The Dozen (or so) Funniest Movies I've Ever Seen
My "Baker's Dozen"
Yes I know - these lists are usually the Top Ten and the title usually says "The Top Ten Funniest Movies Ever" or "The Top (Put in Your Favorite Number Here) Funniest Movies of All Time" or "Ever Made" or something like that. Well, these lists are matters of opinion after all so I'm focusing on the funniest movies that I have happened to see and, if I may, I think they would be on most peoples' lists. And there just happened to be more than ten so I picked thirteen (counting the Naked Gun trilogy). By the way, "Dr. Strangelove" is my vote for #1 and the rest are in no particular order.
Now then, here goes.
Number One in my book is "Doctor Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb." This movie is pure genius and Peter Sellers (playing 3 roles including Dr. Strangelove) stands out. There are so many funny moments in it it's hard to pick highlights but I'll say this -- I saw this movie in the theatre when it came out and, when Slim Pickens rode that A-bomb waving his hat and yelling "Yahoo!" I literally fell out of my seat I was laughing so hard! Notable quote: "You can't fight in here, this is the War Room!"
Another movie absolutely full of laughs. Many people might not know this, but the characters in this movie are based on National Lampoon's classic 1964 High School Yearbook which is now a collector's item. I was in college in the 1960s and I witnessed more than a few fraternity pranks but nothing like these guys! John Belushi leads a great cast of frat brothers who are into partying and girls and generally raising hell on campus. Absolutely hilarious. Notable quote: "Seven years of college down the drain!"
Another work of genius, this time from Mel Brooks. A parody of the old movies "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein," it even uses some of the original sets. The cast is perfect (Gene Wilder, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman and Madeline Kahn) but one stand out is Marty Feldman as Igor ("That's pronounced 'Eye-gor!'") Notice how the hump on his back keeps shifting from side to another. And there's the Monster (Peter Boyle) whose anatomical features are, shall we say, abnormally large. One particular scene stands out -- Gene Hackman playing a blind recluse who gets a visit from the Monster and tries to serve him soup - hilarious! Some may think "Blazing Saddles" is Brooks' funniest movie but "Young Frankenstein" is my pick. Notable quote: "Ah sweet mystery of life at last I've found you!"
The ultimate sports comedy whereupon a woman inherits the Cleveland Indians from her late husband and then deliberately hires (what she thinks) are terrible players in order to get out from under her contract with the city and move the team to Florida. Bob Eucker plays the team's announcer and it's worth seeing the movie just to listen to him calling the play-by-play! Great cast with Tom Berenger as a catcher looking for one more season in the sun, and Charlie Sheen ("Wild Thing!") as the relief pitcher who needs glasses. Unfortunately for the owner, the players decide to win it all. Notable quote: "I hate that f-----g song!"
You Can't Take It With You
A Frank Capra film from the late 1930s with a great cast (Lionel Barrymore, Jean Arthur, Jimmie Stewart, and Eddie Arnold) about an eccentric family. I know it's old but it is still hilarious. Here's a quote from a website called "Film School Rejects" from a review by Robert Levin: "A true collection of eccentrics, they spend much of their time in the living room, where daughter Penny (Spring Byington) pounds away on her typewriter, granddaughter Essie (Ann Miller) twirls around to the beat of a xylophone played by her husband Ed (Dub Taylor), her coach Boris Kolenkhov (Mischa Auer) frequently turns up to spout bombastic Russian stereotypes and Grandpa Vanderhof (Lionel Barrymore) lords over everything as a the family patriarch. Frequently, Paul (Samuel S. Hinds), Penny’s husband, bounds upstairs from the basement, where he sets off fireworks and performs other silly experiments." May sound corny by today's standards (no sex jokes, kids!) but I think it holds up well.
The classic take-off on airplane disaster movies with so many jokes it's hard to keep up. From airplanes crashing into the terminal to pilots who like little boys to using "unusual techniques" to quiet overstressed passengers, it's pure slapstick. Great cast with Robert Stack, Peter Graves, and Robert Hays. Check out how the stewardess (Julie Hagerty) inflates the autopilot! Notable quote (among many): " There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?"
