Monday, February 9, 2015

Three Funny Men

Jackie Gleason, "The Hustler," 1961.
Gleason portrayed veteran pool player Minnesota Fats opposite Paul Newman's upstart Eddie Felson in 1961's "The Hustler."  The role showed Gleason's great dramatic range as an actor. 

Groucho Marx, "A Night at the Opera," 1935.
 In many ways I think "A Night at the Opera" is the best Marx Brothers film.  It lacks some of the insanity and surrealism of their earlier Paramount films, and the musical numbers begin to feel tagged on instead of part of the show.  But the added polish of the MGM production values makes up for it.   Okay, maybe it's a toss up between this one and "Duck Soup."  Anyway, this film has Groucho and Chico discussing the Sanity Clause and the famous Stateroom scene, and if you don't know what I'm talking about you have a movie to go see right now.
Walter Matthau, "The Odd Couple," 1968.
As a native New Yorker (and lifelong Mets fan) I always feel nostalgic watching the original film version of "The Odd Couple."  Neil Simon has such love and sympathy for his characters, and he makes us really feel for their situations.  And New York becomes a character itself in many of his films, especially when we get to go outside with the characters and experience the city the way they do.  I love the scene early in the film when Matthau offers his poker playing buddies a sandwich.  What kind?  "Brown or green."  Very, very funny.

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