Comedy · War

Peter Sellers presents: The Cold War

In the early 1960s, filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was wrestling with a screenplay about an accidental nuclear strike. He was resisting the urge to turn it into a comedy. His screenplay was an adaptation of the 1958 novel Red Alert by Peter George, a grim story about a mentally-unstable general who orders a nuclear strike on Russia. “I… Continue reading Peter Sellers presents: The Cold War


The Charming World of Monsieur Hulot

Did you travel to the French seaside for your vacation this year? No? Sadly, neither did we. However, there is a way to experience a holiday on the French coast without cramped flights and awkwardly-managed security lines. Voilà! Here is Mr Hulot’s Holiday (Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot), a 1953 French comedy about a bumbling man who goes to… Continue reading The Charming World of Monsieur Hulot

Comedy · Horror

The Old Dark House Sucker Punch

It’s always fun and games until someone loses an eye. That’s the lesson of The Old Dark House (1932), a comedy-horror flick about – you guessed it – a group of people stranded in an old dark house. The film opens on a Dark And Stormy Night as an English couple drives through a severe rainstorm and series… Continue reading The Old Dark House Sucker Punch

Comedy · Musical

The Doris Day Guide to Making Movies

Have you ever wanted to be in the movies? Once upon a time, we (as in, yours truly) wondered if we could be an actress. Sadly, our acting career went no further than the role of Concerned Citizen in a public service announcement. But in the comedy It’s a Great Feeling (1949), Doris Day plays… Continue reading The Doris Day Guide to Making Movies


Francis the Smart-Alec Mule

Here are some Facts About Mules: Mules have greater endurance than horses. Their acute sense of self-preservation is often mistaken for stubbornness. They’re very smart. Why are we learning about mules today? Because we just screened the legendary comedy Francis the Talking Mule (1950). We’re not sure why this film is legendary, because Francis the… Continue reading Francis the Smart-Alec Mule

Comedy · Musical

Guilty Pleasure: Elvis in Spinout

One of our newest guilty pleasures is the 1966 Elvis Presley comedy, Spinout. Now, as is usually the case with guilty pleasures, there are several reasons why you should not watch this film, namely: A non-progressive view of women A flimsy plot Presley’s, uh, “minimalist” acting style In Spinout, Presley plays a race-car-driving musician who is… Continue reading Guilty Pleasure: Elvis in Spinout


Dorothy Lamour: Closet Smart Alec

It must have been tricky business to be the leading lady in a Bob Hope movie. We can assume there were Rules: You must be glamorous. Bob gets the funny lines. Keep eye-rolling to a minimum. Hope starred with some beautiful and talented actresses, such as Virginia Mayo, Paulette Goddard, and Hedy Lamarr. But his most frequent co-star was Dorothy… Continue reading Dorothy Lamour: Closet Smart Alec


Buster Keaton: Last Action Hero

Buster Keaton fights crime in a movie inside a movie. Image: Walker Art Center In the summer of 1993, Columbia Pictures released a big-budget film about a boy who is transported inside a movie to help the hero fight crime. The movie was Last Action Hero, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was an $85 million failure. Other directors have tried… Continue reading Buster Keaton: Last Action Hero

Comedy · Musical

James Cagney’s Mass-Produced Theatre

Modern movie audiences are getting ripped off. Get this: In cinema’s earlier days, audiences were presented with live musical performances, known as prologues, before the feature film. So, instead of the in-theatre advertising we endure today, audiences enjoyed genuine musical theatre that introduced the film. According to Vaudeville Old & New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America, Vol. I, prologues were meant to… Continue reading James Cagney’s Mass-Produced Theatre

Comedy · Musical

The Rococo Lucille Ball in Louis XV’s Court

Confession: We (as in, yours truly) have a biased view of movies set in France. In our eyes, these movies can do no wrong. This is because we went to Paris in our impressionable youth and came home all très sophistiqué. We wore a bemused expression to match our jaunty silk scarf, and we took to drinking lattés from a bowl.… Continue reading The Rococo Lucille Ball in Louis XV’s Court