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A Companion to Film Comedy

  • ID: 3327933
  • Book
  • 584 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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From the very dawn of the era of moving pictures, filmmakers from Hollywood to Hong Kong have been playing it for laughs. Yet despite comedy’s levity as a form, the legendary French auteur François Truffaut called it ‘by far the most difficult genre, the one that demands the most work, the most talent, and also the most humility’.

This wide–ranging celebration of the variety and complexity of international film comedy covers work from the days of silent movies to the present, and from around the world, including Europe, the Middle East and Asia as well as the United States. These specially commissioned essays map the myriad ways that comic films have reflected and influenced history, culture, politics, and social institutions. As well as engaging with different strands of comedy such as slapstick, romantic, satirical and ironic, the Companion tackles mixed comic genres, individual performers and directors, and broader topics including gender and social–political issues in comedy. Each subject is placed in its formative social, cultural and political context, while the multidisciplinary international contributors ensure a depth and breadth of perspective.

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Notes on Editors and Contributors ix

Comic Introduction: “Make ’em Laugh, make ’em Laugh!” 1

Part I Comedy Before Sound, and the Slapstick Tradition

1 The Mark of the Ridiculous and Silent Celluloid: Some Trends in American and European Film Comedy from 1894 to 1929 15Frank Scheide

2 Pie Queens and Virtuous Vamps: The FunnyWomen of the Silent Screen 39Kristen Anderson Wagner

3 “Sound Came Along and OutWent the Pies”: The American Slapstick Short and the Coming of Sound 61Rob King

Part II Comic Performers in the Sound Era

4 Mutinies Wednesdays and Saturdays: Carnivalesque Comedy and the Marx Brothers 87Frank Krutnik

5 Jacques Tati and Comedic Performance 111Kevin W. Sweeney

6 Woody Allen: Charlie Chaplin of New Hollywood 130David R. Shumway

7 Mel Brooks, Vulgar Modernism, and Comic Remediation 151Henry Jenkins

Part III New Perspectives on Romantic Comedy and Masculinity

8 Humor and Erotic Utopia: The Intimate Scenarios of Romantic Comedy 175Celestino Deleyto

9 Taking Romantic Comedy Seriously in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and Before Sunset (2004) 196Leger Grindon

10 The View from the Man Cave: Comedy in the Contemporary “Homme–com” Cycle 217Tamar Jeffers McDonald

11 The Reproduction of Mothering: Masculinity, Adoption, and Identity in Flirting with Disaster 236Lucy Fischer

Part IV Topical Comedy, Irony, and Humour Noir

12 It’s Good to be the King: Hollywood’s Mythical Monarchies, Troubled Republics, and Crazy Kingdoms 251Charles Morrow

13 No Escaping the Depression: Utopian Comedy and the Aesthetics of Escapism in Frank Capra’s You Can’t Take it with You (1938) 273William Paul

14 The Totalitarian Comedy of Lubitsch’s To Be or Not To Be 293Maria DiBattista

15 Dark Comedy from Dr. Strangelove to the Dude 315Mark Eaton

Part V Comic Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity

16 Black Film Comedy as Vital Edge: A Reassessment of the Genre 343Catherine A. John

17 Winking Like a One–Eyed Ford: American Indian Film Comedies on the Hilarity of Poverty 365Joshua B. Nelson

18 Ethnic Humor in American Film: The Greek Americans 387Dan Georgakas

Part VI International Comedy

19 Alexander Mackendrick: Dreams, Nightmares, and Myths in Ealing Comedy 409Claire Mortimer

20 Tragicomic Transformations: Gender, Humor, and the Plastic Body in Two Korean Comedies 432Jane Park

21 Comedy “Italian Style” and I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street, 1958) 454Roberta Di Carmine

22 “Laughter that Encounters a Void?”: Humor, Loss, and the Possibility for Politics in Recent Palestinian Cinema 474Najat Rahman

Part VII Comic Animation

23 Laughter is Ten Times More Powerful than a Scream: The Case of Animated Comedy 497Paul Wells

24 Theatrical Cartoon Comedy: From Animated Portmanteau to the Risus Purus 521Suzanne Buchan

Index 545

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Andrew Horton is the Jeanne H. Smith Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of Oklahoma, USA. An award–winning screenwriter, he is also the author of twnty–eight books on film, screenwriting and cultural studies, includingScreenwriting for a Global Market (2004),Writing the Character–Centered Screenplay (2nd edition, 2000), andThe Films of Theo Angelopoulos (2nd edition, 1999). His screenplays include Brad Pitt’s first feature film,The Dark Side of the Sun (1988), and the award–winningSomething in Between (1983), directed by Srdjan Karanovic. He has led screenwriting workshops around the world as well as across the United States.

Joanna E. Rapf is Professor of English and Film & Media Studies at the University of Oklahoma, USA. She writes regularly about film comedy, with recent essays on Woody Allen, Jerry Lewis, Roscoe Arbuckle, Harry Langdon, and Marie Dressler, and has edited books on a range of subjects including Sidney Lumet, On the Waterfront, and Buster Keaton.

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