.
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on August 30, 2012
Posted by davidkalat on May 19, 2012
Last week we took a look at Preston Sturges’ Palm Beach Story, and in so doing I took a swipe at Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels. Well, this week I cycle back to give Sullivan’s Travels a second look. I still think it’s weak tea compared to Sturges’ more madcap films like Hail the Conquering Hero, Christmas in July, or Palm Beach Story, but it’s got an autobiographical element that deserves some mention.
Posted by davidkalat on May 12, 2012
Hollywood’s fascination with itself has generally meant that movies about movies–or, more precisely, movies that celebrate movies–tend to be overvalued by the film establishment relative to their actual merits. For example, Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels tends to show up on a lot of classic movie lists, it was singled out for the Criterion treatment back before Criterion’s management really cottoned on to the idea that comedies can be classics, and when writers try to summarize why Preston Sturges is important, Sullivan’s Travels is almost always cited as his one or two most significant accomplishments. What Sullivan’s Travels is not, however, is terribly funny–it is one of Sturges’ tamer works. If you want to ask me what Sturges should be most remembered for, I’d have to say Palm Beach Story–a profoundly anarchic comic masterpiece that wholly abdicates any responsibility to make a lick of sense.
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on April 19, 2012
Posted by davidkalat on December 24, 2011
“I didn’t know you could mix Santa Claus and horror movies,” my son Max told me this morning (y’all met him last week when he guest blogged on my behalf). He was referring specifically to his and my current obsession, a movie that has been inaugurated as a holiday viewing tradition in our home: Jalmari Helander’s looney cult flick Rare Exports.
Never heard of it? Well — as Max said, it is a (mildly gory) horror movie about Santa Claus.
Posted by Susan Doll on December 12, 2011
I love those comedies from the Swinging 1960s that are part farce, part caper movie in which a huge international cast sashays through Europe in an incomprehensible plot. The cinematic equivalent to a 1960s discotheque, with its trendy music, jet set movie stars, mod costumes, and fab hair styles, this subgenre not only includes breezy examples such as Casino Royale (1967) and What’s New Pussycat? but also atrocious bombs like The Happening and Skidoo! My favorite has always been After the Fox, which I recently saw again after many years. I was delighted to discover that After the Fox not only held up for me this time around but that there was more to the film than I realized.
After the Fox failed with the critics and at the box office in 1968 when it was first released, and few have warmed up to it in the interim. The odd assembly of creative personnel is frequently cited as one of the film’s weaknesses. Comic actor Peter Sellers and beefcake movie star Victor Mature appear alongside perennial starlet Britt Ekland in a film directed by Vittorio De Sica and written by Neil Simon. While Simon, who is famous for his very American, middlebrow comedy, and De Sica, who was the acclaimed neorealist director of The Bicycle Thief, do not generally come up in the same conversation, I found nothing disastrous in their collaboration.
Posted by davidkalat on October 29, 2011
It’s no great surprise that the two movie genres that gripped me so thoroughly when I was a little kid and which continue to dominate my love of cinema to this day (as I careen towards geezerdom) are horror and comedy. They are much closer than they might superficially appear. I’ve been to plenty of comedy films that induced in audiences gasps of awe and terror, and horror films that provoked in audiences nervous laughter. Drawing a line between the two involves splitting hairs and other forms of killjoy pedantry.
And so, in honor of Halloween, I’d like to tip my hat to one of the most venerable tropes of classic gothic horror, which also happens to be a slapstick mainstay: the old dark house!
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