From the coming of sound to the end of the Second World War, British film comedy altered little, as it relied on music-hall and radio stars playing variations on their well-honed personas. Peacetime’s social upheavals, however, prompted new brands of screen comedy and a new breed of comicactors.
In the vanguard was Ealing Studios, which slipped a dash of subversion into the string of whimsical classics it produced into the mid-1950s, shifting the emphasis away from patter and shtick towards polish andstructure.
In emulating Ealing’s more literary style, the likes of Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat and twins John and Roy Boulting started reflecting the societal conflicts sparked by class, age, gender and nationality. These themes coalesced in Charles Crichton’s The Battle of the Sexes, which entered cinemas as the new decade dawned. Newly released on Blu-ray and DVD, this workplace comedy gave star billing to Peter Sellers, who played a vital role in steering comedy in the new directions it would take in the swinging60s.
Sellers was fresh from 250 episodes of The Goon Show, the radio sketch show that profoundly influenced such 60s series as Do Not Adjust Your Set and At Last the 1948 Show – both, in turn, precursors of Monty Python’s FlyingCircus.
Topicality meant that this satire boom was better suited to TV, which witnessed a sitcom golden age during the 1960s. But, as established stars like Norman Wisdom began to fade and TV favourites like Tony Hancock and Morecambe and Wise struggled to make the transition to cinema, film comedy recalibrated in the middle of thedecade.
Now, social realism and surrealism began to shatter bourgeois taboos with a greater freedom than was possible on the smallscreen…
School for Scoundrels or How to Win without Actually Cheating(1960)
How much more amusing might this watershed comedy have been had director Robert Hamer remained sober long enough to complete it? Instead, he was fired and the remaining scenes were divvied between producer Hal E. Chester and an uncredited Cyril Frankel. It was Chester who had acquired the rights to Stephen Potter’s parodic 1947 self-help book Gamesmanship, asking Peter Ustinov and Frank Tarloff to devise ascript.
Working anonymously, they appear to have concocted the conceit of sending Henry Palfrey (Ian Carmichael) to the School of Lifemanship run by Dr Potter (Alastair Sim) after his efforts to court April Smith (Janette Scott) have been thwarted by Raymond Delauney (Terry-Thomas). Carmichael had come to epitomise the middle-class clot in several 1950s comedies. But, by besting a bounder (“hard cheese”), he struck a blow against the establishment and sounded the starting gun for a decade of unprecedented socio-culturalchange.
The League of Gentlemen(1960)
This all-star adaptation of John Boland’s heist novel is the missing link between Ealing caper The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and that acme of swinging 60s cool, The Italian Job (1969). It was produced at the same time as the original Ocean’s 11, but there’s no Rat Pack aura pervading the band of disgraced mercenaries who are recruited for a military-style bank raid. Their ringleader is former major Jack Hawkins, who’s seeking payback for the nation forgetting the debt owed to its wartimeheroes.
Cary Grant had turned down the role, which enabled Hawkins to remind the audience of his past uniformed exploits. But the misogynist reprobates under his command aren’t worthy of sympathy, and it’s this astute blend of the social realism that had characterised director Basil Dearden’s 1950s problem pictures and the immaculate comic timing that he had acquired during his wartime collaboration with Will Hay that makes this much more than a laddishlark.
Echoing some of the digs at the French art scene found in the MGM musical Funny Face (1957), Tony Hancock’s second feature allowed him to develop the character he had created on radio and television in Hancock’s Half-Hour (1954-60). Writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson had mocked pretension before in the 1959 radio episode ‘The Poetry Society’, and it’s amusing to watch Hancock’s office drone assume airs and graces when he goes to Paris and is mistaken for agenius.
Although he liked to hog the limelight, Hancock was at his best when he had a foil, and the standout scene in The Rebel sees him trading insults with his landlady (the peerless Irene Handl) when she takes offence at his monstrous sculpture, ‘Aphrodite at the Waterhole’. Sadly, Hancock rejected Galton and Simpson’s follow-up script, The Day Off, and settled for supporting roles after the cool reception accorded The Punch and Judy Man(1963).
Having collaborated on A Kind of Loving (1962), director John Schlesinger and writers Willis Hall and Keith Waterhouse reunited for this social realist lampoon inspired by the latter’s deceptively serious novel. Reprising the role he had taken in the West End, Tom Courtenay plays twice-engaged undertaker’s assistant Billy Fisher as an angsty young man, whose frustration with his mundane existence in an grim Yorkshire town is outweighed only by his fear of the uncertainties lurking along the escape route provided by a gag-writing gig inLondon.
James Thurber’s story ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ clearly influences Billy’s fantastical reveries in Ambrosia. Yet despite these absurdist set-pieces and the stinging wit of the dialogue, Schlesinger’s film has incisive things to say about gender and generational relationships, as well as the changing north’s sense of exclusion. That these issues are still pertinent half a century later is dismaying. But the harsh truth is that most of us wouldn’t have caught thattrain.
Eyebrows were raised when the doyen of social realism, Tony Richardson, announced that he was going to adapt Henry Fielding’s 1749 novel about a foundling who seemed destined for the gallows. But Richardson saw this picaresque saga as a way of commenting on the contemporary scene, and resumed his partnership with Look Back in Anger playwright John Osborne. His approach, however, owed more to French New Wave flamboyance than kitchen sink starkness, as he employed a range of self-reflexive gambits and breaches of the fourth wall to debunk both costume drama convention and the Britishestablishment.
