We're excited to present a great new set of boards to classic movie fans with tons of new features, stability, and performance.

If you’re new to the message boards, please “Register” to get started. If you want to learn more about the new boards, visit our FAQ.

Register

If you're a returning member, start by resetting your password to claim your old display name using your email address.

Re-Register

Thanks for your continued support of the TCM Message Boards.

X

Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

X

Jump to content


Photo

OUCH! A Salute to Slapstick -- The Films from 1980-2000s


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 Whipsnade

Whipsnade

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 40 posts
  • LocationArroyo Grande, California

Posted 10 October 2016 - 06:12 PM

    We now move into an era of filmmaking I know little about.  With very few exceptions, I stopped seeing new movies after about 1980.  My interests turned backwards through film history, rather than forward.  Of these five movies, only “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad” (1988) was familiar to me.  And that was because I had enjoyed the four episode TV series “Police Squad” that aired in 1982.  Regarding the movies that were new to me:   With “Top Secret!” (1984), it was interesting to see how ZAZ handled a transitional event between “Police Squad” and “Naked Gun.”  I did not consider it to meet the level of either of those efforts, but it did have its moments.  Two films on the list surprised me:  “Sidewalk Stories” (1989) and “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004).  “Sidewalk Stories” was a compelling story, effectively told (after I saw it, I learned it was a remake of Chaplin’s “The Kid” from 1921).  I’m not a big fan of “social commentary” films, but it moved me emotionally.  This seems like a movie that just barely fits our definition of slapstick, but I am glad I saw it.  I was fully prepared to dislike “Anchorman” just on the basis of its initial popularity and its lasting impact on pop culture, but I enjoyed it in spite of myself.  My first surprise was to see Christina Applegate as co-star.  She is a skilled comedienne who honed her craft on the TV series “Married...With Children” (1986-1996).  My second surprise was that the comedy held up throughout the film.  There was no question about this movie fitting the definition of slapstick -- all the elements were present.  It won’t make my list of favorites, but I would watch it again.

 

     That covers all but “Strange Brew” (1983).  I have mixed feelings about this movie.  I remember watching SCTV at the time and found the MacKenzie Brothers skits to be the best part of it.  But I quickly came to feel that it was a simple routine that was weakened by repetition.  By the time the movie came out, I was indifferent to it and never saw it.  When watching the film, I had a slight wave of nostalgic enthusiasm, but it faded quickly to my earlier indifference.  Clearly, it fits the definition of slapstick, but it didn’t hit the comic heights of “Naked Gun,” which is our other TV to movie translation.  Two thoughts come to mind: First, this is an example of the change in target audience that took place after the imposition of the new production code in 1968.  Before the new code, films had to be approved for general audiences of all ages.  But after the change, films were created to appeal to specific demographic groups with different levels of maturity.  Ironically, this “higher level of maturity” resulted in creating more juvenile films like this one -- films that had limited appeal to begin with and that do not age well.  Second, this “TV to movie” attempt reminds me of the many movies in the forties that attempted to bring radio shows to movies.  Shows, such as “Fibber McGee & Molly,” “The Great Gildersleeve” and “The Life of Riley,” were translated to film in an attempt to capitalize on their radio popularity.  Each of these efforts resulted in mediocre films that failed to recreate the spirit of the original show.  Their primary appeal was to fans of the shows, as it was a chance to see what had previously only been heard.  “Strange Brew” seems like this, as it was obviously made to capitalize on their TV popularity.  As an aside:  I think the only really successful “translation” of radio characters to movies was ventriloquist Edgar Bergen & his dummy Charlie McCarthy teaming with W. C. Fields in “You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man” (1939).  This movie brought to film the famous “radio feud” between Fields and McCarthy that played out on “The Chase & Sanborn Hour” during the 1937 broadcast season.      



#2 D'Arcy

D'Arcy

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 37 posts
  • LocationLake of the Ozarks

Posted 04 October 2016 - 10:29 PM

I really loved Sidewalk Stories was our last film. We started with silent and ended with silent (mostly). I enjoy the earlier films best and closing the loop with a b/w really impressed me. There was not a better way to end this course than showing the film which is a homage to Chaplin's The Kid. Kudos to you Dr Edwards you hit a slapstick homerun with this girl...
  • Marianne, HEYMOE, Mandroid51 and 1 other like this
🎭💡📽🎬🎭

#3 Larynxa

Larynxa

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 71 posts
  • LocationToronto, Canada

Posted 03 October 2016 - 09:01 PM

I was an "SCTV" trekkie, so I saw "Strange Brew" about 20 times when it first came out. even have the beer-bottle-shaped tie-in book.

