I have always been a movie fanatic for as far back as I can remember and although I have enjoyed all genres, I especially gravitated to comedy movies for the most part. My father and I would sit watching comedy movies and laugh until it hurt and on Fridays in the summer, it was always a given that my parents would take my sister and I to the Drive-In Theater. (Does anyone remember them?) If it was a comedy, that was a double plus for us. So, for me to say that I love comedy movies would be a vast understatement and for me to make a Favorite Top 10 list is literally next to impossible. In fact, making a Top 20 would be hard enough as it is, but I am going to try anyway. I will cover groups of movies and some solo movies and then try to accomplish my feat for the evening. And although this will be my most difficult task to date, I will most definitely enjoy the memories that these movies provide to me and hopefully for you also.
The In-Laws with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin is so funny and enjoyable. The way that Falk’s character slowly gets Arkin’s character, Sheldon, involved with all of his CIA shenanigans is priceless. A definite must see for those who have never heard of this gem. “Serpentine Sheldon, serpentine!”
Let It Ride is one of the most unique comedies I have ever seen, in that, every character is nuts. I mean, in every comedy you have some normal people and then the funny ones. But this movie has no normal people. It takes place at the race track and everyone is a funny character. Richard Dreyfuss is great as Trotter, as he is with every character he portrays. What About Bob?, Moon Over Parador & The Goodbye Girl, to name a few, are terrific Dreyfuss movies.
Since I already mentioned it, What About Bob? is a classic with Dreyfuss and one of my favorites, Bill Murray. I love watching Murray drive Dreyfuss crazy ever so slowly during the course of the movie. ‘Baby Steps’. And when you speak of Bill Murray, you have to acknowledge Stripes, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Scrooged and of course, Caddyshack. What a terrific cast Caddyshack had. It was Harold Ramis’ first attempt at directing and he did a fantastic job in making what is now a Golf Country Club classic that had so many memorable lines delivered by the irrepressible Rodney Dangerfield. The war between him and Ted Knight was hysterical. “Hey, who stepped on a duck?”
The Producers is a Mel Brooks masterpiece and a screenplay Oscar winner. Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are so superb in those roles. The idea was to sell much more than 100% of a Broadway play to investors and make sure it is a flop by acquiring the worst script, ‘Springtime For Hitler’, the worst actors, director, music and anything else to assure a quick closing. This way they could keep the money without paying the investors back. But of course the play is a hit and there is no possible way they can pay everyone back, since they sold about 5000%. So they end up in jail and do they learn their lesson? Nope! They produce ‘Prisoners In Love’ and sell the warden 200%. While on the subject of Mel Brooks, how can I not list Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, History Of The World Part 1 and another favorite, Blazing Saddles. The absolute Best Comedy Western of all time, period. Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Mel Brooks, Slim Pickens and of course, Mongo (Alex Karas). What a blast!
The Pink Panther movies are some of the best works of the great Peter Sellers. Inspector Clouseau had to be one of the funniest bumbling fools to ever grace the silver screen. A Shot In The Dark, The Pink Panther Strikes Again and Revenge Of The Pink Panther were such great vehicles for Sellers. And on the topic of Peter Sellers, how about Being There, The Mouse That Roared and Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb. Peter Sellers plays 3 roles in this movie and makes them all so funny and memorable, a tribute to his comedic acting genius.
A Day At The Races with the Marx Brothers would make my Top 5 of all time no matter how long a list I had. I loved the Marx Brothers and this movie is one of my absolute favorites. They were so off the wall and this movie had so many incredible funny scenes. Then you have A Night At The Opera, Monkey Business, Duck Soup and Horse Feathers.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein was so great to watch as a kid. Here were the monsters of the times that used to scare us, Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolfman, and now here they were in a comedy with one of the best Comedy Teams of all time. What a treat! That whole scene with Costello in the hotel room and Lon Chaney,Jr has already changed into the Wolfman. Lou didn’t know it and is so close to getting killed. A great comedy effect of anticipation.
Sleeper is a great Woody Allen movie. The premise was he was revived 200 years after being frozen cryogenically. The results were as funny as you would expect from an early Woody Allen movie. Let me also give tribute to Bananas, Annie Hall, What’s New Pussycat?, Play It Again Sam, Take The Money And Run and Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask).
Monty Python And The Holy Grail is a true classic with so many funny and out of the ordinary scenes. I especially loved the scene with the sword fight at the bridge and the loser has his limbs sliced off one by one and yet keeps insisting that he is winning the battle. Even when he is just a torso on the ground he states, “So we’ll call it draw then?” Let’s also throw in Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and Monty Python’s Meaning Of Life. On the side, I must mention that if you ever have the time to see a play on Broadway, then by all means go see Spamalot. I laughed the whole entire play and you don’t even have to be a Monty Python fan to laugh your fool head off, as I did.
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was the first comedy movie of it’s kind. It was the first movie with an all star cast like that. Anyone who was anybody in comedy at that time wanted to be in that movie, even if it was just a small cameo appearance. If you weren’t in that movie, you weren’t on the comedy map, so to speak. One of the great comedy premises for a movie and an absolute amazing cast of actors, headed by Spencer Tracy. A must see for any generation.
