Criterion collection is in sore need for an uplift. All this heavy stuff is fine but it’s like a touch of hot pepper or garlic — a little goes a long way. Or put another way, too much of a good thing turns sour.
I will admit, it is lacking in the comedy section. However, it does have some that are worthwhile. Wes Anderson films are hilarious. Jacques Tati has a few great comedies in there. The Rene Clair films are funny. MAN BITES DOG is very dark, but hilarious (but makes you feel guilty for laughing sometimes too). The Terry Gilliam films are again dark but meant to be funny. LIFE OF BRIAN. KICKING & SCREAMING. METROPOLITAN. THIS IS SPINAL TAP. BREATHLESS and some of the other New Wave films are charming and fun. The Jim Jarmusch films are funny. DAZED & CONFUSED. SLACKER.
These are only a few of the ones I could think of off-hand. Granted, not all of them are gut-busting hilarious, but they would be categorized as comedies. And again, it’s not an overwhelming majority or anything, but Criterion does seem to strive to put out films that are thought-provoking and art-oriented. Kind of the nature of that beast is that it’s not always going for a laugh. Really, all things that are held up as “great” tend to be quite unhumorous. Take a glance at the lists of what are considered Great Literature…pretty dry. I’d have to say that when trying to expand my film knowledge, I turn to Criterion. If I’m looking to unwind and laugh my ass of, that’s when I tend to go to other resources.
I will say that Coconuts would be a good addition though.
The Coconuts is readily available in The Marx Brothers Box Set-The Silver Screen Collection. Laurel and Hardy deserve better than what’s out there-need to restore their early work such as what has been done for Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. Criterion tends towards films which have a drier sense of humor such as Jacque Tati(I have yet to so much as crack a smile while watching one of his dull films).
Agreed. More are needed.
But I just have to mention the genius of W.C. Fields. Though the majority of films are found elsewhere, particularly in a sister pair of collector sets, Criterion offers the short films and The Bank Dick. Memorial of these (as the others), it is few and far between the times I have laughed near a point of suffocation.
I mean that.
mark: These are virile, misogynistic, misanthropic, terribly un-p.c., madcap, often plot-less pieces of comic gold whose protagonist ceases ever to be sober. These are not the Marx’s, there are no musical interludes, these do not shed light upon the human soul as Chaplin and Keaton do, and sport a more direct approach to depicting human folly than the genius duo of Laurel & Harvey even imagined of doing. You were warned.
Well, Brian, I’m of another generation. I don’t find rock and roll or its paradies funny. You didn’t refer to Laurel and Hardy films at all. Have you seen any of them? Like for instance, “Two Tars.” There’s ashort film with punch and humor which is quite sardonic. There are others which I won’t go into now. There’s no point arguing taste which, after all, is personal and deeply dependant on personal experiences. You can have your Dazed and Confused, and This is Spinal Tap, and Kicking and Screaming (I tried watching the Criterion copy and couldn’t get further into it than the first 5-10 minutes.)
But the Laurel and Hardy films — conceived and written by Laurel — have substance, pathos and humor and gallantry well beyond the norm. There’s a bit of sunshine in them, and it’s a sad time that their good works are being given such awful treatments. Of course, they are of a different era and require a little calming down. But then again patience brings rewards hard to imagine in this hysterical world. Cheers, please.
P.S. Brian: Yes, Jacques tati was and is great.
I will admit Ralph, I haven’t gotten into Laurel & Hardy too much yet (I remember watch some as a kid, but cannot remember details). But I do love silent comedies (probably why I didn’t venture too far into the talkies of the 30s and 40s).
I do understand how a lot of the films I mentioned may not be to your liking, some aren’t even to mine. I was merely trying to point out Criterion’s comedy selections.
Well, this is to Criterion as well as all you good fellows out there: The best films of Laurel & Hardy: BIG BUSINESS, TWO TARS, BLOCKHEADS, SONS OF THE DESERT, A CHUMP AT OXFORD, PACK UP YOUR TROUBLES, BEAU HUNKS (The final scene will put you helpless ON the FLOOR), THE MUSIC BOX (won prize), COUNTY HOSPITAL, BUSY BODIES, and others I haven’t scene but wish I could find good quality transfers like: WAY OUT WEST, and the classic — which has been mangled and cut in all available copies — BABES IN TOYLAND. All these and more deserve the Criterion treatment. Is there anybody out there that will agree with me??
I really would like to see Tait’s “Parade” released. It isn’t in print anywhere else as far as I know. I think at least one or two of Stephen Chow’s comedy’s belong in the collection. He is the only director keeping alive the comedy of early pioneers such as The Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy in their films.
Steve, yes Coconuts is available ONLY in that boxed edition and the recording isn’t up to Criterion’s standards of excellence, which I think it deserves for reasons that are not useful to detail here.
Also, Laurel & Hardy’s best films are fast disappearing and deserve our attention. Their good-natured bumbling have under the surface great moral lessons for today. Take the TWO TARS for example. The ending clearly teaches both sides of the Palestinian conflict the futility of the “get even” idea as a way of winning a conflict. They show with with a terrific humor steeped in humanity that somehow, sometime, someone must stop that process of “revenge” to avoid self annihilation. Criterion editors: check me out!
