Sunday, June 28, 2009

Crazy Legs

Running gives you time alone with your thoughts. Want to get past that first mile? Forget you are running at all. Make the legs do the work while the mind flies off somewhere else. That is, I believe, an exercise in Cartesian dualism.

I think that’s Cartesian dualism – sounds right anyway, and sounding right is often right enough, if said fast enough.

Be that as it may, I do know for a fact you should pack your brain with thoughts before you start the run, or you might run out.

I’ve tried carrying along some lofty and profound ideas, but for me, they just don’t have legs. For example: Was Kant right after all? If there is such a thing as Karma, are there mitigating circumstances? Is pragmatism just spiritual laziness? Yes, yes, whatever.

That was good for half a block. The rest of the night I ran on empty.

I need something with real substance. Something profoundly engaging. Something … something like this…

Go ahead, click

Movie comedies. Just thinking about movie comedies will carry me through a whole summer of sweat.

There are only two countries that can make comedies: the US and Great Britain. If you believe otherwise, you’re not going to like my list, you’re not going to like me, and you’re probably here by mistake anyway.

I’m talking all manner of comedy: Satire, broad, black, drawing room. With brilliant dialogue that makes you feel like a comedic genius just by quoting it.

My first cut is unmanageable. How to put some order here. American vs British? Old vs new? Preston Sturgis vs everyone else?

Ok, right off the top, here’s my list. On my next run, I’ll think how to whittle it down.

Life is Sweet (Mike Leigh)
It Happened One Night
Mr and Mrs Smith (Carole Lombard)
The Awful Truth
Raising Arizona
Waiting for Guffman
Best in Show
The Pink Panther
Kind Hearts and Coronets
The Palm Beach Story
Sullivan’s Travels
The Ruling Class
The Lady Eve
Twentieth Century
The Ladykillers (Alec Guinness)
His Girl Friday


  1. Dude, Raising Arizona is on the top of my list too.

    Did you see Hot Fuzz? You might like it.

  2. Good lord, you kept me waiting until - finally, 4th from the bottom - there it was: "The Lady Eve."

  3. Oh is that K, as in:

    "Is he the tall backwards boy always toying with toads and things? Yes, I think I have seen him skulking about."

  4. Some Like it Hot! And most of Billy Wilder. Though he was born in Austria.

    Singing in the Rain
    Monty Python

    Actually, I think French make some pretty good comedies too. And possibly all other nation, except the Germans.

    The problem is that you don't get to see many foreign movies around here, and when you do, they are usually subtitled. Comedies depend so much on timing, punch lines, delivery, that they not only must be dubbed, but the translation must be done by an artist with comedic talent. In Europe you can make a living dubbing foreign movies. The Hungarian version of The Flintstones was funnier (or should I say Funny) and all in rhyme.

    Btw, you left out:

    Singing in the Rain
    Some Like It Hot
    Monty Python

    I listen to audio books when hiking alone, but refuse to run.

  5. That UTube was great. All this time I thought Petrea was our only actress/bloggess. Turns out U2, KB, have an acting background!

  6. Interesting list, KB. I'm pretty sure I have all of Christopher Guest's work. Thanks to the library and the death of VHS I get to see a lot of different kinds of movies. So off the top of my head these also came to mind:

    Italian for Beginners
    Bread and Tulips
    The Princess Bride
    Groundhog Day (Bill Murray)
    My Cousin Vinny

    I'll have to go through the library listings for some of your classics. I'm sure they're referenced by a lot of what I see. My running days are long over, but movie watching, that's lunch.

  7. One, Two, Three just has to be on that list.

    You can come over for movie night anytime, woman.

  8. Oh, haven't your heard yet, KB? Yes, another blog award for you!

    (Why does your PR dept tell everyone but you 1st??)

  9. I've suspected this for some time, now it's official. I'm so bogus! Where I have been for the last decade or more? I know Monty Python, thank God for that. "The Meaning of Life" still makes me howl, but the others??? I'd add to your list but it would just make me look more foolish. Maybe I'll just sit back and read the rest of the comments. Maybe I'll learn something here.

    PS One good thing, you've goaded me into starting my walking routine again. DOn't worry about me in the 95 degree heat. Maybe someone will stumble over my body and call the paramedics!

  10. Ok, it only took 3 miles tonight, but I have my categories: Best dialogue, best absurd comedy, best characters, and best comedy that is true-to-life.

    (I forgot some good ones, like Lost in America)

    You guys have definitely given me some new stuff to watch. Haven't heard of half of them.

    Julie, I have a funny A&OL story, from when I played the girlfriend in high school. I'll tell you some time.

  11. Mm. Is jogging while considering philosophy; Kantering? And is this in any way related to jogging while chanting scriptures (Cantoring)? And that's an excellent list you've put together.