The Nutty Professor and The Errand Boy are terrific comedy performances by Jerry Lewis. I know the word genius is used a lot but Mr. Lewis certainly proves that he is in those two classics. The Nutty Professor remake with Eddie Murphy was fantastic too. A virtual tour de force comedy performance by him with all of his family characters. Plus, I must mention two movies with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis together to complete his work: The Stooge and The Caddy. “Whose you’re little whosie? Whose you’re turtle dove?”
Now I would like to write about some comedy movies of more recent times. There’s Something About Mary is hysterical with so many unique scenes that have never been done before, and in comedy that is extremely hard to do. The scene with Matt Dillon and the dog is one of my most favorite scenes of all time. I literally fell out of my chair laughing at that one. He accidentally kills the dog and tries to resuscitate him by giving him an electric jolt with the live wire from a nearby table lamp. Ben Stiller has really made a name for himself in the business, which makes sense knowing that his parents are Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara. And when talking about Ben you must mention Meet The Parents, Meet The Fockers and Night At The Museum.
Analyze That with Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro was great and though it was a sequel to Analyze This, I loved it even more. The scene when DeNiro comes down to the Shiva with his robe open and nothing on underneath was hysterical. “Hey, who do you have to f*#k around here to get some bacon? Not you I hope.” Mr. DeNiro, as everyone knows, is a tremendous serious actor, but he delivers comedy equally as well, as he did in Midnight Run with Charles Grodin. They were supposed to make a sequel for that but never did. I wish they had. Other Billy Crystal movies I have loved are City Slickers 1 & 2, Mr. Saturday Night and When Harry Met Sally.
Liar, Liar with Jim Carrey is terrific. But of course, I love Carrey in everything. He is so animated, rubbery faced and one of my favorite comedic actors. I love the outtakes at the end of the movie also. They really show his improvisational abilities well. Then there is Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Me, Myself & Irene.
My Cousin Vinny is a well written and wonderfully acted comedy movie with Joe Pesci, Fred Gwynne and Marisa Tomei. In fact, Miss Tomei won an Oscar for her role. The chemistry between the three of them on screen was terrific, as were all of the courtroom scenes. In the words of the judge, “What’s a yute?”
Something’s Gotta Give was very funny with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. What a great script. I think it should have won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Of course, you can never go wrong with Jack in the movie. He has such a great face. Even in the horror flick, The Shining, he makes me laugh. The Witches Of Eastwick, Terms Of Endearment, As Good As It Gets, Batman and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and so many more are such an amazing body of work.
Stir Crazy with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor is absolutely hysterical and their chemistry together was wonderful to watch. They did a few more movies together and they delivered some belly laughs also. Another You, Silver Streak and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.
My honorable mentions, which would definitely make it to my list if I did a Top 100, are Used Cars, Tommy Boy, Lady In Red, Airplane, Weekend At Bernies, Hooper, Smokey and The Bandit, Animal House, Home Alone 1 & 2, Evil Roy Slade, The Naked Gun Movies, Repossessed, Fire Sale, The Road Movies with Bob Hope & Bing Crosby, Carry On Teacher, Arthur, 10, Cheech & Chong’s Up In Smoke, Clifford, Meatballs, The Jerk, The Court Jester, The Inspector General, The Birdcage, Neighbors, Porky’s, My Favorite Year, Night Shift, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Seems Like Old Times, Easy Money, Back To School, Kentucky Fried Movie, Bachelor Party, Forrest Gump, Toy Story, Chums At Oxford, Police Academy, Trading Places, 48 Hours, Cheech & Chong’s Nice Dreams, Start The Revolution Without Me, Gremlins, Lost In America, Defending Your Life, Modern Romance, The Scout, Cat Ballou, Back To The Future, Clue, Beverly Hills Cop, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Fletch, The Golden Child, Crocodile Dundee, Tootsie, Soapdish, A Fish Called Wanda, Good Morning Viet Nam, Coming To America, Mrs. Doubtfire, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Edward Scissorhands & Buck Privates.
Whew! As you can see, I pretty much named almost every darn comedy movie ever made but there are so many that I love and I could write about them for a year and not make a dent. And yet, I know that somehow I still may have forgotten some. Anyway, here it finally is:
My Favorite Top 10 Comedy Movies
1. The Producers
2. It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
3. A Day At The Races
4. Blazing Saddles
5. Monty Python’s The Holy Grail
6. Liar, Liar
7. The Return Of The Pink Panther
8. There’s Something About Mary
9. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
10. The In-Laws
Here is my next 10 if I would have made the list a Top 20:
11. The Errand Boy
12. What About Bob?
13. Analyze That
14. Dr. Strangelove
15. Stir Crazy
16. The Nutty Professor (Both Versions)
19. Let It Ride
20. My Cousin Vinny
Well, if I left off something that you would have liked to see on this list…tough. You try to narrow down your favorite genre to a Top 10 and see how far you get. This was definitely the hardest list I ever had to write and the only good thing about it is this: any other Top 10 list I ever write will seem so easy by comparison! Once again, thanks for reading from THE COMEDY TORNADO!!