I think Withnail and I deserves a nod. Pretty depressing, sure, but in the driest, most English way possible. And with ass loads of drugs.
Tanto et al: The generation gap is now very clear. Tanto, are you suggesting that WITHNAIL AND I is humorous — I mean funny? What is funny about some young guys drinking and smoking and (capable of having sex), and by that method destroying their brains and their lives Honestly, with all respect, I’d rather watch YOJIMBO where Toshiro Miune, a healthy, skilled, honest samurai cuts up a bunch of nasty people in ancient China than watch any of what you young people are suggesting. I started out hoping there were enough of you young people out there that would support my argument that Criterion should remaster and issue the best of Laurel& hardy comdies and perhaps the marx brothers. And what do I get back: watch: LIFE OF BRIAN,. KICKING & SCREAMING, THIS IS SPINAL TAP,. DAZED & CONFUSED, SLACKER, BREATHLESS, and now WITHNAIL AND I. Those are comedies? I think I’d better stop here because I can see I’m not making my case clear enough, or strong enough to get any support. I ‘m beginning to suspect that if any of you younger generation see any of even the best of Laurel and Hardy, you’ll be bored silly. At this point the French would say, “That’s life.!” bu the British on the other hand, would counter with “What a Pity!” — implying things could’ve been better. Either way, case closed unless someone else opens up the issue again. Cheers, Everybody.
Comedy’s such a subjective beast. There are quite a few comedies on Criterion that have not been mentioned:
Fishing with John (I know it’s not a film), Rushmore, Good Morning, I Know Where I’m Going!, The Lady Eve, Big Deal On Madonna Street, My Man Godfrey, Sullivan’s Travels, Billy Liar, The Fireman’s Ball, The Horse’s Mouth, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Importance of Being Earnest, À nous la liberté, Down By Law, Schizopolis, Smiles of a Summer Night, Tanner ‘88 (I also know it’s not a film), Unfaithfully Yours, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Kind Hearts and Coronets and Bottle Rocket.
This list doesn’t include many of the satires and films that have a solid amount of comedy in them.
Once again, comedy is a subjective beast.
All by Buster Keaton
it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world. worth it for the cast alone and the possibilities for bonus features boggles the mind.
I have not seen any “classic” comedies such as Duck Soup or ANY Buster Keaton or Ernst Lubitsch
i need to fix that..
But I can say Jon Faverau’s 2001 movie “Made” is one of my favorite comedies.
I liked Road Trip and Old School. I feel they are classic. Starsky and Hutch was god awful, so todd needs to do another comedy, pronto.
Well, I give up. You people out there don’t seem to have any interest in Laurel and Hardy films. Have any of you seen the titles I listed above? And as for M. Wood, you are absolutely correct on all you say. However, and you’ can guess there’s be a “however,” I don’t agree that all you’ve listed are comedies except, perhaps, that they don’t end in tragic death. Sure, MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM, and MUCHADO ABOUT NOTHING are comedies but there aren’t any scenes in there are real out loud laughter possible. I like them all. But they aren’t the comedies that I’d like to see when home alone on a cold night and I want to see something that would make nme feel good at the end. MY MAN GODFREY ISN’T ONE OF THEM Neither is "BILLY LIAR, or is DOWN BY LAW, SCHIZOPOLIA,. What is this facination about dope takers, alcoholics, and the like. I’ve alays liked I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING (saw it as a first-run) but hrdly a laugh in the whole fine film. Go take a look at BEAU HUNKS and tell me you don’t get a howl from the final scene — there are other scenes —but that one I can’t ever forgewt. I laugh just thinking about it. Take a chance. Try it. Peace unto all of you fine fellows that have taken the interest and the time tyo respond and get me straightened out. Cheers,
Well, I give up. You people out there don’t seem to have any interest in Laurel and Hardy films. Have any of you seen the titles I listed above? And as for M. Wood, you are absolutely correct on all you say. However, and you’ can guess there’s be a “however,” I don’t agree that all you’ve listed are comedies except, perhaps, that they don’t end in tragic death. Sure, MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM, and MUCHADO ABOUT NOTHING are comedies but there aren’t any scenes in there are real out loud laughter possible. I like them all. But they aren’t the comedies that I’d like to see when home alone on a cold night and I want to see something that would make nme feel good at the end. MY MAN GODFREY ISN’T ONE OF THEM Neither is "BILLY LIAR, or is DOWN BY LAW, SCHIZOPOLIA,. What is this facination about dope takers, alcoholics, and the like. I’ve alays liked I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING (saw it as a first-run) but hardly a laugh in the whole fine film.
Go take a look at BEAU HUNKS (Laurel and Hardy) and tell me you don’t get a howl from the final scene — there are other funny scenes —but that one I can’t ever forget. I laugh just thinking about it. Take a chance. Try it.
