I started watching all of these old classic comedies over Christmas. I was watching Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, The Talk of The Town, and His Girl Friday. One thing that I kept thinking while watching these films is that they don't make comedies like this anymore in the present day. Comedies since the 1980's with the introduction of the teen sex comedy genre, have been dumbed down to the point where even 4 years old would not find them funny. The comedies of the 30's and 40's have a structure to them and tell a story with likeable characters that you want to watch and root for. Some of the films such as The Philadelphia Story do have corny lines but I would argue that they are more outdated then corny and only appear corny because of the time.
But the structure and story arc are relevant and quite strong even for this day and age. Bringing Up Baby is my all time favorite screw ball comedy, in my opinion Katherine Hepburn is perfection. During the prison scene you can see her comic timing at work which is sheer perfection. Every comic who wants a lesson in comic timing needs to see Bringing Up Baby.
I think as a society we need ask ourselves how we have gotten to this place in film history. The film industry has changed so much so since the 30's and 40's, but it seems that cash is more important than entertainment. Notice I did not say art, I am not asking for art but a story and characters that can entertain us for an hour and a half or two hours should not be the exception in comic movies but it should be the norm.
Why do we need to go to the bathroom humor and the 4 year old mentality when we are creating a comedy? Some of the most simplistic plots usually are the best films in the end. Bringing Up Baby is very simple, girl meets boy story, girl tries cooky and strange things in order to keep boy near her. That is it but it involved a leopard named Baby and it is one of the more original movies I have ever seen.
The Philadelphia Story has themes of working class VS. upper class which is very relevant in this day and age. But the characters are so well written even Katherine Hepburn's character Tracy Lord is likeable even when she is acting like a goddess on her pillar looking down on the men around her. What I like about the Philadelphia Story is that the characters are flawed and they know they are, during the course of the film they face their flaws and their accept them or deny them.
The character of Tracy's fiancé, George never realizes Tracy's flaws, why because he has the same flaws that she does and when her behavior is found to be acceptable by him she realizes that she judges others so harshly and never allow others to be human. This is a great premise and theme for the film. You might think that this premise is a drama but it is a comedy. It is ok for comedies to have serious overtones. It does not have to be funny every minute of the film.
In fact the serious overtones makes the comedy that much more funny as it unfolds. I think in the present filmmakers are so scared of bring serious in their comedy that it becomes a film of comic moments are strung together rather then having serious overtones that give the characters some depth and let the comedy unfold on its own. Once filmmakers learn how to do this they will be able to create such wonderful comedies and will not only be popular but will have a strong story structure, likeable characters and great themes that can make the film a classic for years to come.
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3 posts • Page 1 of 1
I'm glad you posted your respect about classic comedies. Talking about Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday especially hit home because I'm studying Dramatica in order to write something of that caliber.
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