Posted by Paul
This Thursday sees the long-awaited release of Sacha Baron Cohen’s brilliant new film ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’.
Check out our Borat special for the trailer, review and other features.
The film has been warmly received on both sides of the Atlantic, and some critics have gone as far to say that it is one of the funniest films of all time. As our Movies Editor Ed says in his review, Borat is “hilarious”, but it is perhaps too soon to be calling it a comedic masterpiece. So which films are deserving of that title?
Compiling a definitive list of the ten greatest comedies ever is virtually impossible but I’ve put together my personal favourites along with one of the best quotes from each film. Let us know which movies would make it into your top 10.
Airplane! is a spoof of the airport disaster movies that were common in the 70s. When the crew of a plane is struck by some form of virus, the fate of the passengers depends on a former war pilot, who is the only one able to land the plane safely. The passengers represent a selection of bizarre characters who take every word for its literal meaning, with hilarious consequences. The success of Airplane! is largely down to the rapid-fire succession of gags. If you don’t find a particular joke funny, another is waiting in the wings to replace it. Comedy gold.
[as the plane prepares to take off]
Lady: First time?
Ted: No, I’ve been nervous lots of times.
A demented general named Jack D. Ripper orders a fleet of bombers to fly over Russia and attack them with full nuclear weaponry. A British military aide (played brilliantly by Peter Sellers) tries to reason with him, but discovers Ripper is a raving lunatic, obsessed with bodily fluids. Strangelove is probably Stanley Kubrick’s greatest film, which is some accolade indeed. It is one of the most hilarious satires in the history of cinema, that is as relevant today as it was four decades ago.
President Merkin Muffley: Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!
After breaking up with his girlfriend Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), neurotic comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) goes on a stream of consciousness journey through his memories of their relationship, in an attempt to discover what caused them to split up. This is Allen’s quintessential masterpiece littered with devastating one-liners.
[after Annie parks the car]
Alvy Singer: Don’t worry. We can walk to the curb from here.
C.C. "Bud" Baxter (Jack Lemmon) advances his career by making his apartment available to colleagues for their extramarital affairs. His boss finds out and promotes Bud in return for the exclusive use of the place for his own affair. When the boss’s girlfriend turns out to be the girl Bud likes, he is heartbroken, but accepts the arrangement. It’s rare for the Best Oscar to go to a comedy but The Apartment deservedly picked up the gong. The cleverness of Billy Wilder’s sparkling dialogue has aged like a fine wine.
The blonde: Do you mean you bring other dames up here?
Kirkeby: Certainly not! I’m a happily married man.
Life of Brian
The Monty Python team tells the story of Brian, an unwilling prophet who wants to free his land from the oppression of Rome. The Pythons take satirical aim at religion with their unique brand of silly humour. It’s a highly amusing and irreverent parallel to the life of Jesus by the inspired comedy troupe.
Pontius Pilate: Stwike him, Centuwion. Stwike him vewy wuffly!
Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman) is desperate because he is unable to find a job. That is, until he gets a female role in a soap opera and becomes famous. Of course, nobody knows that this new TV star is a man. But, after a while, he falls in love with the leading actress of the series. Tootsie is a rousing comedy that deals with the agonies and ecstasy of being an actor. It’s a romcom of the highest order, with an incredible performance from Hoffman.
A Fish Called Wanda
Wanda and her boyfriend Otto come to London to plot a diamond robbery alongside George and Ken. Wanda and Otto want the stolen diamonds for themselves, so they inform the police about George not realizing that he has already moved the diamonds to another secret place. Wanda decides the best way to find out is by getting close Archie Leach (George’s lawyer). This is a delightful caper movie with John Cleese at his brilliant best, and a career best performance from Kevin Kline.
Otto: It’s K-K-K-Ken c-c-c-coming to k-k-k-kill me.
This Is Spinal Tap
A filmmaker decides to make a documentary about the world’s loudest band, the British heavy metal group Spinal Tap. The movie is a biting satire and spoof of the whole rock and roll scene that passes itself off as a real documentary of a real band. It’s a hilariously scathing indictment of the rock and roll lifestyle. Rob Reiner’s rockumentary is about as funny as parody gets.
David St. Hubbins: It’s such a fine line between stupid, and clever.
College graduate Benjamin Braddock finds himself trapped in an affair with Mrs. Robinson, who happens to be the wife of his father’s business partner. Benjamin then falls in love with their teenage daughter, Elaine. The Graduate is a delightful, satirical comedy-drama.
The Odd Couple
Two friends try sharing an apartment, but their ideas of housekeeping and lifestyles are as different as night and day. It’s one hilarious situation after another in a classic comedy.