Comedy Film Festival 2012

“Auntie Mame”

Rosalind Russell in "Auntie Mame" (Warner Bros., 1958)

Rosalind Russell in "Auntie Mame" (Warner Bros., 1958)

“Auntie Mame” (Warner Bros., 1958). A classic, stylish and really funny film. Rosalind Russell (reprising her role from the original 1957 Broadway play) is Mame Dennis, a wealthy and free spirited socialite in 1920s New York City who gets custody of her nephew after the death of her only brother. The film chronicles through a serious of hilarious and touching vignettes how Mame shows her nephew ways to think independently and get the most out of life. Based on the novel and subsequent Broadway play of the same title from the 1950s–and definitely not to be confused with the awful 1974 movie musical “Mame” starring Lucille Ball (and her smoker’s voice). Written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Directed by Morton DaCosta. “Live!”

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Comedy Film Festival 2012

“The Pink Panther”

Theatrical poster for "The Pink Panther" (United Artists,, 1963)

Theatrical poster for "The Pink Panther" (United Artists, 1963)

“The Pink Panther” (United Artists, 1963). A notorious jewel thief nicknamed The Phantom sets his sights on stealing the Pink Panther, one of the world’s largest diamonds (that also happens to be pink). French police detective Jacques Clouseau is on the case (or is he?). Peter Sellers’ creation/interpretation of the klutzy, crazy Inspector Clouseau is comedy gold–he steals every scene he’s in. With a memorable musical score by Henry Mancini, stylish animated titles with the iconic Pink Panther cartoon character, and co-starring David Niven, Robert Wagner and Italian beauty Claudia Cardinale, this first film in the “Pink Panther” series is a true period piece from the 1960s. It was big fun to see this film on the big screen with an appreciative (and laughing) audience at last week’s Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival. Written by Maurice Richlin and Blake Edwards. Directed by Blake Edwards. “Oh well, if you’ve seen one Stradivarius, you’ve seen them all.”

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Thoughts on Movies

“The Searchers”

John Wayne in "The Searchers" (Warner Bros., 1956)

John Wayne in "The Searchers" (Warner Bros., 1956)

“The Searchers” (Warner Bros., 1956). I caught a screening of this exceptional film at the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival last weekend. John Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a Civil War veteran who is hell-bent on finding the Comanche Indians that kidnapped his young niece and brutally murdered his brother and family. The film, set in Texas (but with Monument Valley in Utah and Arizona serving as its spectacular backdrop), is a complex study of racism, revenge and reconciliation. Considered by many to be one of the best Westerns ever made, I was completely awestruck by it. The landscape, the themes, and the remarkable performance by John Wayne have made this film one that I’ll never forget. Watch this movie. Also stars Jeffrey Hunter, Ward Bond and Natalie Wood. Written by Frank S. Nugent. Directed by John Ford. “That’ll be the day.”

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Comedy Film Festival 2012

“What’s Up, Doc?”

Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal in "What's Up, Doc?" (Warner Bros., 1972)

Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal in "What's Up, Doc?" (Warner Bros., 1972)

“What’s Up, Doc?” (Warner Bros., 1972). An homage to the classic screwball comedies of the 1930s (and a really funny film to boot). Four identical plaid overnight bags that belong to four different people who are all staying at the same hotel in San Francisco create the genesis of this silly, perfectly crafted comedy. The terrific ensemble cast includes Barbra Streisand, Ryan O’Neal and the great Madeline Kahn in her feature film debut. A childhood favorite that is still as funny today as it was when I was watched it after school on “The Big Money Movie” hosted by Bernie Calderwood on KSL-TV Channel 5 in Salt Lake City. Written by Buck Henry, David Newman and Robert Benton. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. “There’s nothing to see, really–we’re inside a Chinese dragon.”

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Comedy Film Festival 2012

“His Girl Friday”

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in "His Girl Friday" (Columbia, 1940)

Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in "His Girl Friday" (Columbia, 1940)

“His Girl Friday” (Columbia, 1940). Lightning-fast dialogue, witty one-liners and great chemistry are the hallmarks of this classic comedy. Cary Grant plays a newspaper editor who does everything he can to keep his ace reporter and ex-wife, played by Rosalind Russell, from leaving the volatile newspaper business and marrying a steady (if not boring) insurance salesman. All the while, a big story of political corruption and a man wrongly accused for murder add more depth (and more comedy) to the story. Good stuff. Written by Charles Lederer. Directed by Howard Hawks. “The last man who did that to me was Archie Leech.”

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