Following an unhappy shoot, blighted by Albert Finney’s sulking and Hugh Griffith’s drinking, Richardson expected the film to flop. But, ignoring the lukewarm reviews, audiences warmed to Tom’s rascality, and set-pieces like the deer hunt and the bawdy mealtime flirtation between Finney and Joyce Redman resulted in surprise box-office success. Four Oscar wins followed, including bestpicture.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb(1964)
Among the myths surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s glorious adaptation of Peter George’s avowedly non-hilarious novel, Red Alert, is that studio executives decided to cut the climactic custard pie fight because a splattered president would appear dubious in taste so soon after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Switching between Burpelson Air Force Base and Ken Adam’s magnificently designed War Room, the action of this Swiftian satire was strewn with enough hard fact and terrifying plausibility to have had Cold War audiences ducking andcovering.
An ankle injury forced Peter Sellers to let Slim Pickens ride the missile inscribed ‘Hi There’, but he still earned an Oscar nomination for his tripartite performance as Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and the eponymous boffin, whose Germanic accent was inspired by the photographer Weegee. The ensemble playing is equally outstanding, as Kubrick and co-scenarist Terry Southern indulge in sniggering sexual innuendo to marvel at a world gonemad.
Carry On Cleo(1964)
The tenth in the 31-strong cycle of Carry On films marked a decisive shift away from the workplace comedies pioneered by Norman Hudis towards the Talbot Rothwell-scripted movie spoofs that dominated the 1960s. Not one to miss a main chance and save a few quid into the bargain, producer Peter Rogers seized upon the costumes, props and sets left at Pinewood when Cleopatra (1963) decamped to Cinecittà in order to lampoon the Roman epics that Hollywood had produced to showcase its widescreentechnologies.
Never again would director Gerald Thomas have such lavish production values at his disposal, and the sense of occasion seemed to inspire series regulars like Kenneth Williams and Sid James, who were impeccably cast as Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. They were nearly upstaged by Cabby alumna Amanda Barrie, who banishes all thought of Elizabeth Taylor with her delightfully ditzy display as the Egyptian queen unable to tell her asp from herelbow.
The Knack …and How to Get It(1965)
Following his Oscar-nominated comic sketch short The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1959), American Richard Lester became a keystone of British screen comedy in the 1960s. Coming between Beatle assignments A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965), this adaptation of Ann Jellicoe’s Royal Court play landed in his lap after Lindsay Anderson turned it down. Such was the modishness of both the observations on the nascent sexual revolution and the French New Wave-inspired visuals that the picture scooped the Palme d’Or atCannes.
The account of jazz drummer Ray Brooks’s efforts to teach timid teacher Michael Crawford how to seduce northern newcomer Rita Tushingham is markedly less PC than similar items like Georgy Girl (1966) and Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1967). But the breathless exuberance of Lester’s dazzling blend of quips, slapstick and self-reflexivity makes this the most candid comic snapshot of itstime.
Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment(1966)
David Mercer wrote two BBC plays about his mental health struggles, with In Two Winds directed by Ken Loach for both TV (in 1967) and cinema (as Family Life in 1971). Karel Reisz originally filmed Mercer’s A Suitable Case for Treatment for TV in 1962, and later planned to include his adaptation in the Woodfall anthology, Red, White and Zero (1967). But Mercer’s ideas about psychiatry had changed so drastically after discovering the work of R.D. Laing that Reisz decided instead to remake it as a feature, the idea being to assess the impact on artist Morgan Delt (David Warner) of being raised by a communist mother (Irene Handl) and discarded by his social-climbing wife, Leonie (VanessaRedgrave).
Released contemporaneously with Time magazine’s ‘London: The Swinging City’ cover, this subversively anarchic feature became identified with the zeitgeist. But Reisz claimed it was a comedy “about serious things” and its social surrealism helped radicalise British cinema by giving it permission to shout unpalatable truths from the rooftops about class, sex, nature andalienation.
There was something quaintly traditional about the way in which Peter Cook and Dudley Moore reached the big screen. They followed live performance (Beyond the Fringe, 1960-64) with a broadcast series (Not Only…But Also, 1964-70) before debuting as grasping cousins in the Robert Louis Stevenson romp The Wrong Box(1966).
However, there was nothing remotely old school about their cutting-edge brand of sketch comedy, which combined satire and absurdism with innovatively insurgent glee. Cook was the single most significant figure in British comedy in the 1960s, and ideas fizz in an insouciantly scattershot manner throughout this Faust update, which centres on Wimpy chef Stanley Moon (Moore) selling his soul to the satanic George Spiggott (Cook) in return for seven chances to profess his love for waitress Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron). Doing his best Dick Lester impression, Hollywood stalwart Stanley Donen directs with a modish musicality that treats Cook’s dialogue like a Cole Porterlyric.
Buy The Battle of the Sexes on Blu-ray and DVD
10 great British comedy films of the 1960s? ›
- The Battle of the Sexes (1960)
- School for Scoundrels (1960)
- The League of Gentlemen (1960)
- The Rebel (1961)
- Billy Liar (1963)
- Tom Jones (1963)
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
- Carry On Cleo (1964)
|1||2022||Minions: The Rise of Gru|
|2||2011||The Hangover Part II|
|4||2004||Meet the Fockers|
Ealing StudiosWho is the best movie comedian? ›
- 100. Meet the Parents (2000) Film. ...
- