Duck Soup (1933)

One year before It Happened One Night shifted the gaze of the 1930s comedy towards romance, creating a genre that would shape American cinema for decades and decades to come, a group of writers and performers were capitalizing on the screwball comedy in its purest form, full of wit and satire and slapstick.  Speed of delivery, incoherence of plot, and satirical approaches to class and politics became the hallmark of what this blog has called (in the “My Take On…Comedy” chapter) the “anecdotal” comedy.  This subgenre of comedy (made up for this blog) is the sister genre to screwball, taking slapstick to new extremes while approaching its storyline with an anecdotal approach; what resulted from such an approach was a film that played out more as a compilation of sketches than a story in the conventional sense.  While this type of comedy would survive into the 1940s with the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, and W.C. Fields (and would continue beyond the 40s in gimmicky novelty films like Airplane! and the Monty Python movies), the ultimate anecdotal-screwball comedy was released in 1933.  It was the crème de la crème of all the Marx Brothers films—the most funny, the most political, the most daring, the most memorable—Duck Soup. Continue reading

“There’s Nothing Good on Netflix”…or is there?

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Before I continue with my series of essays on Citizen Kane (i.e. the best movie I’ve ever seen, and probably will ever see), I must respect the wishes of a few people who have made a special request.  I always play requests, even if that means I delay whatever plans I may have had for a post or a page.  That is, I will always play requests until that time that this blog actually gains a real following and I won’t be able to keep up with the demand.  But, until that time, bring ’em on. Continue reading

The Gold Rush (1927)

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I have decided that as long as I am here, I will stay here and enjoy it.

For me, after all, Charlie Chaplin is like Paris.  He’s that thing you’ve always heard of and can recognize in a heartbeat even if you’ve never really seen it for yourself.  He’s the one who’s always been there; not a single person alive today knows of a time when he wasn’t.  He’s the icon that transcends just one country; he belongs a little bit to everyone.  Amid a Hollywood full of Chicagos and Houstons, Chaplin is the La Ville-Lumière, the City of Love and Lights.  It is only fitting, therefore, that he made such urban films.  With that being said, his personal favorite film, and the one which is most universally praised, is The Gold Rush: his most rural. Continue reading

Modern Times (1936)

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My blog, at least on the surface, is directed by reason and ruled by rationale.  While I sometimes stray from the formula (see my occasional dabblings in annual Academy Awards season, etc.), I attempt to methodically determine what is the next best thing to post in conjunction with what has already been posted and what I would like to post in the near- and distant-future.  In this regard, the option for my next film review is obvious: I’ve done three Hitchcock films and three Coppola films (Vertigo, Notorious, Psycho, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and The Conversation) and only two silent films (The General and Battleship Potemkin).  It is time, therefore, for a silent film. Continue reading

The General (1927)

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I hope I timed this well.  I stated in my review of The Godfather that certain movies are better than others for the novice movie-watcher in order to springboard into the finer world of film.  I said that Hitchcock films, Coppola films, and silent films all fit that regulatory bill.  Other films are also fitting, but for consistency’s sake, and for structure’s sake, I stated those three categories.  I intend to keep to my aforementioned schedule so as to not confuse anyone, and also so I don’t have to backtrack and edit old comments due to my own lack of foresight.   We have a Hitchcock movie and a Coppola movie under our belt already.  Now, it’s time for a silent film. Continue reading