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drzhen

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Everything posted by drzhen

  1. From Robert Benchley's 1937 essay, "Why We Laugh - Or Do We?" "In order to laugh at something, it is necessary (1) to know what you are laughing at, (2) to know why you are laughing, (3) to ask some people why they think you are laughing, (4) to jot down a few notes, (5) to laugh. Even then, the thing may not be cleared up for days." It's been a pleasure interacting with you, Mandroid51.
  2. The desk bit also harkens back to the "feeding machine" in Chaplin's "Modern Times".
  3. Thank you Dr. Edwards, Dr. Gehring, Vince Cellini and TCM for the films, the forums and the insights. Big thanks also to Ball State University and Canvas for not only making this class possible but for making it work. I've been fascinated with movies since I was a child, took a film class in college eons ago and am fortunate enough to know a few people who have worked in the industry so I wasn't sure I would gain many new insights into film let alone a genre I've always been especially fond of. I was wrong. This class has been incredibly informative and surprisingly comprehensive given the com
  4. I have nothing to add except this; in my opinion "Young Frankenstein" works on every conceivable level. The writing, casting, editing, music, cinematography, set design, and attention to detail make it one of the best overall films screened in this series. And Mel Brook's direction strikes the perfect tone, atmospheric yet affectionately funny. Few comedies are as well made as this one. Spoof, parody and homage are seamlessly intertwined. It's so good, it probably would have even worked on a purely comedic level in color, although the element of homage along with the effect of the pristine lig
  5. Well, as usual I'm late to the dance again and the many knowledgeable responses that precede me have pretty much covered all the bases. The clown car equivalent of all this food and all of these workers coming out of this humble cafe qualifies this as slapstick. The absurdity of the size of the order itself is treated ritualistically, as if this could be normal. The music also does much to punctuate the situation. Without it the shot of the rebels crossing the field returning to the jungle with their order would look like it came out of a documentary. It affects how we see the gag. The earne
  6. The villain in black, the hero in white, and the garish, primary colors of the announcer's clothing are all cartoon visuals. The gleam in Leslie's smile and the bluster in Professor Fate's manner tell us that these aren't real people inhabiting a real world. In fact, Lemmon gives the most over the top comedic performances given by a great actor since Cary Grant In "Arsenic and Old Lace". The moving bush, daring stunt and the inevitability of the balloon falling on Fate and his assistant all harken back to silent film. While I find films like this one and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" to
  7. The bit with the pool cues is very funny. Whether he's fracturing the English language with his dysfunctional French or embroiled in physical mayhem, Clouseau is so steadfastly earnest that it underscores the gag. This is not Jerry Lewis bumbling apologetically from one situation to another, this is a man blinded by his own sense of self importance blaming a world that does not accommodate him. Blake Edwards did more than anyone else in the sixties to revive and revere slapstick tradition in American cinema. He and Sellers created the modern equivalent of the time honored knocking-a-top-hat-o
  8. For me, the brilliant "Mon Oncle " and "The Good Humor Man" were the highlights of the evening. One subtle and thoughtful, the other outlandishly cartoonish (is that even a word?), between them they spanned the broad spectrum of slapstick film comedy in the fifties. Smack dab in the middle was the pleasant "The Long Long Trailer", one of the first successful bridges between early television and the movies. "Scared Stiff" is not one of the better Martin and Lewis vehicles. Hope and Goddard did it better. One laugh out loud highlight was Lewis doing Carmen Miranda. The Stooges film was made for
  9. There really isn't much I can add to this discussion. The combination of Lucy, Desi and Vincente Minnelli makes for a pleasant film with some fine slapstick bits and a genuinely suspenseful climax. Lucy was brilliant but Desi's mounting frustration adds much to the comedy. Minnelli's use of color is always impeccable and he does a fine job of contrasting the vastness of the countryside with the confines of the trailer.
  10. Hulot is established as kind by his interaction with the girl and his accommodation of the canary. His ascent to his apartment is ritualistic and proper. The scene itself requires a bit of patience but the careful placement of the windows in relation to the stairs make his intermittent appearances somewhat surprising and amusing. The building, like Hulot himself, is eccentric but inviting. Thank you for selecting this film. I highly recommend Tati's innocent brand of comedy to any who might be interested. There are four Hulot films written and directed by Tati and all have something to offer
  11. I find Dr Gehring's observations to be valuable and informative, and the "Breakdown Of The Gag" videos have given me a few fresh insights into bits I've seen many times throughout my life. In general, I have to say that so far, I'm really enjoying this class and the message boards. It's a joy to be communicating with so many people who are so knowledgeable and who truly love the films as much as I do.
