My Top 50 Comedies (Contd.)
30. Never Give A Sucker An Even Break Dir. Edward Cline
(W. C. Fields, Gloria Jean, Leon Erroll, Margaret Dumont, Franklin Pangborn)
W. C. Fields' last starring film, from a story by 'Otis Cribblecoblis'.
Don't expect it to make any sense; it doesn't. It's completely insane, but has some of the funniest bits you're ever likely to see in a comedy.
The climactic chase scene is a classic.
29. She Done Him Wrong Dir. Lowell Sherman
(Mae West, Cary Grant, Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, Rochelle Hudson)
Adapted for the screen by Mae West from her Broadway hit play.
Mae plays Diamond Lil, and Grant runs the local Salvation Army shelter, but he's really an undercover cop.
Noone before or since has ever had a way with a double entendre that Mae had. It's the film where she first said "Come up and see me sometime."
Also, her only film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and a huge hit. (It saved Paramount Pictures from bankruptcy.)
28. Jour De Fete Dir. Jacques Tati
(Jacques Tati, Guy Decomble, Paul Frankeur)
Jacques Tati's feature debut, in which he plays a small town postman who attempts to modernise delivery after seeing a film about the American postal service.
It's really just a series of delightful sight gags built around the town's Bastille Day celebration, and containing affectionate portraits of the inhabitants.
27. Manhattan Murder Mystery Dir. Woody Allen
(Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Angelica Huston, Alan Alda)
When a neighbour dies, a married woman smells a rat and nags her reluctant husband into investigating the possibility that a murder has been done.
Full of the usual great one-liners, and with a fun cast who are obviously enjoying themselves.
The finale is a nice homage to Welles' "Lady From Shanghai".
26. The Castle Dir. Rob Sitch
(Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Sophie Lee, Stephen Curry, Charles Tingwell, Teriel Mora)
A close knit, loving family fight to save their home when they are faced with a compulsory purchase order so that their property can be used to expand the local airport.
Broadly comic, unsubtle, but totally irresistable comedy which treats its characters with warmth and affection.
A huge hit in Australia and New Zealand.
25. It Happened One Night Dir. Frank Capra
(Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns)
A runaway heiress falls in love with the reporter who is helping her, initially to get a story.
Madcap romantic comedy, which set the benchmark for other screwball comedies in the following years. Great chemistry between the two stars.
The first film to scoop the four major Oscars. It still comes up fresh and sparkling after more than 75 years.
24. The Lavender Hill Mob Dir. Charles Crichton
(Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sid James, Alfie Bass, John Gregson)
Guinness plays a timid bank clerk who plans and executes a perfect scheme for pulling off a gold bullion robbery.
Superb characterisation and a wonderful eye for detail, make this not just one of the best Ealing Comedies, but one of the best comedies to come out of Britain.
The madcap chase climax is brilliantly executed.
23. Unfaithfully Yours Dir. Preston Sturges
(Rex Harrison, Linda Darnell, Rudy Vallee, Barbara Lawrence, Edgar Kennedy, Lionel Stander)
Often side-splittingly funny comedy about a famous symphony conductor (Harrison) who suspects that his wife (Darnell) is unfaithful, and imagines three possible courses of action - including murder - during a concert.
Hilarious blend of sophisticated comedy, melodrama and low slapstick. It shouldn't work, but it does, brilliantly.
The cast is faultless.
Sturges' last Hollywood film. (Remade - badly - in 1984, starring Dudley Moore and Nastassja Kinski.)
22. Safety Last Dir. Fred Newmeyer / Sam Taylor
(Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Bill Strothers, Noah Young)
Harold plays a young go-getter from the country, determined to make good in the big city so that he can marry his sweetheart.
The famous building climbing sequence, containing one of the most famous shots in the history of cinema, is still guaranteed to thrill and amaze after all these years.
21. Whiskey Galore Dir. Alexander Mackendrick
(Basil Radford, Joan Greenwood, James Robertson Justice, Jean Cadell, Gordon Jackson)
During W.W.II, a ship full of whiskey is wrecked off the coast of an island in the Hebredes, and the inhabitants do everything they can to subvert the efforts of the local Customs and Excise man to stop them getting their hands on it.
Hilarious, fast moving, well cast and beautifully detailed comedy in the best Ealing tradition.
How can I believe in God, when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?