1960's epic comedies

How about Leo McKern as the evil prime minister?

Got it on my iPod. :wink:

We’ll have to disagree. The ferris wheel scene, the Japanese in awe saying ‘Horrywoooooood!’, the Jaws gag at the beginning, Raoul Lipschitz… I’ll admit that it was not as funny as it could have been, but there were plenty of laughs in it for me. (And being a fan of the era and knowing the events upon which the film was based/was lampooning, I appreciated it.)

Then I say to you, you have no appreciation for the fine, nearly lost art of slapstick comedy. I weep for you.

I went to 1941 wanting so it to be good so much, but it was just too heavy handed. If Spielberg would have just taken a step back in a handful of places, I think it could have worked. I too was a fan of the era, but I just felt it didn’t work. One of the biggest flaws for me was the casting. So many people were miscast.

I’m a huge fan of The Great Race. My buddies and I quote it all the time. Aside from the aforementioned “Push the button, Max” and “I never mix my pies,” there’s:

“NOW will you give me some fighting room?”
“WHO’S Texas Jack?”
“I have a boat waiting!”
“THIS is car number five!”

Okay, I’m off to my Netflix queue. Haven’t seen it for too long!..TRM

Save your tears. There’s nothing like a good pratfall, and 1941 doesn’t have anything resembling a good pratfall. Noisy cacophany? Sure. Great slapstick is like (destructive) poetry in motion, not a bull in a china shop.

Weep all you like, but it’s a terrible movie. If Orwell’s future is a boot hitting a face forever, then Mad~ is the comedic equivalent.

The Mouse That Roared is English and is a milestone of English understatement. It’s almost the opposite of a loud gaudy American comedy.

Around the World in Eighty Days is certainly the progenitor of this period. It was a huge success, had countless cameos, won a bunch of Oscars, and was publicized almost as much for how much money got spent as for anything in the script.

Why did the genre die? A few reasons, starting with the fact that the movies never were all that funny to begin with. Almost all the best comedies in movie history focus on a few characters, giving them time to create personalities and then base the humor on their personalities instead of a few jokes or funny situations. (Airplane! may be the one big exception, but the genre it spawned went downhill very fast.)

Superspectaculars were seen as relics of the past by younger audiences as the 60s turned into the 70s. Who wanted to see cameos by aging movie stars when Woody Allen and Mel Brooks were making movies that spoofed those conventions? None of the hot young directors of the 70s ever went near that overblown type of comedy until Spielberg tried 1941, and that was a giant flop. Those directors realized that making movies that were bigger and louder than television was a losing proposition. They made movies better and more adult than television.

We’re back in a bigger and louder movie period today and all the adults have left again. No coincidence there.

“Leslie escaped with a CHICKEN?!?”

Me, too. I sought out and own a VHS copy of Who’s Minding the Mint. It is a real delight.

I would also like to mention the made-for-TV “Evil Roy Slade”, featuring John Astin, Pamela Austin, Mickey Rooney, Edie Adams, Henry Gibson, Dick Shawn, Milton Berle, Dom DeLuise, Pat Morita, etc. (Also Penny Marshall, in what I think was her first movie appearance – uncredited.) Mostly pretty silly, but John Astin did a great job as the title character.


Yes I was thinking of that one as well. I think it definitely qualifies and may have been the film that established the genre. Didn’t care for the film too much though and I love the book.

See, this is just the sort of movie snobbery I abhor. I like loud, fast comedies, therefore my preference is childish. Good comedies should be deep and thoughtful commentaries on human relationships, with the humor arising gently from well-rounded characters that we can all recognize in ourselves.

Great. Make those comedies. I don’t mind. But I don’t go into discussions of Woody Allen et al, and say he’s as funny as slow moving melanoma.

There is a paucity of good comedy today, but mostly it’s due to a lack of good slapstick comedy, not an overabundance of it.

I nominate What’s New Pussycat, with the great Peter Sellers as wanna-be-hip psychiatrist Fritz Fassbender (I sink you haff a schexual block vit de schpelling of zat naughty name), Peter O’ Toole, Woody Allen (who wrote it) and a veritable cornacopia (sp) of the 60s most beautiful ladies: Paula Prentiss (rowwrr), Romy Schneider, Capucine, Ursula Undress (thanks Mad Magazine).

Not necessarily the largest of all-star casts, but certainly of the type of movie the OP describes, particularly the big go-cart chase scene at the end. One of my favorite movies.

“Get offa the bed!!!”

“I hate you.”

Question: Who could possibly upstage Jack Lemmon in his funniest role ever?

Answer: A bunch of wiggly, snorty, chubby pugs, that’s who!

FWIW, I hate It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, too – and I really wanted to like it. Dammit, it’s got all those comedians in it. It’s got The Three Stooges! Although it wastes them on a mere unfunny cameo.

It’s not a question of snobbery – you can’t like the Three Stooges and be a snob. The movie simply doesn’t work for me. It looks like a frenetic exercise in working extremely hard at something and putting a huge amount of effort and expense in the hopes of producing bigger laughs. But the truth is that I didn’t get one chuckle out of the whole thing. I watch it with a sense of detachment. i got more out of Airplane. Heck, I got more out of Scary Movie IV.

The only moment that does anything for me is Jimmy Durante literally Kicking the Bucket as he dies.

Fact: *1941 *sucks.

Other awesomely entertaining films that are kind of nearly in the genre, but maybe not actually quite dead center of it:
The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!
What a Way to Go
John Goldfarb, Please Come Home
Arrivederci, Baby*

Of the ones mentioned upthread, the greatest course is IAMMMMW. Truly defines the genre. I have a soft spot for The Great Race, though.

Another genre-skirter–not actually a comedy–is Sidney Lumet’s epic bauble Murder on the Orient Express. Lumet obviously had a hoot and a half working outside his comfort zone, and the scale of the story–not to mention the scale of the cast–makes for some truly memorable set pieces. And some sublime cinematography by Geoffrey (2001) Unsworth.

You didn’t mention Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies with Tony Curtis, Terry Thomas, and Gert Frobe among others which I really enjoyed and was on a par with Those Magnificient Men…

I would say they harkened back to the Big Broadcast of… back in the '30s with people like Bob Hope, Ethel Merman, Burns and Allen among others.

I would suggest that what killed the genre or at least was a contributing factor was the death of the old-fashioned studio system where you had all the actors under a single contract and could control their lives and schedules. I don’t think that could be a real possibility these days although George Clooney and his rekindling of the Ocean’s concept sort of moves in that direction.

I would have to say for style, production value, music, and stars, it would have to be The Great Race. I mean, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Jack Lemon, Kennen Wynn, Ross Martin, Larry Storch and Peter Falk - that’s a cast to take notice of.

I did, in post #8.

Of course, the Three Stooges were ancient by then. Still, it was good seeing them and you could almost fill in the wackiness that was about to take place even without them acually doing anything. For me, it worked.

While Mad is not as funny as it was when I first saw it as a kid on TV, I still find it enjoyable.

A similar made for TV movie was Murder Can Hurt You which was a spoof of TV PI/cop movies. definitely not epic but it kind of fits.

It’s odd; of those names, Larry Storch is the only one I think of as primarily a comedian.

Keenan Wynn, maybe. In my memory, he’s quite serious, but all the movies I remember him in were comedies.