  12. One film I'm seeing that's been largely overlooked on this thread is Danny Kaye's terrific "The Inspector General". If an analogy can be drawn between miraculous physical stunts and vocal calisthenics, Kaye has to be the vocal equivalent to Buster Keaton. He can be silly at times but when given the proper vehicle, he proved himself a multi-talented performer capable impressing and amusing simultaneously. I do find it interesting that Bob Hope isn't included in TCM's great overview of important and influential performers. Without Bob to pave the way with his fast talking wisecracks, performer
  13. Eddie Cantor, whose pre-code films were as risque as anything put on screen at the time.
  14. Abbott and Costello brought rapid fire, split second timing and an exaggerated (there's that definition again) verbal disconnect to their routines. Not only did childlike Lou misunderstand what sharpie Bud was talking about but Bud often was oblivious to Lou's confusion, compounding the problem to the nth degree. Their contrasting physical appearance perfectly matched their characters, and Lou Costello had a flare for taking the most outrageous pratfalls, making their successful transition from radio to film possible. Costello was a marvelous, old school physical comedian and created an endear
  15. Fields got away with with so much, one of the subversive pleasures of studying his work, and then you have Danny Kaye fantasizing about being a bureaucrat and giving the people, "The fist, the wrist and the finger" in "The Inspector General". Yes, they got away with a lot more in comedies than any other film genre.
  16. For all of Fields' verbal prowess, one of the bits in "The Bank Dick" that never fails to make me laugh out loud is his reaction to the boy with the toy gun. You know something is going to happen, but the swift, exaggerated violence of Field's reaction catches us off guard and provides yet another example of two key ingredients of slapstick.
  17. When I was a child, "Uncle Miltie" was welcomed into millions of American homes, ours included. In retrospect I find this interesting because Berle's comic personae is really too broad for the small screen. Perhaps the incongruity of this paradox is the very thing that made him so popular on TV. Brash, confrontational and fast moving, I never really cared for his brand of humor. As a critic once observed, "He's capable of anything but subtlety".
  18. Both Lloyd and Keaton mined sports for laughs. Not just baseball but football, rowing and decathlon sports were covered by both comedians in the silent era and picked up by Joe E Brown, The Three Stooges and even the Marx Brothers in the early talkies. The inherent physicality of sports plays right into one of the five slapstick basics.
  19. Repetitive, ritualistic and surreal, best exemplified for me by the "sign here" exchange, "I forgot to tell you I can't write." "That's alright, there's no ink in the pen anyhow." Not so much a physical bit as depicted here, apart from the tearing of the paper, although it was preceded by some physical mayhem, I'd say it clicks solidly on four out of the five slapstick basics. Although I've seen this many times, it always makes me laugh. Watch the reactions of the underrated Chico if you're so inclined.
  20. Whether in a sotto voce aside or a bombastic, exaggerated or blustery manner, Field's says what many of us might be thinking but are too polite to say out loud. Whereas Groucho just bombards us with verbal gymnastics Field's humor is a more measured comedic defense rather than wise cracks. I never saw Chase as a verbal comedian. He's more inclined to react to something physically, using not only his face but his entire body, often in a deliberately exaggerated fashion. The "bubble in a bathtub" line is a classic.
  21. Chase's comedy is rooted in embarrassment and frustration, punctuated by imaginative and off-the-wall problem solving that invariably backfires. He incorporates all five basic tenets of slapstick with perhaps less emphasis on violence. It's a situational form of slapstick more closely related to Lloyd without the stunts. In this respect, i believe Mast got it right. While Chase was one of the great creators of film comedy, it's a pity that he never developed a more endearing screen personae. His silents from the mid to late twenties are superior to his talkies, where for some reason he felt
  22. Chaplin's uncanny ability to "turn on a dime", a skill co-opted to great effect by Lloyd, could not be appreciated if the scene had been edited piecemeal. This sort of editing, common to many of the lesser clowns and often employed due to budget constraints, robs us of watching a seemingly incongruous event unfold in real time and diminishes our appreciation of the comic performance. Chaplin was second to none when it came to using the split second transition.
  23. While Keaton could take a gag in unexpected directions often resulting in surprising and sometimes violent resolution, I don't think anyone was better at layering and building gag upon gag than Lloyd. Lloyd with the turkey in "Hot Water" is a good example. It's a sustained sequence where one thing leads to another in hilarious fashion. Keaton's gags may have had more of a "wow" factor but Lloyd's screen persona was so darned optimistic that you happily go with him wherever he leads. At least I do.
  24. The introduction of a man, no matter how huge, carrying a piano on one shoulder, sets the scene for exaggeration. The conveniently removable, hidden entry through the side of the house, the trampoline ceiling and its inadvertent success at propelling Buster's rival through the roof followed by the master shot of the Picasso nightmare of a house, all invite laughter and surprise. No matter that Buster nearly hangs himself getting tangled in the rope, his physical prowess has already been established by the fact that he wasn't crushed by the piano. Using the porch fence as a ladder, the skillful
  25. Re the week two "Breakdown of a Gag" video discussion, I will tell you upfront that is is virtually impossible for me to be objective about the great Buster Keaton.
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