Another madcap comedy about war (!) - this one inspired a long-running TV series but, in my opinion, the movie is far superior. Again, a great cast (Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Sally Kellerman, Tom Skerritt, and a young Robert Duvall), this is the story of a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital ("MASH") in the Korean War but most critics agree it was really about Vietnam. In any case, it's extremely funny (check out the scene where the doctors are trying to decide if Hotlips (Sally Kellerman) is a natural blonde. Oh, and the scene where she got her nickname! Notable Quote:
"Attention. Tonight's movie has been "M*A*S*H." Follow the zany antics of our combat surgeons as they cut and stitch their way along the front lines, operating as bombs - [chuckles] operating as bombs and bullets burst around them; snatching laughs and love between amputations and penicillin."
The Naked Gun (Trilogy)
Ok it's three movies but the 2nd one, in my mind, stands out. In 1982, there was a short-lived TV comedy series entitled "Police Squad" with Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebbin. A total spoof of cop shows, it came from the same crew that produced "Airplane!" Packed with sight gags and more jokes than you can count, it was cancelled after only six episodes but led to the making of the "Naked Gun" trilogy:
"The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!"
" The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear"
"Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult"
Pure slapstick and funny from beginning to end, check out the scene in the 2nd film where Drebbin is trying to scale a wall by throwing a grappling hook over it. What he doesn't know is he's hooked a ticked-off Doberman Pinscher on the other side and they "meet" at the top! Just one of many extremely funny scenes in this movie. Also check out O.J. Simpson (!) as Inspector Nordberg. Notable quote: Mrs. Nordberg: "Oh, my poor Nordberg! He was such a good man, Frank. He never wanted to hurt anyone. Who would do such a thing?"
Frank: "It's hard to tell. A gang of thugs, a blackmailer, an angry husband, a gay lover..."
A Shot in the Dark
The second of the Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau movies (the others all have "The Pink Panther" in their titles). Actually, all the Pink Panther movies are hilarious (Sellers was a comedic genius) but this one stands out in my mind, if for no other reason when Kato (his houseboy) attacks him while he tries to make love to Elke Sommer. As usual, Clouseau drives his boss (played by Herbert Lom) absolutely nuts. Notable quote: " Give me ten men like Clouseau and I could destroy the world."
There are many Marx Brothers movies that are hilarious but this one takes the cake. Groucho plays Rufus T. Firefly who is called in to save the bankrupt country of Freedonia and trying to save it from the clutches of the neighboring country of Sylvania. There are usual sight gags and double entendres from Groucho, Chico, and Harpo but the scene that stands out is the famous Mirror Scene. You have to see this to believe it so I've incorporated a link to Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKTT-sy0aLg
In 1990 the United States Library of Congress deemed Duck Soup "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. (Source: Wikipedia)
Notable quote: " . . . remember, while you're out there risking life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are."
One of Eddie Murphy's funniest ("Coming to America" is a close second) whereupon he, playing a homeless street hustler, is switched with a Wall Street broker (Dan Akroyd) to settle a bet between two old codgers (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy who, as the Duke brothers, run an investment firm). Akroyd ends up framed for a drug crime he didn't commit while Murphy leads the life of Riley in Akroyd's elegant town house, complete with manservant. Eventually the two figure out what's going on and vow to get even with the two Duke brothers. The scene where Murphy first encounters a hot tub is a classic. Jamie Lee Curtis as a prostitute who befriends Akroyd is a standout. Notable quote: "Try no legs, you won't go back.
So there you have my top twelve (give or take) for whatever it's worth. A few honorable mentions: "Kelly's Heroes" with an all-star cast headed by Clint Eastwood, "There's Something About Mary" with Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, and Cameron Diaz, the aforementioned "Blazing Saddles" by Mel Brooks, my wife's favorite "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" with Steve Martin and John Candy, "Midnight Run" with Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin, and one of my favorites "Play It Again, Sam" with Woody Allen. Any of those could have been in the list above (especially the Woody Allen film). I'm sure readers will have their favorites, but, I'll tell you what - rent any of these, get a big bag of popcorn, and prepare to laugh your head off!