As autumn creeps in and the weather turns colder, there are few things I love as much as curling up with a good movie or two… or even three. And after a long day, I love having something to laugh at.
So here are some of my favorite comedies in no particular order, in case you’re looking for a source of a few good giggles anytime soon.
Whiskey Galore, also known in some places as Tight Little Island. There are those who say that to understand the Scots, one must watch the original version of Wicker Man. Pffft! say I! This is the stuff if you want to understand my ancestors. I’m only a second-generation American on my father’s side, you know. His grandparents crossed over to Canada from the Isle of North Uist. Good luck finding it on a map.
Anyway, Whiskey Galore is based on a novel by Compton MacKenzie, who based his story on a true incident during WWII. With all the rationing because of the war, the tiny island of Toddy finds itself in a terrible predicament for Scotsmen: there is no more whiskey! As the dire effects of this disaster make themselves felt more and more, a ship hauling a cargo of thousands of cases of whiskey goes down off the coast of the island. The officer in charge of the local militia (an Englishman, of course) decides that the precious cargo must be guarded from all looters. The Islanders, of course, have a very different take on the matter. And so the mirth begins.
The cast includes some great character actors of the time, including the pictured James Robertson Justice, Basil Radcliffe, Joan Greenwood (the only woman who could growl and squeak at the same time!), and a young Gordon Jackson some twenty-odd years before he made his mark playing the butler, Hudson, on Upstairs, Downstairs.
All About Eve. Ah, the delicious, delicious sarcasm and wiliness of this film! The brilliant camera work! The fabulous cast! From Bette Davis and Anne Baxter through Celeste Holm and Thelma Ritter (one of my personal favorite performers of all time), to the inimitable George Sanders, right down to Marilyn Monroe’s breakout performance, this is one not to miss. Decades before Single White Female, this is the original movie about being stalked. Enjoy the poisonously funny ride. Oh, but fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.
Animal House. It’s rude, crude, sexist, sophomoric and still one of the funniest films ever made, in my not so humble opinion. It also launched the careers of some of my favorite actors currently working, including Kevin Bacon. Without this film, we would have to come up with six degrees of some other actor. Without this film, Karen Allen would never have made it to Indiana Jones. Without this film, well, we would have had to do without the late, great John Belushi’s arguably greatest work.
I think that’s worth a little T&A humor… which I also happen to laugh heartily at.
Blow Dry. This little-known gem features a truly stellar cast. Alan Rickman, Natasha Richardson, Bill Nighy, Rachael Leigh Cook, Rachel Griffiths, Josh Hartnett, and a host of other wildly talented people. As for the story, well, it’s an international hair dressing competition being held in a two-bit village in England. Rickman and Richardson used to be hairdressing partners and used to be married… until Richardson ran off with their best model (Griffiths). Can the three work together again to win back their laurels?
Yeah, I know, it doesn’t sound like much on the surface, but stick with me. The script is smart, funny, and sometimes truly touching. And then there are the characters in the competition. Besequinned glitterati of the salon, they bring touches of the surreal to the simple story. And then there’s the mayor, played by the always fabulous Warren Clarke, who goes more and more and more Vegas with every appearance. And on top of all that, there’s Heidi Klum in her film debut in all her deranged glory.
This is a film that tends to wind up in the ‘please, for the love of pretzels take this dog off our hands’ bins in the rare places where you can find a copy. But really, it’s well worth giving a good home.
And hey, if anyone out there has a good comic gem to share, please tell us all about it! I would love to be turned on to a new source of yucks.