    Also worth considering (from the UK) the Life Of Brian and (from the USA) Airplane.

    "Surely you're not serious!?! I'm very serious. And stop calling me Surely." Etc. Classic stuff.

  12. Kantering and cantoring - funny stuff, Michael.

    I have to add The Big Lebowski to your list of Coen films.

    And I also love Tampopo. I think the Japanese have a wicked sense of humor (but I'm a little prejudice).

  13. @Susan C
    Having a little prejudice is very useful for playing craps.

  14. I can't think of the title of the French film with the young girl who sends the garden trolls around the world.

  15. I agree with Laurie, Amelie is really fabulous.

    OK, off the top of my head in no particular order.

    Being There
    Synecdoche, New York
    Little Miss Sunshine
    The Full Monty
    The Gods Must Be Crazy
    O Brother, Where Art Thou?
    Eating Raoul
    The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
    Something About Mary
    Being John Malkovich

  16. Mid Town G,
    I watched "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" just the other day. Among so many other things, I love seeing Charles Durning dance, made extra funny by knowing he used to make his living as a dancer. I never would have guessed.

  17. I think tying garlic works for you as running works for me, Michael. And I'll have to see Tampopo because that showed up twice.

    I really like Discreet Charm, MTG, but it's more sardonic than a comedy to moi.

    I saw Charles Durning dance in another movie PJ! He was so graceful.

  18. my chiropractor made me give up running for Passover a few years back...a few blown discs in the back will do that for ya. But more power to you if you're out there in this heat.

    I've got to agree with most on your list. But Raising Arizona? Feh, I got that as a free rental at the video store (yes, THAT long ago) and couldn't finish it. I have that problem with some movies---just not my thing.

    Anything by Mel Brooks, most by Christopher Guest---and you'll have me rolling. Monty Python---is what SNL used to be until it started beating a year old dead horse with most of its skits.

    The link to Best in Show...we were in a parade yesterday, riding on a cable car "bus". Several other couples were there. One, we clicked with immediately. Another couple think the worst of WalMart southern shoppers (including a hooting--boo-yahhh), a third---was May-December and they spent too much time trying to justify the things they had in common--but neither had an IQ much over room temp. I could not stop thinking about this clip while listening to them yammer, badly, about how well they fit together. Thanks for giving me something good to remember about the train wreck of people on the bus yesterday!

  19. So many funny movies. I haven't seen the first on your list, AH. Something to look forward to.

    Speaking of Charles Durning dancing, what about Tootsie? Which leads in a logical line directly to: The Graduate. Which, by marriage, leads directly to the Mel Brooks movies, which then takes you to Carl Reiner . . . .

    wv: gledened, as in, this gledened my heart

  20. Kind Hearts and Coronets has been No. 1 on several lists over the years.

    The French do make good comedies. Delicatessen was (a black) one. But Mr. Hulots Holiday and just about anything else by Jacgues Tati are classics.

    I'm a huge fan of the Coen Bros. Inc. but I thought the remaking of The Ladykillers was sacrilege as was casting Steve Martin as Clouseau (whoever was responsible for that) idiotic idea). Naturally I refused to dignify either movie with my attendance.

    I could go on but I've got places to go and people to see. Brazil is my last word on the subject.

    Wait, how come Woody and Mel are nowhere to be found on your list KB? What's up with that?

  21. I didn't come back to shine a spotlight on my misspelling of Jacques or my misplaced ) but I did want to mention that Charles Durning's song and dance number in The Greatest Little Whorehouse In Texas was a standout for me.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. Young Frankenstein
    The Fearless Vampire Killers
    Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
    Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (might not be a comedy, but very funny)
    Take the Money and Run

  24. Running? You run too? Stop being so fit. Also, you must see "Local Hero." From the '80s. Very fabulous.

  25. But what, you guys think I should run to Kansas or something. (Well, perhaps I should) Gotta draw the line somewhere.

    Jean, I liked your one & two degrees of separation. Blazing Saddles should have been on the list -- it definitely has the watchability factor. I know all the jokes and will still tune in if it pops up on TCM.

    Trish, Raising Arizona either hits you in the spot or it doesn't. Hit mine. But Wayne, I don't get Tati at all. But then, I don't Chaplin or Harold Lloyd.

    Woody Allen, yes. I think my favorite is Love and Death. I love the match at the end. And Local Hero, mighty sweet.

    But have any of you seen or even heard of Life Is Sweet? Mike Leigh (brit) movie of the early 90's. A friend and i spent a whole year saying, "Whot? Bullocks!" Which I understand is only funny if you've seen it.