Fun Fact 1: In Ontario, Canada, where the movie was made, we can only buy beer from government-run beer stores. When the movie was made, these stores were called "Brewers' Retail" outlets. Fearing a rash of copycats, Brewers' Retail refused permission to film the "mouse in a bottle" scene in any of its stores. This forced the production to build a replica Brewers' Retail in an empty storefront, and call it "The Beer Store". A few years after the movie, Brewers' Retail renamed itself "The Beer Store".

Fun Fact 2: Elsinore Castle was actually Casa Loma, in Toronto, Canada. Casa Loma has been used in many TV shows and movies, including "SCTV" (as Guy Caballero's mansion) and "Chicago" (The Study was used as Billy Flynn's office.)

Fun Fact 3: Paul Dooley (Claude Elsinore) was the original head writer on the original 1970s version of "The Electric Company", which used plenty of slapstick to teach kids to read. The show's gorilla character was named "Paul", after Dooley.

Fun Fact 4: I met Lynne Griffin (Pam Elsinore), last year, when she was in a play at the theatre where I work. She's a delightful lady and a wonderful character actress---so different from the fragile ingenue who was Pam Elsinore.
  • Mandroid51 likes this

#4 Marianne

Marianne

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 670 posts
  • LocationGreater Boston area

Posted 03 October 2016 - 01:50 PM

The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)

 

I really enjoyed The Naked Gun, and I think Dr. Edwards’s course helped me enjoy it even more. Here are some of the reasons why:

 

  • The combination of physical and verbal slapstick, with lots of exaggeration thrown in.
  • I suspect that Mr. Pahpshmir is a name W. C. Fields would have loved.
  • Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley) taking a pratfall down the stairs when Drebin meets her for the first time really took me by surprise, and the surprise added to the exaggeration of the scene.
  • We saw only a small portion of Frank Drebin’s shenanigans in Breakdown of a Gag, Episode 5: Playing Games. The entire sequence on the playing field is hilarious, especially if you enjoy baseball, as I do. One gag after another, and they don’t distract from the plot/narrative all that much.

 

What I especially loved about The Naked Gun was the good-natured humor. It wasn’t vicious or personal, and everyone was in on the gags. The high level of make-believe made everything funnier, at least for me. For example, it’s obvious that a dummy is thrown out of the baseball players’ pileup, and it’s obviously a dummy of Jane Vincent that Vincent Ludwig is dragging out of the baseball stadium and hitting spectators with. It was exactly the right mix of make-believe and violence for me!

 

An Aside: Lawrence Tierney plays the Angels’ manager, the same Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill, a great film noir. I have to admire his range as an actor. The difference between Born to Kill and The Naked Gun is pretty amazing.


  • goingtopluto, HEYMOE, Mandroid51 and 1 other like this

#5 Dr. Rich Edwards

Dr. Rich Edwards

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 265 posts
  • LocationBall State University

Posted 02 October 2016 - 06:49 PM

Where is module 6 I did not get is something wrong?

 

It's there now - if you log in, it will be there. Thanks for letting me know. 


Richard Edwards, PhD

Ball State University

Instructor: TCM Presents: The Master of Suspense: 50 Years of Hitchcock (2017)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies (2016)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (2015)

 

 


#6 jay1458

jay1458

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 90 posts
  • LocationTexas

Posted 02 October 2016 - 02:01 PM

Where is module 6 I did not get is something wrong?



#7 Marianne

Marianne

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 670 posts
  • LocationGreater Boston area

Posted 02 October 2016 - 12:23 PM

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

 

I just didn’t find Anchorman all that funny. Gross-out humor just grosses me out: the cat poop scene at Tino’s was disgusting, not funny. The motorcyclist kicking Baxter, Burgundy’s dog, off the bridge wasn’t funny either, even though Burgundy’s reaction was funny and I was pretty sure the dog would turn up in the plot again. The scenes in the bear pit at the San Diego Zoo were hilarious. But that’s a long time to wait for laughing out loud in response to a movie that’s billed as a comedy.

 

Seeing the movie again on DVD did not refresh my memory: I think I saw Anchorman in the theaters when it was released in 2004, but I’m not even sure. That’s not inspiring! I wanted to give the film another chance after this course, but it still fell mostly flat for me.


  • HEYMOE likes this

#8 clark2600

clark2600

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 13 posts

Posted 01 October 2016 - 05:23 AM

"Strange Brew" was a real spoiler filled with gags, ex.  when Bob was heavily bloated from drinking a whole vat of beer.  It was a real barrel of laughs.  Laughs a minute.  I really enjoyed the movie.  Cracking jokes like the brewery being a wrong turn for the mental institution.  I was actually reminiscent of those misfitted brothers from the film, "Dumb and Dumber," where mishaps always seem to find them.  It was an action packed adventure filled with chills. spills, and a whole lot of fun.


