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Category Archives: comedy

Building My movie Posters Puzzle: A Night at the Opera


In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Following last week’s inspection of the great transatlantic comedy duo Laurel and Hardy, comes one of the most highly praised efforts of the even more famous American immigrant comedy team, the Marx Brothers. Although there were five different brothers who joined the act at different times, the three most well-known show off the true depth and versatility of their talents in A Night at the Opera, an expression of sheer unadulterated entertainment. As is often the case with comedy, it is difficult to write a lot about this movie specifically without risking taking the air out of it. I’ll cover some of the background for the production and the history of the brothers in general, but to get a real sense of the thing, you’ll want to search out A Night at the Opera for your own viewing pleasure. It is one of those movies that it is entirely possible to smile all the way through.
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Building My Movie Posters Puzzle: Another Fine Mess


In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Here is another rather unique entry in this series. The stars of Another Fine Mess certainly are very deserving of their place among the greats of cinema. What makes it a little different from most of what we’ve seen so far though, is that this comedy is a short subject, lasting just over twenty-eight minutes. That the gags and beats in it are relatively well conceived and executed is not just due to the established proficiency of Laurel and Hardy themselves, but must also be attributed to the fact that the story and script had been tried out elsewhere a couple of times. First, it appeared as the stage play “Home From the Honeymoon,” and then a silent version was attempted by Laurel and Hardy themselves in their Duck Soup just three years earlier (Leo McCarey, who worked with the pair extensively while at Hal Roach productions would later use “Duck Soup” again as a title for a Marx Brothers movie). It should also be mentioned that the story was written by Stan Laurel’s own Father, Arthur J Jefferson.
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Building My Movie Posters Puzzle: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman


In late June of last year I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

This puzzle sure has a lot of genre and “B” pictures represented, doesn’t it? It’s sort of a mixed bag, including the aforementioned populist fare alongside Oscar bait pictures, classic comedians, and yes some truly great films. Aside from pointing out that there’s nothing here from after the 1970s, you can’t really complain that it isn’t trying to be genre inclusive. Today we’re looking at a movie that, in my personal experience, is actually more famous for its poster than for the film it was created to promote. During my twenties I seem to remember this poster cropping up on the walls of plenty of my female friends’ apartments. I’m not sure how many of them had actually seen the movie, but the poster in itself could certainly be interpreted as an expression of female strength. Being that it was written, directed, and produced by men in 1958, I don’t think it should be much surprise that Attack of the 50 Foot Woman doesn’t quite live up to its iconic advertisement’s implied promises.
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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Austin Powers vs The Fifth Element


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Well, here we are in our second-to-last bout of this bracket game and we’ve got a pretty surprising pairing fighting it out for a spot in the final. As I did previously, I’ll be covering a couple of actors from the flicks in question.
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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Liar Liar vs Austin Powers


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One of the challenges of writing for these bracket games is in finding connective tissue between the competing films. Sometimes there’s not much to go on and it’s necessary to scrap any pretense of commonality. But this time I was gifted with a spectacularly thin excuse for a theme based entirely on the location of the presented scenes, the power dynamics which are typically at play there, and how they are undermined.
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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Chasing Amy vs The Full Monty


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Today we’ve got a matchup of two…sexy indie comedies…sort of. By the late nineties the role of sex in feature films had gone through some discernible changes. While a little gratuitous nudity and some suggestive situations were key elements in many mainstream films of the eighties, the advent of home video (and then the internet) had made filmmakers and studios begin to think differently. If a horny teenager could get ahold of actual pornography to watch at home, why would the random appearance of naked breasts in what is otherwise a stupid “coming of age” comedy or action thriller be a worthwhile draw? The effects of the AIDS crisis could also continue to be felt, as sex was less often trivialized and exploited, but talked about with a lot more specificity. The growth of the indie movie market in particular helped fill this niche. Audiences of the nineties could pretty easily see something a little sexy in their movies while still ostensibly getting a bit of substance. Many times this was 100% true, but other times there really was just the thinnest veneer of respectability laid over what was only a rental come-on. Whether this was any kind of improvement will be a matter of taste, but in 1999 American Pie certainly proved that there was still a market for the wild teen sex comedy. Personally, I like the idea of there being a little of both.

