11. The Ladykillers (Alexander Mackendrick, 1955)
It was no surprise that Joel Coen and Ethan Coen chose to remake this film in 2004. It wasn’t Alec Guiness’s buck teeth, which Tom Hanks didn’t imitate. It was rather the dark humour, about a small group of gentlemen bumblingly attempting to rob an old lady. The absurdity made this a winner.
12. Monte Python’s Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)
This one wouldn’t be for the politically correct, about a fellow born on the same day as Jesus Christ. (“I’m not a Roman mum, I’m a kike, a yid, a heebie, a hook-nose, I’m kosher mum, I’m a Red Sea pedestrian, and proud of it!”) Better to keep an open mind, and you will keep on laughing.
13. A Night at the Opera (Sam Wood, 1935)
Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, and Harpo Marx were a ubiquitous trio, never failing to bring misery to anyone they met. (Poor Margaret Dumont, whom Groucho tormented.) Some critics would argue that “Duck Soup” was their best, but the Marx Brothers and Chaplin weren’t cut from the same cloth. The siblings were rather a riotous bunch; as Otis P. Driftwood, Groucho’s character, put it, two’s company, five’s a crowd.
14. Ninotchka (Ernst Lubitsch, 1939)
This picture was a gem, one of those rare instances when Greta Garbo, who made a career playing women who suffered in the name of love, laughed out hard. It happened in one brief scene, which I kept on playing again and again. The screenplay was charming, if not amusing. (“It’s midnight. Look at the clock, one hand has met the other hand, they kiss. Isn’t that wonderful?”)
15. The Odd Couple (Gene Saks, 1968)
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau played Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison respectively, two divorced fellows who were like oil and water. But one couldn’t lived without the other. They collaborated ten times, this one their wackiest. Neil Simon’s screenplay was goofy, but Lemmon and Matthau were so good, they could have given Tracy and Hepburn a run for their money.
16. Raising Arizona (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 1987)
Watching the Coen Brothers flicks was an odd experience, and this one, their second feature, couldn’t be better. A criminal (Nicholas Cage) and policewoman (Holly Hunter) were unable to conceive a child, so they thought of kidnapping one. When the chance came, they stumbled a bit, unable to decide if it was Barry, Garry, Harry, Larry, or Nathan Jr. This was just one of many.
17. Singin’ in the Rain (Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen, 1952)
This was a musical – and a comedy too. It was partly due to Jean Hagen, whose character was like Norma Talmadge. (She provided the laughs, all right.) Like most MGM musicals, everything here looked light and breezy.
18. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
Many fans saw this many times, and never got tired of it. The screenplay by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond was full of zingers. (“I’m Cinderella the second.”) Then there was Marilyn Monroe, who won a Golden Globe for her performance.
19. Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, 1941)
This was about a movie director/screenwriter (Joel McCrea), who learned that his comedies were his more valuable contribution to society. This, after he dressed like a hobo and lived on the road. (He didn’t need paper writing help on this one.) It was a satire, no doubt, with many lines to keep this insightful picture not so serious. (“There’s always a girl in the picture. What’s the matter, don’t you go to the movies?”)
20. Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982)
“I don’t believe in hell. I believe in unemployment, but not hell,” Michael Dorsey quipped. This may be the reason why he dressed up as Dorothy Michaels – and won the hearts of everyone. There was a thin line between farce and reality in this flick, made unforgettable by a winning cast, led by Dustin Hoffman (as Michael and Dorothy). He, alone, was good enough to see this film again. And again.