  • Mandroid51 likes this

#9 Janeko

Janeko

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 149 posts

Posted 29 September 2016 - 04:15 PM

I’ll wear my heart on my sleeve and say in this case that I really loved Sidewalk Stories, which is one film that I never saw previously, although I did hear about it at the time. It does remind one, chiming in with Roger Ebert, that silent film causes the audience to engage with the film emotionally, to work with the filmmaker, rather than merely sit inactive, having the film thrust upon you with words, virtually explained to you at every moment (or made more confusing for you at times). I very much appreciated the fact that it was an homage to The Kid, but brought up to date on the social context of homelessness in the 80s. Lane very much knew what he was doing and all the elements of slapstick were present. There was even a bit of a cameo, of sorts, as Edie Falco, before her prime, was seen as the paramour riding in that horse-drawn carriage.

I was unable to see Sidewalk Stories but am going to rectify that!


  • Marianne and CynthiaV like this

#10 Marianne

Marianne

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 670 posts
  • LocationGreater Boston area

Posted 29 September 2016 - 01:10 PM

Sidewalk Stories (1989)

 

I very much enjoyed this black-and-white feature, but I have a hard time categorizing it as slapstick. It has slapstick elements, with the two men fighting over the cab in the opening sequence and the way that the sidewalk artist interacts with pedestrians on the street. The pantomime throughout is definitely reminiscent of silent film. My favorite scene is when the little girl starts doodling on the artist’s drawing pad on the easel, at his usual sidewalk spot, and people are so enthralled with her and her pictures that they start buying her pictures before she can take the crayon off the paper.

 

Very charming. But Sidewalk Stories as slapstick? I would say no.

 

In spite of its slapstick elements and the wonderful pantomime, I would call Sidewalk Stories a film with a direct social message. The only characters who have any lines of dialogue are the homeless people in the last sequence. They ask for money. They ask, “Do you know what it’s like to be homeless?” For me, they express the major theme of the film, which I thought was evident from the beginning and throughout because the artist was homeless, living in an abandoned building that was demolished. After that point in the film, he has to look for shelters and occasionally has difficulty finding a place to stay.

 

For me, the make-believe element of slapstick was missing from the film, and that omission was enough to make it impossible for me to think of Sidewalk Stories as slapstick.


  • HEYMOE and John_Simpson like this

#11 savaney

savaney

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 54 posts

Posted 29 September 2016 - 11:19 AM

I'm sad that this the last thread for OUCH!, but I really enjoyed going in-depth into what makes slapstick so important to film history. In the 80s to now, I'm not exactly into the comedy has taken place now. However, The Naked Gun is a brilliant and very silly send up of police procedure movies. There is a rapid pace to the many, many jokes throughout the film. It doesn't hurt that Leslie Nielsen is front end of the spectrum. There is not other actor who could play Frank Drebin better than Nielsen. He was so cute, outrageous and hilarious at the same time.

 

I'm not a huge fan of Will Ferrell, but I have to admit that Anchorman was very laugh-out-loud. It made fun of 1970s sexism and journalism, while commenting of the almost raunchy nature of certain films that came out of that decade. The famous battle scene near the end was funny and violent at the same time. I have to say that this was one of the better comedies of the new millennium, and it didn't exactly rely on digitization to make the jokes and gags work.

 

I'm going to miss course, but at long as TCM exists, I will be able to continue my very passionate film education.


  • Dr. Rich Edwards, Janeko, HEYMOE and 2 others like this

#12 ln040150

ln040150

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 97 posts
  • LocationTennessee

Posted 29 September 2016 - 08:13 AM

I’ll wear my heart on my sleeve and say in this case that I really loved Sidewalk Stories, which is one film that I never saw previously, although I did hear about it at the time. It does remind one, chiming in with Roger Ebert, that silent film causes the audience to engage with the film emotionally, to work with the filmmaker, rather than merely sit inactive, having the film thrust upon you with words, virtually explained to you at every moment (or made more confusing for you at times). I very much appreciated the fact that it was an homage to The Kid, but brought up to date on the social context of homelessness in the 80s. Lane very much knew what he was doing and all the elements of slapstick were present. There was even a bit of a cameo, of sorts, as Edie Falco, before her prime, was seen as the paramour riding in that horse-drawn carriage.
  • Dr. Rich Edwards, Janeko, goingtopluto and 1 other like this

#13 Dr. Rich Edwards

Dr. Rich Edwards

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 265 posts
  • LocationBall State University

Posted 28 September 2016 - 08:40 PM

Our last movie thread for OUCH! Let's finish strong and discuss these films:

 

8:00 PM Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988)

 

9:45 PM Top Secret! (1984)

 

11:30 PM Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

 

1:15 AM Strange Brew (1983)

 

3:00 AM Sidewalk Stories (1989)


  • Mandroid51 likes this

Richard Edwards, PhD

Ball State University

Instructor: TCM Presents: The Master of Suspense: 50 Years of Hitchcock (2017)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies (2016)

Instructor: TCM Presents: Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (2015)

 

 





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users