The Honor Roll is a Great Stories feature column that gives you the best in class movies, books, and multimedia from the Great Stories team. This month Jim and Chris make their top picks for the best comedies of all time in observance of April Fool’s Day! Here is part one featuring Jim’s picks. Chris’ will follow tomorrow evening.
Some Like It Hot
“The movie too hot for words!”
My vote for the best comedy of the Golden Age—Jack Lemmon at his hilariously neurotic best, Tony Curtis in top form doing his Cary Grant impression and Marilyn Monroe at her peak. The best of many great Billy Wilder movies, too—many quotable lines. This was one of the first classic comedies that I ever saw. It’s never lost it’s appeal to me.
Chris’ Comment: “I want a cup of coffee!” I can’t help but notice how much the great Ray Liotta must have modeled his acting demeanor after the awesome Jack Lemmon! Bravo. A fine pick to start off the list, and a movie had not had the pleasure to see until Jim put it on this list. Thank you sir.
“Desperate, he took a female role and became a star. If only he could tell the woman he loves!”
A dream cast in something that doesn’t happen very often—an extremely well-written comedy. A boatload of writers worked on it, but you’d swear that it was written by one great comedy writer. Dustin Hoffman at his best (he didn’t do enough comedies), a luminous Jessica Lange, a very appealing Charles Durning (watch the scene at the bar where he slowly realizes that he’s sitting next to Dorothy—his face is priceless) and Bill Murray at his funniest (it’s been said that he ad-libbed most of his lines). Also with George Gaynes, a young Geena Davis and the late director Sydney Pollack—all wonderful. They don’t make them like this often enough.
Chris’ Comment: I am very worried about my friend Jim. His first two picks are about cross-dressing dudes. Does this speak to the inner psyche or some kind of….oh never mind. I don’t want to really know, and I am here to give my comments on the film. Agreed that it is a great cast with some good moments, but not nearly one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Worth a look? Sure. Dustin Hoffman is a great actor and Charles Durning always a treat to see on screen. Have a look but don’t expect this one to make you click those high heels you may or may not be wearing right now. 😉
The 40 Year Old Virgin
“Better late than never!”
Oh, yeah. I don’t know how many times I ‘ve seen this in the past 9 years, but it never gets old. Judd Apatow at the top of his game. A great cast of now-familiar comedians who now undoubtedly command a lot more for salaries than they must have received here. It’s a toss-up as to who’s the funniest, but I’d pick Paul Rudd. His Ya Mo Burn this Place to the Ground scene gets me every time.
Chris’ Comment: This one appears on my list as well. I guess Jim does have a keen ear for funny. Two of three ain’t half bad amigo!
Airplane/The Naked Gun (tie)
“Thank God it’s only a motion picture”-Airplane
“You’ve read the ad. Now see the movie.”-The Naked Gun
(Airplane)-Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker make their mark in this spoof of airline disaster movies, a cornucopia of classic lines and gags. “Don’t call me Shirley.” “Win just one for the Zipper.” “Do you…like movies about gladiators?” The drinking problem. Parodies of zillions of movies, from From Here to Eternity to Saturday Night Fever. A new career in comedy for both Lloyd Bridges and Leslie Nielsen. This also marks the one and only time that I have ever enjoyed Ethel Merman.
Chris’ Comment: Another one from my list…comments tomorrow. 🙂
(The Naked Gun)-The two sequels were funny, but the first one is the one to see. Non-stop gags will keep you in stitches. A great villain in Ricardo Montalban. A pre-murder trial OJ Simpson. And a career highlight for Leslie Nielsen—it wouldn’t have worked without him.
Chris’ Comment: A worthy entry into any top comedy list. Of course, I think Airplane is the pinnacle of this brand of slapstick, which prevents me from putting this one in my own list. Leslie Nielsen truly re-invented himself with this brand of theatrics. I can’t help but be left with a bad taste in my mouth seeing OJ Simpson in his role. But if you can keep such horrific things far from mind, there are great laughs to be had.
“The scariest comedy of all time!”
Mel Brooks’ best movie and one of the most quotable movies of all time. I miss the days when Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn were making movies. There Wolf, there Castle!
Chris Comment: For my money the best Mel Brooks film would either be Spaceballs or History of the World. But I don’t want to rain on the Jim parade this time. Young Frankenstein is a fine comedic triumph, and Mel Brooks is responsible for more than a few laugh-induced broken ribs, so who is anyone to argue his genius? Gene Wilder is one of the most unique comedic actors of his generation.
Back at you tomorrow with Chris’ list!
The Great Stories Team