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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Austin Powers vs Grosse Pointe Blank


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Today we’ve got a matchup between two movies that take different tracks toward mining comedy out of characters whose jobs require that they put themselves in violent circumstances. While Mike Myers’ Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is a wildly over the top Saturday Night Live-style spoof of 60s era fashions and entertainment, Grosse Pointe Blank is a rather dissimilar fish out of water tale that takes its cast and violence a little more seriously. Although the latter film is less obviously a take on a particular era, check out that banner behind Cusack’s noggin. His movie certainly isn’t averse to taking advantage of its audience’s nostalgia. It’s also reasonable to take a look at those two posters above and realize that none of the people there are what could be called movie stars anymore.

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Movies of 1997 Bracket Game: Liar, Liar vs My Best Friend’s Wedding


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Tired of all of the gritty, serious, award-winning movies we’ve been covering so far? Well, today should be the salve to that particular problem. It’s sort of our semi-official big budget mainstream comedy bracket and it features two of the biggest movie stars of the time in Jim Carrey and Julia Roberts. Both easily eclipsed the $100 million mark domestically and around $300 million worldwide. These hits came at particularly good times for both Carrey and Roberts.
Let’s talk about it!
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Building my Movie Posters Puzzle: Pillow Talk


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In late June I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

Despite its frothy reputation, there’s a reason that Pillow Talk, starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day, was both hugely successful at the box office and the recipient of some awards season love. That reason was rather accurately identified by the Academy when they awarded the film with 1959’s Oscar for Original Screenplay. The admittedly antiquated storyline and plot devices are clever nonetheless, and the dialogue is straight out smart and funny. For example, in response to Hudson’s character thinking her new beau’s intentions are not necessarily honorable, Day retorts “Not all men finish every sentence with a proposition.”
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Building my Movie Posters Puzzle: Dr. Strangelove


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In late June I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.

This third installment in Building My Movie Posters Puzzle sees yet another leap forward on the calendar, this time from 1939 to 1964. I can promise you that this will not be a continuing trend. It is of some mild interest that despite the 25 years of progress between the release of our last entry, The Wizard of Oz, and Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick and company made the decision to shoot entirely in black and white, whereas Oz is famously presented in both black and white and color. Obviously, for a long time after, filmmakers felt very free to select either approach to filming and displaying their movies. Although color was steadily becoming the preferred format, if you take a look at the top-grossing films of 1964 you will find a few that were released in black and white, including Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Zorba the Greek, The Night of the Iguana, and A Hard Day’s Night. You appeared to need a motivating artistic reason for shooting in black and white, but studios were apparently not yet dead set against it and there was plenty of audience left that didn’t seem to mind (at least one commenter here at LeBlog claims to never watch black and white movies).
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Movies of 1986 Bracket Game!: Little Shop of Horrors vs Blue Velvet


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Here we are in the second round of our 1986 movies bracket and we’ve already given the boot to some well-loved films. As someone who has spent large portions of my life bringing stories to life on stage as an actor I have always been very interested in watching how a specific performer’s work develops for the better or worse over a span of many years. Lebeau’s “What the Hell Happened…” series appeals to me because of this. With quite a few chambers of our guns already empty I’m going to spend this round of the bracket game selecting one actor from each film and discussing some interesting factor in their work since 1986.

Just to be clear, you should still be voting based the movie, not on the actor.

Now guess who that nurse from Little Shop is!
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Movies of 1986 Bracket Game!: Ruthless People vs Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


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Here we are in the second round of our 1986 movies bracket and we’ve already given the boot to some well-loved films. As someone who has spent large portions of my life bringing stories to life on stage as an actor I have always been very interested in watching how a specific performer’s work develops for the better or worse over a span of many years. Lebeau’s “What the Hell Happened…” series appeals to me because of this. With quite a few chambers of our guns already empty I’m going to spend this round of the bracket game selecting one actor from each film and discussing some interesting factor in their work since 1986.

Let’s have at it!
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Movies of 1986 Bracket Game!: Back to School vs Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


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In a fit of nostalgia for our crappy teen years, we here at LeBlog have decided to run another of our popular bracket games, this time focusing on the best big screen entertainment 1986 had to offer. Oh yeah, and whether we like it or not, that was a full thirty years ago. Since 1986 is the year I got my driver’s license, it’s also the year I started seeing a lot of frivolous movies my parents had no interest in. We’re featuring two such movies today in a continuation of the comedy portion of our bracket. One movie focuses on the hi-jinx of a too-cool-for-school teenager as he and his friends go to great lengths to distance themselves from public education, while the other follows the hi-jinx of a rich old businessman who divorces his cheating wife and enrolls in college with his son, becoming the most popular student on campus at Grand Lakes University. Either way, hi-jinx will ensue.
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