Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Must See Films: Comedy

This week’s must-see films are comedies from 1970 onward. This might be worthy of a little explanation. First, I’ve heard that comedies make up half of all movies made. I can’t source that but it sounds about right. Because of that one would expect a list of great comedies to be quite long. In many cases I’ve included comedies on other lists – Studio Films from the 1940’s or American Independent Films for example. These comedies are ones that didn’t fall naturally on any other lists which keeps these two lists manageable in length.

Also, why since the 1970’s? Well, as I said, many earlier comedies fall on other lists. But my lists are biased toward comedies after 1970. This is partly because I’ve seen more movies made after 1970. But it also has to do, I think, with the fact that comedies don’t always age as well as other types of movies. In fact, the more “high brow” forms such as satire don’t tend to age as well as the more “low brow” forms such as physical comedy or romantic comedy. This is because the former usually deals with the socio-political conditions of their times and once those times pass they become less relevant, while the latter deal with human nature which is unchanging.

Comedy is often called a genre though I think of it more as a tone. I do think there are some comedy-specific genres like romantic comedy, satire, parody, broad comedy, screwball, etc. I’ve divided my comedy lists into two broad categories: Romantic Comedy (including lighter character comedy and “dramedy”) and Broad Comedy (including parody).

As always, the reason for inclusion key is HS – Historical Significance, PF – Personal Favorite, AF – Art of Filmmaking

When Harry Met Sally… (written by Nora Ephron) – PF, AF, HS
Princess Bride (screenplay by William Goldman) – PF, AF
Splash (story by Brian Grazer, screen story by Bruce Jay Friedman, screenplay by Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel and Bruce Jay Friedman) – PF
Arthur (written by Steve Gordon) – PF, AF
Annie Hall (written by Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman) – AF, HS
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (story by Charlie Kaufman & Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth, screenplay by Charlie Kaufman) – PF, AF

This is Spinal Tap (written by Christopher Guest & Michael McKean & Harry Shearer & Rob Reiner) – PF, AF, HS
Raising Arizona (written by Joel & Ethan Coen) – PF, AF, HS
Shaun of the Dead (written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright) – PF, AF
Ghostbusters (written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis) – PF, AF
Fargo (written by Joel & Ethan Coen) – PF, AF
Blazing Saddles (story by Andrew Bergman, screenplay by Mel Brooks & Norman Steinberg & Andrew Bergman & Richard Pryor & Alan Uger) – PF, HS
Borat (story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Peter Baynham & Anthony Hines & Todd Phillips, screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Peter Baynham & Anthony Hines & Dan Mazer) – PF, AF, HS
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (written by Graham Chapman & John Cleese & Eric Idle & Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones & Michael Palin) – PF, AF, HS

1 comment:

Sanket said...

I think Fargo cannot be considered a comedy. It had some rather humorous moments, but certainly not comical ones.
I hope you agree that Pulp Fiction had several comic scenes, though it will never be called comedy.