Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A Selection of Great Comedy Films

There are almost too many of these but the following are some of my undoubted favourites: first Jacques Tati's Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (1953) was one of John Le Mesurier's favourite films and is a splendid seaside mime about the hapless M. Hulot but it is so packed with fun that you just don't miss dialogue and the sound effects and the music are superb. Also from 1953 is the film Genevieve, about a vintage car race between two friends in the annual London to Brighton veteran and vintage car run: John Gregson, Dinah Sheridan, Kenneth More, a radiant Kay Kendall and Joyce Grenfell all turn in superb performances. The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), starring Stanley Holloway and Sid James, as well as several real railway employees, is a touching little comedy about a community struggling to save its local railway and, when the fiendish local 'bus company sabotages their train, they wheel out an old engine from the museum and cobble together a makeshift train for the day of inspection...Brothers in Law (1957), stars Terry-Thomas and Ian Carmichael in a classic English comedy about a greenhorn (actually called a 'white wig') barrister and a manipulative crook. Our Man in Havana (1959) stars Alec Guinness, Ralph Richardson and Noel Coward and is a comedic take on the Graham Greene novel of the same name. Carlton-Browne of the FO (1959)is a similar caper, cast headed again by Terry-Thomas, about a British diplomat who gets into a fix. Make Mine Mink (1960) yet again stars Terry-Thomas, with Hattie Jacques and Athene Seyler and a great supporting cast (Irene Handl as Madame Spolinski is an absolute caution): it tells the tale of how a group of apparently respectable, middle-aged house-mates become fur thieves to raise money for charity. School for Scoundrels (1960) stars Alistair Simm, Ian Carmichael and Terry-Thomas in a story from Stephen Potter's One-Upmanship books, of how an underdog can become a winner. Yet another Terry-Thomas vehicle was Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965) about skullduggery in an air race. That Riviera Touch (1966) is Morecambe and Wise at their very best as a pair of English traffic wardens caught up in a complicated criminal conspiracy in the South of France. Barefoot in The Park (1967) already has its own post in this site. Then there is The Italian Job 1969, Michael Caine, Noel Coward and a host of others (not to mention several Mini Coopers), in this famous caper.

I think that the picture for this post has to include Terry-Thomas, a master of English comedy. The still is from Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and he is shown (at his diabolical best), with Eric Sykes.

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