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Higgs5

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  1. Thanks for a well planned, engaging curriculum. Beyond learning about the evolution of comedy in film, I was instructed on how to evaluate films by identifying cinematic techniques, theatrical/literary devices, and acting. As an added note, TCM aired about four Keaton films back to back this morning. The other night I spotted three of the original Frankenstein horror films. Anchorman 2 is airing as I write this. I have plenty of opportunities to keep practicing what I’ve learned.
  2. The film pokes fun of the news content and stereotypical newsmen of the 70s – particularly at smaller local stations. As with Allen and Brooks characters, Farrell plays the unlikely leading man who wins over his true love. The film has a fair amount of well timed physical comedy – although much of it is crude. I find Allen’s and Brook’s films much more thoughtful, subtle, literary, steeped in film history, and less offensive than Farrell’s. The film added celebrities to the mix during the fight scene. It was a way of introducing a number of quirky characters from competing news teams int
  3. Despite all his resistance (accompanied by jokes and sarcastic commentary) the unlikely hero is goaded by the more “cowardly” rebels into getting food for the revolutionaries. Adding to the hilarity, Allen goes to a “road side deli” (in an impoverished South American country in the midst of a revolution) and what’s even more absurd is that the deli is able to fulfill this “customized”/ sizable order. The irony is that the rebels end up stealing the food from the very citizens they claim to be liberating. While the Great Race is more of a “contrived” tribute to slapstick with whacky and “
  4. The scene starts out with an impressive sounding ( slick, smooth talking, logical, arrogant) young Frankenstein (Wilder) who repeatedly breaks out into a frenzy and melts down (eventually stabs himself) when the sensitive/shameful topic of his grandfather’s research comes up, or his views are challenged, or his name is mispronounced. The original Frankenstein movies frequently opened with scenes in the classroom (also in black and white) with cadavers/ preserved brains and other organs on display to establish Frankenstein’s legitimacy as a physician. Wilder becomes increasingly emotional (cal
  5. Clouseau’s persona is original and not intended to spoof other detective characters. Drebin’s persona drifts between a Joe Friday, James Bond, Marlowe, and a bit of Dirty Harry style detective/crime solver as captured in the film clip (e.g. “Ted” the “Q” equivalent in the crimes lab and get a sampling of his latest inventions, the classical “you’ve got 24 hours” to clear your partner even though all the evidence is stacked against him, the opening scene in which Drebin blows up his own car). As with Brooks and Wilder in Young Frankenstein, ZAZ employs the technique of recombining old genre
  6. The addition of color enhanced the beauty and realism of the scenes including magnificent outdoor locations and the more intimate locales such as outdoor markets and flower laden neighborhoods. The actors, costumes, retro furnishings, candlelight suppers, and shots in the car/on the road are more “dramatic”/ life like. Luminous, contrasting colors convey the “high end” quality of the trailer/props and evoke feelings of warmth/ nostalgia/ romance as these two innocents embark on their “adventure”. Panoramic views/ camera positions and movements (“angled shots”) capture the beauty, vastnes
  7. Professor Fate is the generic bumbling villain (with the accompanying nutty sidekick, dark clothing, mustache, and inane laugh) whose efforts to sabotage Leslie’s heroic dare devil feats, using “cartoon logic”, consistently fires back on him. His gadgets always malfunction and he ends up falling from great heights or getting “hurt”. Donned in white, Leslie is a noble, attractive hero who performs extraordinary feats, overcomes all obstacles, has an array of talents and special skills, never seems to get hurt or dirty, and always attracts women. The film is a revival of non-stop slapstick st
  8. Clouseau mocks police work by making it appear foolish and disordered. He is an incompetent, clumsy individual who does recognize his own idiocy and arrogantly blames others or outside factors for outcomes – yet through fate he prevails. As illustrated in the warped cue stick gag, his sense of logic is impaired.
  9. Abbot and Costello are perfectly paired and their signature “cross talk” routines are flawlessly executed. Much like the Marx brothers , their personas never varied - Abbot was always the more rational, scheming character and Costello the more gullible, childlike one (the baaaad boy). Also, like the Marx brothers, their routines reflected their roots in burlesque. The duo uses similar play on words/verbal jousting and physical comedy(Costello loses his voice/ability to move, Chick faints, they scream a lot, slap and yell at each other, scurry around frantically or break out running and th
  10. The plot is not subordinate to the comedy. The gags in this film are less physical/chaotic/ “ritualistic” than in the Chase and Marx films we viewed. The plot is a bit more complex. Fields is less physical (although the characters around him perform the usual feats). Field’s dialogue is slower paced making his humor more thought provoking. His character is lazy and boastful. His contempt for certain things (like his family life, work, and certain occupations) comes through in his loaded, sarcastic, and irreverent remarks. I made note of some of the funny quotes (even the names of th
  11. The verbal slapstick featured in this film fits Dale’s definition in all its forms. The comedy bits were so bold and unceasing that a lot of the exchanges must have been unscripted. There were notable pauses in the exchanges…even so the wise cracks and innuendo were so fleeting that I could hardly retain them. The least appealing scenes for me were some of the not so funny song and dance sequences where the Marx Brothers weren’t in front of the camera…when things “slowed down” and deviated from the continuous/bizarre jabs and gags. The film was a composite of wit and “riotous” physical comed
  12. The film is staged in the tradition of vaudeville/silent slapstick. The film even opens with the traditional “titles” used in silent films. However the comedians now have the added advantage of using conspicuous verbal sarcasm and, for added levity, recorded background music. The comedy is centered on Chase’s desperate efforts to clean up after he fouls up and tries to make himself smell and look awful for what he anticipates will be a disappointing date (that Todd is on to him makes him look even more ridiculous and adds an element of playfulness). What follows is a series of vain attemp
  13. Keaton captivates his audience with sets that are larger and I would guess more expensive, stunts that are more risky/acrobatic and scenes that are more sensational/violent. The acting is less expressive and highly physical. He did not employ the kind of “grace”/emotion or include the “social commentary” you find in Chaplin films. He added a little spice with the bathing scene (probably to introduce the tub he would later fall into) and captivates the audience with full frame and long distance shots that focus on large props collapsing and performing stunts at, or falling from, great heigh
  14. Much like in a Woody Allen film, Lloyd uses New York as a backdrop for his comedy and the result is some of the most comprehensive and animated footage of New York streets and attractions of the period. Every form of transportation in the city is displayed while he performs his harrowing driving and narrow escapes (using film footage in the background – probably a first) and we see all kinds of characters from working class folks to unscrupulous railroad magnets, street gangs, a Baseball hero and Civil War Veterans. How symbolic that a dying breed of civil war vets dressed in football unifor
  15. I can see that with very little variation in the position of the camera and through long shots, Chaplin manages to capture the entire “landscape” and meld together the setting, storyline, and the mood, expressions and emotions of the players. The acting is so effective…the story is conveyed through a string of innovative comedic sketches interspersed with scenes that frustrate us and stir up emotions. The realities of the Depression Era are immediately introduced - vagrants, deteriorated structures, thread worn and mismatched clothing, hunger, homelessness, unemployment lines, cheap roo
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