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Lawrence Wolff

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About Lawrence Wolff

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  1. 1) Different styles - I would say that Ferrell differs most from Woody Allen. I see bits of influence of the others in this clip. Allen is much more subdued and doesn't have the exaggerated violence that this clip has. Allen's violence is comical without the fake gore. The violence reminded me a bit of Monty Python. 2) What do cameos add - For me, it's the fun of seeing surprise familiar faces, which adds to the comedy. Known comedic quantities add to the fun, rather than unknowns. 3) Who most influenced Ferrell - I would think ZAZ did, due to the outrageous fight scene, the news man on fire (where did that come from? I guess that was the point!) and references to other genres that have nothing to do with this film. Steve Carrell switching sides and the guy on fire gave me the largest smirk, but neither Ferrell or Carrell are my particular cup of tea. They usually don't do much for me, but maybe I'm too old school. Ferrell's comedies usually seem a bit on the nasty side, which is prevalent in much of today's comedy. I have enjoyed this course immensely. Dr. Edwards knowledge and love of film is evident. He has shown me a few things that I was not aware of, and that is always good in life, but especially in comedy. I have also enjoyed reading the many insights provided by my fellow students. While I do not have the talent of putting my thoughts into words as some of you have, I have enjoyed reading all of the comments very much. I'm so sorry I missed the Noir course.
  2. 1) Wow! Where to start? They mix TV police drama with James Bond secret weapons. I think ZAZ watched Olsen & Johnson and copies them - anything for a laugh! There is more than a joke a mionute and they keep coming. The understated ones get to me the most - Frank walking around the wall or having a supersized lab assistant that is so tall you can't see his head! (First used, I believe, in a Joe McDoaks short. Watch these for some great & overlooked slapstick!) Naked Gun is a very funny film that doesn't let up in the gags. 2) I think the approach is different. Although both Igor and Frank give us the "camera look" to bring us into the jokes, this film is an out and out parody of detective films. Young Frankenstein is more of a comedy tribute to the originals and is more affectionate to it's treatment of their subject than ZAZ treat their subjects. Both are extremely funny in their own way. 3) Sellers and Neilson both bungle their way through life, but Sellers has the air of a snob as he does so. As funny as Neilson's character is, Sellers' attitude makes me laugh a little more as I like to laugh at the snob as things happen to him to deflate him. With Neilson, the jokes (more often than not) are about the people around him. A common theme with bumbling policeman is that they have trouble with inanimate objects. They make walking through a door or looking through a microscope a production that always goes wrong. The fact that both of these characters keep the straightest of faces makes in all the more funny! Nothing is ever their fault.
  3. 1) It operates as parody, but I don't see the slapstick element in this. It is not violent and the exaggeration is downplayed in a quiet, almost serious way. And the food ordered would be from a Jewish delicatessen, not from a restaurant in a South American jungle. Does this make it funny? Yes. Does this make it slapstick? Not in my mind. The deli owner's seriousness in taking the order made me smile and I laughed when the coleslaw is taken out in wheelbarrows. (I thought that joke could have been improved on by the deli owner counting the wheelbarrows as they go by and then, just as he is about to say they are short, have another deli clerk come out with ONE SMALL one serving container of coleslaw to complete the order.) 2) The Great Race is more closely like a Sennett comedy that this film. Allen's "Take the money and Run" and "Sleeper" are, to me, closer to Sennett. The gags are "louder" in those films than in this one. For me, parody alone is not necessarily slapstick. It depends what you do with the situation that you are doing the parody of. Ben Turpin played those situations with broad strokes, where Allen is using dialogue and minimal physical action in this clip, for the comedy. I don't see much of Sennett here at all.
  4. 1) For me, it has a "cartoonish" feel due to the bright colors, the camouflage of the arrow launcher moving completely unnoticed on the hill, the gleaming teeth (which Benny Hill borrowed on many occasions. I hope we include him in the discussion at some point), the pure white outfit Curtis wears, the moustache on Lemmon (bad guys ALWAYS have a moustache) and the "topper' - the giant arrow launched at the balloon. A gun would have been more realistic, but the arrow gives it the slapstick/cartoon finish. In a cartoon, the villain might have accidently gotten his foot tangled in the rope that would be attached to the arrow, so the bad cartoon character would have ended up in the falling balloon, with no parachute, of course! That wouldn't have worked in the film. The balloon and basket falling on the bad guys was a less over the top completion to the total scenario. 2) It's a homage due to the obvious rear screen projection, the over played physical reactions by the "bad guys" (right out of silent film - we are only missing Lemmon saying "Curses!") and the women fainting when it is announced that the balloon has a hole in it. But it is so over the top, it stays with the feel of the rest of the film. 3) To show the definitive hero and villain, like a 1930's or 1940's Western programmer (White hat / Black Hat - Ever notice the hats NEVER come off during the fight scenes?), the Good guy wears white and the Bad guys wear black. And, as is often the case in slapstick, the good guy(s) are often outnumbered. I think this helps in rooting for good guy, as he is an underdog.
  5. 1) Favorite gag - shooting with the curved pool cue. What we missed was that he had previously tried shooting with the curve going up, and missed the ball. ​But now he is smarter and turns the curve downward. Hearing the rip and cutting to George Sanders and then back to Clouseau trying to fix the rip was great! Better to see and imagine what has happened and then seeing the result is wonderful. Working your imagination with the joke makes it funnier. And George Sanders keeping a straight face makes it all the funnier. 2) He maintains his serious composure in the face of all the destruction and mistakes he makes (including knocking over the cue stand and walking into the wall.) This makes the gags even funnier. 3) Never apologizing like other police officers do in films. He is a bit arrogant with others saying that THEY are the problem. I've worked with people like this, but they weren't nearly as funny as Peter Sellers!
