1960s' screwball comedy movies
There apperared many so-called screwball comedy movies in 1960s. Basically,
these movies don't seem to have been valued so highly by the reason they are essentially superficial and therefore
negligible. But, this is slightly pointless. Because being superficial is one of the purposes of screwball comedy
movies. Though this sounds too obvious to say, they are essentially intended for being light-weighted and hilarious,
therefore being superficial is inevitable result of being a acrewball comedy. Apparent as it might sound, nevertheless
we have a tendency to ignore whatever are considered to be non-serious and trivial. Furthermore, to make matters
more complicated, the word "serious" mingles two different aspects together in one word; that is, an
objective description with regard to the characteristic of something, which usually doesn't involve value related
issues, and declaration of the results of some subjective assessment process, which certainly involves value related
issues, for, after all, value concerns very subjective evaluation. Thus, when someone says non-serious movies shouldn't
be taken seriously, he must be very careful about the fact, between the two occurrences of the word "serious"
in this sentence, implications are quite different. In the first occurrence "non-serious movies", it's
being used in the meaning of the former aspect (an objective description ...), while, in the second one, it's being
used in the meaning of the latter aspect (declaration of ...). Actually, should we suppose those two occurrences
of the word "serious" meant the same meaning, saying non-serious movies shouldn't be taken seriously
would be utterly redundant and mean nothing. But, as we are prone to make this kind of confusions frequently, applying
one word that have multiple connotations to more than one of different occurrences that certainly have different
implications to pretend what is being said be endorsed by the definition of the term used itself, which, if we
thought carefully, would surely suggest, if true, it would be nothing but redundancy. Hence, it becomes clear that,
when evaluating these movies, we surely need to clarify the criteria by which a given movie is evaluated.
Then, what should be the criteria? Though there might be many answers to it,
I would like to put it in this way; that is, to be a good movie, it requires a kind of matrix or, metaphorically
saying, a kind of seed, the application of which to the audience's mind might form some new way of viewing the
world surrounding him. For example, when we watched some movie and felt exhilarating even after finished watching
it, that would mean our inner state had been altered, being guided and molded by the matrix the movie had provided.
The value of a given movie should be evaluated according to the degree of this power it has; that is, the power
to change audience's mind by giving them a certain matrix that can work as a guidance to attain a certain new mind
state. In this respect, what is depicted in a given movie; i.e. the contents, becomes secondary, for non-serious
contents can convey the important message, as long as it can impact receivers. In other words, what is expressed
which usually concerns audience, as well as authors, who must recreate it by participating in the same process
of expressing something as authors did is quite different from what is depicted which only concerns authors' side.
By this reason, we shouldn't ignore those screwball comedy movies just as deserving no attention.
Furthermore, I would like to add the next thing. I am even considering comedies
are three-dimensional while serious dramas are rather two-dimensional. Because being funny requires a view point
from which things are to be viewed objectively, and it's very important for the persons who want to create funny
scenes to know in what level a given statement should be told, for funny lines are usually created by the statements
that can work in different statement levels, and can create very ambiguous and double-folded meanings. This mechanism
is very dynamic in that we will never feel funny for it unless we place ourselves in the situation they are being
formed. In other words, it isn't such a process like accurately interpreting whatever depicted in a given scene.
Therefore, meaning is not so important, but style is. How uniquely and stylishly formed, this is another important
criterion for evaluating those screwball comedy movies.
Upon having said that, I am going to pick up two 1960s' screwball comedy movies
that I think are the most fun and funny ones among them. I surely guarantee you will feel exhilarating while and
after you watch these movies, and they certainly have their own styles and uniqueness. But, of course, as I haven't
watched all of those 1960s' screwball comedy movies, there might be funnier one. In that case, I will add it in
this review as soon as I have found it. Incidentally, one of my most favorite movies of all time, Man's Favorite
Sport? might be able to be classified in this category. But, as I wrote about this movie as a separate review,
if you like, please see the review.
Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell
Dir: Melvin Frank
Str: Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lawford, Telly Savalas, Lee Grant
First one is Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell. The movie has Gina Lollobrigida
as a cheerful Italian woman who swindles three American ex-soldiers out of their money for 30 years. One day, they
visits the village where La Lollo lives, as members of an American army delegation. But, this is unfortunate for
her, because she has been having each one of them think he is the father of a beautiful daughter to swindle every
each one of them out of money as the expenses for bringing up. To make matters even worse, the daughter comes back
to the village to see her father. Therefore, La Lollo must behave as tactfully as possible so that no one knows
the fact. But, of course, as the movie is a comedy, things don't work conveniently. Thus, afterward, several funny
For me as a Japanese, there are several Italian actresses with whom I feel
are very difficult to sympathize such as Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren, as I said in another review. But, Gina Lollobrigida,
probably along with Claudia Cardinale seems to be the exception for it. Though she isn't, of course, a downright
comedienne, here we can verify her comedic talent. To tell the truth, I don't like the comedy movies in which she
appears with Rock Hudson. Because, in those movies, as main focus is placed on Rock Hudson, we can't savor her
comedic sense so much, for her cheerful Italian characteristics aren't fully developed. Besides, they are not so
good movies either. But, in Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell, all scenes being set up in some tiny Italian village
that has extremely bucolic atmosphere, she seems to be quite confortable in stretching her characteristics to the
fullest. Despite the fact she is neither deliverately making funny performances, nor delivering blatantly funny
lines, nevertheless she is funny, which seems to be suggesting her natural talent as an excellent comedianne. Furthermore,
other players which include Telly Savalas, Peter Lawford, Phil Silvers, Shelley Winters, and Lee Grant are also
good and funny. Especially, the scene where three American ex-soldiers run about all over the village in confusion
manipulated by La Lollo would give everybody a real kick. And, the fact all they are afraid of their own wives,
and they must conceal their intentions tactfully makes the situation more humorous. In this way, this movie has
many funny moments. And, as they are not the result of downright slapstick performances, the movie looks very natural
and likable and healty. Therefore, this movie is definitely for all the members of your family including children.
Finally, I would like to say the scores composed by the Italian genius Riz Ortolani are also hilarious and superb.
Sex and the Single Girl
Dir: Richard Quine
Str: Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Henry Fonda, Lauren Bacall
Though Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell doesn't rely heavily upon slapstick
performances, Sex and the Single Girl shows several slapstick scenes. This movie is typically one of such
kind of movies we can watch without thinking anything. But, as I said in the preface, it doesn't necessarily mean
the movie isn't worth watching, for it has full of quirky style. All lead characters are very unique, and the interactions
among these players are definitely fun to watch. Besides, the gorgeous casting of this movie is not the one we
are expecting for this kind of movies. Tony Curtis plays a person who claims himself to be the dirtiest reporter
in the magazine publisher who, in turn, boast themselves of being the filthiest publisher all over the world. They
publish an article concerning a 23 years old psychotherapist Helen Gurley Brawn (played by charming Natalie Wood)
who wrote a book titled "Sex and the Single Girl". As Helen Gurley Brown is a real person (chief editor
of Cosmopolitan, or something like that), I sometimes wonder to what extent the story is based upon this real person.
But, probably that isn't an important issue at all. Anyway, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood seem to be playing their
respective roles really in pleasure. But, funnier than them is Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall who are playing a
always bickering married couple and live next to Tony Curtis's house. It's truely delightful to watch these two
eminent American stars play comedy roles. And quirky Mel Ferror who plays a colleague of Natalie Wood. He confesses
to Wood he has become a psychotherapist, because he wants to hear dirty stories. Anyway, Tony Curtis wants to publish
more dirty stories about Natalie Wood. Therefore, he tries to contact with her by disguising himself as a married
man who has troubles with his wedlock (actually in Henry Fonda's place) to gain information about her. Thus, their
comedic relationship starts with Natalie Wood falsely taking Tony Curtis's identity by his disguise.
As I think story is not so important in this kind of movies, I am not going
to explain the story any further. I can just say "please watch it and enjoy it". Though there are many
funny moments in this movie, highlight comes in the last part where each main character rides on either one of
four cars to chase someone else, and they frequently change the car they are on to such an extent finally who chases
whom is not so sure at one glance. This rather blatant and unnatural slapstick sequence is nevertheless fun to
watch. Also, in this movie, Count Basie and his orchestra appear as themselves, and play several tunes. This scene
is truely entertaining, though I am not so sure why all of the players in this scene are weeping. There are other
several elements by which the movie has succeeded in avoiding winding up in just another silly slapstick comedy.
But, main strength of this movie is, as I said before, characters. Tony Curtis is always amiable even if he plays
the durtiest person all over the world. Natalie Wood is strikingly charming. Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall are
really funny in this movie unleashed from their usual serious roles. Mel Ferrer is queer. And crazy policeman Larry
Storch and Count Basie and his orchestra. With all these ingredient, this movie is really recommendable in spite
of the rather silly title.
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