  26. Netflix doesn't have Life Is Sweet. IMDB posted a weird trailer with bad sound. I'll have to go to Videotheque in So. Pas or maybe PennyLane.

    Germans can be funny--
    Baghdad Cafe (German Indy)

    Kabuki Comedy genre:
    Mommy Dearest

    Hilarious films starring men that remind me of my ex-husband genre:

    Any movie about Robinhood is funny, especially if it stars Kevin Costner.

    Tom Cruise is comic genius in Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.

    Christian Bale is a laugh riot in the new Terminator movie.

    Speaking of new movies, I recommend seeing Away We Go even tho it is intentionally funny and very quotable.

    Quotable factor is very high in Woody's Bullets Over Broadway.

    I don't own many DVDs but I do have Office Space, Napoleon Dynamite, and the Complete Set of Marx Brothers--and a Burns & Allen, WC Fields all time favorite comedy: International House (1933)

    I could go on all day but I may become "unhing" (wv)

  27. Imo, Woody's Stardust Memories is very funny because it is Woody doing Fellini.

  28. Young Frankenstein had me crying from laughing too hard. Blazing Saddles. I think you all have the rest covered.

    I don't know that I could judge a comedy in a language other than my own.

  29. Well far be it for me to agree with Wayne, but Mel Brooks is my absolute fav. ( Does anyone but moi remember the 1,000 Year Old Man? ) Petrea, Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein still make me cry from laughing!!

    Wait.... I said I'd shut up and listen. Well, I didn't as usual. Quelle surprise!

    KB, I'm thinking Steve Martin ( can't remember the movie) and "shit from shinola " right?????? Fitting for my post today.

  30. Altadenahiker: Tieing garlic satisfies the part of me that likes to strangle vegetables! One day I'm hoping that I'll be reintroduced into the community. Until then: Tie! Tie! Tie!

    Re: Tampopo, here's a show that I like (sorry not a this might disqualify me) called "サイレント図書館 silentotoshiokan - silent library

    It's pretty much self explanatory; the idea being that whatever happens everyone must keep quiet.

    Very funny :)

  31. After Net-Flicking a lot of the comedy here I have a years worth of laughter waiting. Thank you all.

    AH, after Net-Flicking your list (a lot I didn't know,) and considering your post on Cooper (personally I like McQueen better) I'm totally convinced your an incurable romantic (and by no stretch of the imagination do I mean that as criticism.)

    The only thing I'd debate is Fargo.
    Yes I loved it, and I laughed a lot too. But I also saw it with a friend from Minnesota who perhaps jaded me a bit because his comment was something like "that's how it is in small town Minnesota". It was to realistic and believable for him. Violence, deadpan and all. So it all comes down to perspective. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is no less satiric then Fargo considering that the Coen brothers are from Minnesota, and that The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie has been considered Bunuel poking fun at himself (which makes it even funnier.)

    It's been a long time since I've seen either film, so I just might rent them both again for the fun of it.

  32. PS. I recommend Tampopo too.

  33. Ok, you're right. I'll concede on the Discreet/Fargo argument.

    But you have to get the Westerner. Then we'll talk McQueen v Coop. Coop can be equally cool, you just haven't seen the right movies.

  34. "We both like soup" - love that clip. I have to do the mind/body separation thing to keep running. Podcasts (This American Life) have kept me going.

  35. I'm in awe how you got from running to funny movies. Could you just see that as a writing assignment and the student's going - she wants us to connect running and movies??
    I don't know but a few. I'll have to make it my summer watching program. My list is more in line with PJ's...except with the addition of 'Guildenstern and Rosencratz are Dead' - is that a comedy, can't be since everyone dies in the end.

  36. Does Harold and Maude fall into this category? maybe you need an i-pod.

  37. Ah ha! Proves the point that the French made at least one hilarious film!

    Thank you, Laurie.

  38. hey, how come when I finally sign up for the god damn netflix JUST to watch the Westerner, I can't watch it instantly and on the queue it has "Very long wait." Why don't they just burn another?

    And Tampopo doesn't even have a DVD -- they call it "unknown."

    I'm instantly disenchanted.

  39. running related to funny movies;
    and the girl says she can't write renku. I can't wait for you to break away from the pack.

  40. I forgot about Gods Must be Crazy. That is excellent.
    Amelie was very sad.

    PS - I didn't know that a sunflower is 100s of little flowers. Makes sense since there are 100s of little seeds. (I must sound a lot smarter than I am. :D)

  41. AH---we have friends who work at NF...they're doing it JUST to mess with you.

    There have been some interesting outages of the internet up here (that no one is talking about except insiders to the networks running the cable)...I suspect you're running into one of those. Patience, they are working on it. Try again later?

    my wv? weemene (I thought it was spelt women, but what do I know?;-)