Peace unto all of you fine fellows that have taken the interest and the time tyo respond and get me straightened out. But if you try the L&H films mentioned above and like/don’t like them, please write back and get me thinking clearer. Cheers,
I can only assume that Ralph Proodian’s last two comments were jokes, as the ridiculousness of them gave me quite a good laugh.
first of all, i love laurel and hardy. “the music box” makes me laugh until i cry and the phrase “hard boiled eggs and nuts” is indelibly stamped on my brain. however, the title of this thread, i believe, is comedies, not laurel and hardy. the folks here seemed to be making perfectly legitimate comments about comedy films. i would narrow my topic if i were you, ralph. and no one has yet mentioned abbott and costello. “hold that ghost” is a blast.
Dear WITHNAIL; Good news,, I’m glad I too can make you laugh. The repeat of my commentary above was due to a wrong click. I thought the first one was lost so I went through the late night pain of writing the second one. What can I say but, “I’m sorry.” Was there something else in the commentary that was a “hoot?” I’m behind the times at my age and on that terminolgy I need your help.
Seems I’m beaten. I give up. So long you fine fellows. And try to have a good hard laugh each day. It’s therapeutic and in this ugly, tough world, it’s absolutely essential. Cheers to all!!
A Night At the Opera
A Day at the Races
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
How about releasing The Mighty Boosh in the US
How about all you people responding to my original suggestion?? I am guessing, of course, but I suspect none of you have seen any of the best Laurel and Hardy films. If that’s the case, then I can understand why no one has responded to my original proposal. I could never have imagined that so many of you out there would create this arena of non-discussion.
I have seen all those fantastic laurel and hardy movies and many of them would make great additions to the criterion catalog, as would a great many of the Marx brothers films. the stan laurel material available on kino is great too. the arena for non-discussion was established by you, ralph, for not letting us know up front that we weren’t allowed to discuss any comedy but laurel and hardy but instead chastising and berating our lack (you assumed) of knowlegde of laurel, hardy, hal roach, mack Sennett and whoever else you want to throw in there. I am very sorry the conversation didn’t go the way you wanted. next time start a thread entitled laurel and hardy and don’t mention the marx brothers in your own post if you don’t mean to imply that the conversation isn’t open to things other than laurel and hardy. that was your doing. let it go, pal. or, at the very least, start over.
Dear Cole, You, perhaps, did respond to my original suggestion. But look over those other responses: no one even gets remotely near urging Criterion to re-master the L&H films. In fact, I don’t think you did either. I’ve check into films like WITHNAIL and if that’s a comedy, then I must be on another planet. I can’t find a laugh in me to watch drug taking alcohol drinking people stumbling through life as if it hasn’t any meaning. So, Tanto, I really do respect you right to see films you enjoy. My cooments were only intended to further the idea trhat Criterion should give the fullest treatment to L&H. Maybe I’m pushing those two because they remind me of my childhod when I saw them as first-run films on Saturday mornings for an admission price of 10 cents (and somtimes to get us kids into the theaters there’s be a free BABE RUTH candy bar — as big as one’s head — free. We also saw BUCK ROGERS chatyer, MOVIETONE news, DONAL DUCK or MICKEY MOUSE and sometimes with a second full length film. We kids would be in the theater for four hours at a clip. At least we kept out of trouble. One time, watch BABE IN TOYLAND twice (I was in the movie for at least 8 hours, I came out bleary-eyed and it had become dark a NYC police car was parking right in front of the movie. I ask them if they would take me home. And guess what: that’s just what hey did. Great times!!
By the way, none of my remarks have been intended to berate anyone. To be excited about what one is saying isn’t really a put down of the listeners — at least in my case it’s not intended to be. If any one out there feels insulted, to them I wish to apologize sincerely. It just seems like we are all talking to ourselves instead recognizing one another’s presence. Yes, I think the Marx Brothers are good comedians and I like NIGHT AT THE OPERA and THE BIG STORE a lot. Of course there are many other comedians worth our attention, Taiti for one. But I don’t see how Michael Milner’s suggestion about; THE MIGHTY BOOSH (which Amazon describes like this literally:“Howard Moon and Vince Noir are two zookeepers at the Zooniverse. Here they encounter many strange adventures including boxing kangaroos, missing cheese-headed explorers, jazz-funk musicians with doors in their heads and a visit to Monkey Hell.,” has any relevance to L&H or the Marx Brothers, It may well be a classic of its genre and I’m all for translating it into Region 1 format, as Michael wants, and it may well fit into the Criterion list and I would support that project and if it makes the list I’ll even buy it and give it a real try and willingly admit my hunch has been wrong. BUT, what about L&H, Michael?? Peace and cheers to all. Keeping cool is awesome, And Cole, please, when some one speaks openly and honestly without personal insults take it as a compliment, because, after all, they aren’t two-faced or devious, it’s good to stay cool, don’t you agree? Staying cool is truly awesome!!
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by far the best comedy ever made.
Science of Sleep
Laurel And Hardy
Blake Edwards’ The Great Race is one that needs a good dvd with lots of bonus material that i like very much.
i just wanted to annouce that Todd Philips is back with an amazing comedy called “the hangover”.
Big Deal on Madonna Street isn’t just funny, i find it has an eye for composition and use of location worthy of some better known and more serious Italian masters