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Three on a Couch (1966) starring Jerry Lewis, Janet Leigh, James Best

Three on a Couch

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Three on a Couch (1966) starring Jerry Lewis, Janet Leigh,  James Best

Three on a Couch is a Jerry Lewis comedy that’s both funny and charming.   The basic plot is that Jerry Lewis’ character, Christopher Pride, is an artist who has won a prestigious French art contest, winning a large monetary prize, as well as the opportunity to live in Paris, France for a year.   He intends to take his fiancee, Dr. Elizabeth Acord (played by Janet Leigh) along so that they can be married.   But there’s a problem.

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The Nutty Professor

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The Nutty Professor (1963) starring Jerry Lewis, Stella Stevens

 The Nutty Professor is Jerry Lewis‘ most famous film, and with good reason.   Unlike many of his comedies, this is more than a thin plot for him to hang slapstick on.   The character of Dr. Julius Kelp is well-rounded and sympathetic. He’s also the traditional klutz that Jerry Lewis portrays so well.   The ultimate nerd, he’s physically humiliated in front of his class.  So, he tries several (very funny) attempts at building himself up, only to fail miserably.   Kelp then turns to his knowledge of science to create a formula to turn himself into the macho he-man that he dreams of being.  All in hopes of earning the affections of Stella Purdy (played very well by Stella Stevens).   The potion works all too well, releasing the suave, self-confident, arrogant and conceited Buddy Love.

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I Married a Witch

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I Married a Witch (1942) starring Fredric March, Veronica Lake, Susan Hayward, Cecil Kellaway

I Married a Witch is a screwball comedy with a magical twist. The men in the Woolsey family are cursed — to marry the wrong woman.  Ever since a pilgrim ancestor was instrumental in burning a father and daughter witch at the stake.  Their evil spirits have been captured in a tree ever since. Until a lightning bolt strikes the tree, and frees them, and they decide to have their revenge on the last of the Woolseys …  But something goes wrong!

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Modern Times

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 Summary of Modern Times,  (1936), starring Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard

Modern Times begins with Charlie Chaplin as Charlie the Little Tramp gainfully employed at a factory. However, the strict regimentation is driving him to the brink … Then over the brink, when the factory owner has him as the “guinea pig” € for a “time-saving” feeding machine. This leads to Charlie spending time in a mental hospital.   Cured after his breakdown. But then he is arrested and jailed when …. He innocently picks up a red flag that has fallen off the back of a truck and runs down the street to return it …. Just when a communist demonstration comes around the corner. He meets Paulette Goddard as ‘€˜The Gamin’ (a street urchin) in the back of the police van. She is arrested for stealing bread. From then on the theme is about the two trying to get along in … modern times

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The Great Dictator

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The Great Dictator, starring Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner, Henry Daniell, Billy Gilbert

The Great Dictator, possibly the most well-known of Charlie Chaplin’s films, was a timely satire on Nazisim and fascism in general, and Adolph Hitler in particular. In it, Charlie Chaplin plays a double role — Adenoid Hynkel, autocratic dictator of Tomania who blames the Jewish people for all of society’s ills, and a Jewish Barber who happens to be the spitting image of Hynkel. Contrary to what some people believe, the Jewish Barber was not Chaplin’s world-famous tramp character, although they clearly share some of the same traits. The film is a true classic, with the famous “dance with the globe” where Hynkel dances with an oversized inflated image of the globe, fantasizing about his eventual conquests. The film ends with the famous “Look Up, Hannah” speech which is, perhaps, both verbose and even hokey, but it fits properly and plays well.

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The Clown

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Movie review of The Clown (1953) starring Red Skelton, Tim Consadine, Jane Greer

Having just watched Red Skelton in the serious drama, The Clown, my first reaction is simply, “wow”.  Although it stars Red Skelton, and deals with a clown/comedian as the central character, The Clown is not a comedy. It is a very serious drama, which left me with a new respect for Red Skelton’s acting ability.

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The Gold Rush

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The Gold Rush, produced & directed by Charlie Chaplin. Starring Charlie Chaplin, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain, Tom Murray

Synopsis of The Gold Rush

 

The Gold Rush is one of Charlie Chaplin’s greatest films. Like all of his films starring the Little Tramp, it is a silent, and demonstrates very well why the silent move is an art form in its’ own right. Modern clowns would do well to learn from a master of the art of pantomime by watching this film — €“ it’s Chaplin at his finest. Chaplin and his crew do an excellent job of telling the story without dialog, and it moves from funny to poignant to sad to touching and back to funny again.
It details the Little Tramp, who has made his way to Alaska for the Gold Rush, trying to make his fortune. Along the way, he partners with a mad-from-hunger gold digger looking for his lost claim (played by Mack Swain, one of Chaplin’s regulars), falls in love with a young lady from a saloon (played by Georgia Hale), gets on the wrong side of a very dangerous outlaw, and finds his way to happily ever after by the end of the film.

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The Circus (1928) starring Charlie Chaplin

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The Circus, produced & directed by Charlie Chaplin. Starring Charlie Chaplin, Merna Kennedy, Al Garcia, Harry Crocker, Henry Bergman

Synopsis of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus:

The Circus is one of the Little Tramp’s most poignant roles, as well as one of  Charlie Chaplin’s funniest silent movies — €” for which he won a special Oscar. It begins with the Tramp attending a small circus that comes to town. He haphazardly bumps into a pickpocket, who hides his ill-gotten goods in the Tramp’s pocket. This soon leads to a marvelous chase, with the police chasing both the pickpocket and the Tramp. At one point the pickpocket and the Tramp are running in parallel …. And the Tramp politely tips his hat to the thief. After a chase through the hall of mirrors (which has to be seen). The Tramp accidentally runs into the circus’ center ring, where he is unintentionally hilarious. The circus owner/ringmaster auditions the Tramp as a new clown. Only to find out that he can’t be funny on purpose — €” only unintentionally.

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City Lights

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In City Lights, Charlie Chaplin plays the part of Charlie the little tramp, a homeless vagabond, who encounters a flower girl, only to discover that she’s blind. After Charlie rescues an inebriated rich man from committing suicide, the eccentric millionaire decides that Charlie is his best friend, and takes him out partying, gives him a car, etc. — only to totally forgot about him when he’s sober.

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