  6. 1) Other than seeing Lucy's red hair, the color did not add to the comedy for me. Perhaps it helped making the low lighting by the candles seem more realistic. The mud looked real in color, but it didn't really add to the joke for me. 2) The angles of the props (due to the trailer being stuck in the mud) made the scene more amusing.. And they let you know that some kind of joke due to the angle was going to occur. Lucy trying to get on the bed was the first but then it lead to the big surprise with her flying out the door and into the mud. And Desi adds a line to finish the scene. Well done! 3) Lucy was the rare female to be able to perform physical comedy, but usually on TV. (Joan Davis being the woman in film that could pull off physical comedy.) Being attractive helped her be more likeable as jokes happening to an attractive woman make her look less like a clown, but she's still the subject of the joke. I think Lucy's contribution is in line with that of Laurel and Hardy in that the joke/situation was always POSSIBLE, unlikely to occur, but POSSIBLE. That bit of realism kept her comedy from going over the top and kept her on television for many. many years.
  7. Mr. Hulot is quiet, kind, a little stiff in manner, generous and caring. Interesting how he gives the tomatos to the girl and her mother takes them from her saying she is not a child anymore. Mother keeps them. He knows his way around and proceeds in a confident manner, blissfully unaware of the dog about to fight with his fish. I was waiting for the dog to attack the fish, but it fits the character that he doesn't have to fight the dog over the fish. That would destroy the easy feel to the entire scene and Hulot's gentle character. The walk to his apartment works in the long continuous long shot. You anticipate his appearing at the next window or doorway on his way up and smile every time he appears. Quiet and confident in his walk. A photographic joy. Not out and out belly laugh funny, but a funny thinking kind of comedy.
  8. I t's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World probably sets the record for cameos. When seeing this film for the first time when it was reissued in 1970, I was disappointed in the "The Three Stooges". It was probably the only time in film history when they didn't destroy something! Cameos enhance a film and make it more fun, putting in a quick laugh or smile where a non-descript actor would never have the same effect. The back story on "Mad World" on who DIDN'T make a cameo is almost as interesting as the ones that did appear in the film. For various reasons Stan laurel (wouldn't perform again without Oliver Hardy), Bud Abbott (not sure but he was considered for the film), Bob Hope (unavailable), Groucho Marx and Red Skelton (wanted too much money) would have made the film even greater, if that is possible!
  9. I agree and think that the joke is recognizable by having the same actors playing the same role. It also may be useful in tying films together, if that is a needed plot device.
  10. Always Leave Them Laughing did anything but that for me. Berle is arrogant & obnoxious (And those are his good points!) His attempts at drama are phony as are his feelings of regret. He comes off as completely unlikeable in this film, and for me, you have to like the person to laugh at them. He is performing and, as a viewer, you know that he's performing. It is as if he is saying, "Look how funny I'm going to be." From what I have read, Bert Lahr detested Milton Berle, although he tried not to show it in the film. Anyone else feel the same about this one? It's the only film in this course that I don't care for. Berle has his place in other films, but I think that this would have been a better film with a different comedian playing Berle's role.
  11. I noticed something when watching this film years ago. With Fields throwing around terms like "shifting spanner", did the censors miss another joke that CERTAINLY would not have been condoned in 1940? I believe they did. I won't repeat it here, but notice how they refer to the saloon that Shemp bartends - they consistently leave out the word Cat. It even leaves the word Cat out on the window when stating the name of the place of business. I can't repeat the saloon's name as I don't want to get banned. But go back and take a look or just listen again to Fields. It's a scream! Chase also got away with putting the word "sh*tty" in a description of his golf clubs in one of his shorts. Between Chase and Fields, I think the censors didn't look hard at comedies, as they were "only" comedies. They would usually worry about the screen play and make suggested cuts and revisions from that. I guess they didn't always look at the finished product!
  12. I also meant to say the "Who's on First" is the funniest routine of all time. It just happens to be about baseball.
  13. I realize that Always Leave Them Laughing has not yet been screened, but I am familiar with this film. I wanted to like this film. I really did. But it leaves me cold. While Berle does some funny things, he is completely unlikeable. Stealing the jokes makes him cheesy and annoying, at the very least. Bert Lahr's advice to Kip in the film of giving the horse something to eat so that the audience will make him likeable should have been heeded for the entire film. Berle is egotistical and pig headed here. I must like a comedian to laugh at them. Berle's character is trying too hard here and will do anything to get ahead. Also, for me anyway, Berle's attempts at drama also fall flat and seem insincere. I read that Lahr detested Berle in real life and I think that this comes through, even though Lahr tries not to show it. Does anyone else get that impression? There are films where Berle's character works for me, such as "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad ,Mad World". Unfortunately, Always Leave Them Laughing isn't one of them. Does anyone else feel the same way about this film?
  14. Good job with the baseball clips. Everyone can put themselves in Joe E. Brown's place at second base. The situation is spinning out of control around you as you frantically search for the one thing that will save you. Associating with the gag makes it funnier. Lloyd's does not directly involve the game, but is fun just the same. Keaton also did a baseball short for Educational, but it is one of his weaker ones. In the 1930's, many Hollywood stars would participate in a charity baseball, with many slapstick gags taking place during the game, so Hollywood has a history with the National Pastime. I agree with Chris_Coombs' feelings for the Leslie Nielson Police Squad routine. Very fast, confusing and funny. Nielson, in the Naked Gun clip. uses a variation on repetition as the gag continues and evolves in the film. And Abbott and Costello's Baseball Routine (as they called "Who's on First?") is not only baseball's greatest routine, but the funniest and most famous baseball routine of all time. Baseball does appear to be the best game for slapstick.
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