Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mae West: Selected

Reviewing their picks for "The Top 100+ Funniest Movies of All Time," the Reader's Digest selected a sexy MAE WEST motion picture as number six.
• • Correspondent Stefan Kanfer asked: What's your all-time favorite funny movie? Having trouble picking just one? So did we! So we narrowed the field down to the top 100+ side-splitters of all time. Please stay tuned for the upcoming results.
• • Number 1: THE GOLD RUSH (1925) By common agreement (including Charlie's), this is Chaplin's greatest silent film. Alternating between heads-on slapstick and poetic mime, the famous Little Tramp pans for nuggets in Alaska — — and winds up broke. In a classic scene, he and his customary foil, Big Jim (Mack Swain), get so hungry that Charlie cooks a boot for dinner, carving it like a steak, then delicately twirls the shoelaces around his fork pasta-style. Chaplin's comic techniques were to set the standard for the next 50 years.
• • Number 2: THE FRESHMAN (1925) The third of the great silent film trio (the other two were Chaplin and Keaton), Harold Lloyd did all his own stunts, many of them dangerous, with skill and humor. Here he's a frosh trying to ingratiate himself with fellow students.
• • Number 3: THE GENERAL (1927) Celebrated as the Great Stone Face because he so rarely cracked a smile, Buster Keaton is remembered as an adroit stunt man and knockabout comedian. But he was far more than that, as demonstrated by this extraordinary silent comedy of the Civil War. As a train engineer who recaptures some hijacked rolling stock, Keaton is audacious, poetic and explosively amusing. As the film's director, he scintillates.
• • Number 4: DUCK SOUP (1933) Perhaps the purest film farce ever made. Directed con brio by Leo McCarey, the film offers no love story or subplots, just Harpo, Chico and Groucho Marx at their manic peak. En route to a slam-bang finale they satirize war and the country's leading politicians. (Groucho: "It's too late to [prevent a war]. I just paid a month's rent on the battlefield.")
• • Number 5: DINNER AT EIGHT (1933) The "talkies" grew up with this adaptation of a Broadway hit by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Under George Cukor's canny direction John and Lionel Barrymore, sex goddess Jean Harlow, and comedians Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery enliven the sophisticated dialogue, revolving around the lives of financial predators, actors on the rocks, hatcheck girls on the way up and millionaires on the way down, all set against the background of a glittering Manhattan dinner party.
• • Number 6: SHE DONE HIM WRONG (1933) Mae West became something of a joke in later life, but as her films prove, she was one of the best comedy writers in 1930s Hollywood. Here, she plays a Gay Nineties saloon singer in trouble with the law — — impersonated by Cary Grant in an early role. "When a woman goes wrong, the men go right after her." "Why don't you come up and see me sometime?" The great lines are here, and Mae wrote 'em all. Lowell Sherman directed unobtrusively.
• • Also included in the "Top Ten" were: SONS OF THE DESERT (1933) with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; THE THIN MAN (1934) co-starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Dashiell Hammett's married sleuths, Nick and Nora Charles — — and their dog Asta; IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) featuring a cynical newspaperman (Clark Gable) and a pampered heiress (Claudette Colbert) who meet cute on an overcrowded bus headed from Miami to New York; MY MAN GODFREY (1936) a screwball farce starring Carole Lombard as a temperamental heiress who hires a down-at-the-heels bum (William Powell), ably directed by Gregory La Cava.
— — Source: — —
• • Article: The Top 100+ Funniest Movies of All Time
• • Byline: Stefan Kanfer
• • Published in: Reader's Digest — —
• • Come up and see Mae every day online:
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• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •
Mae West.

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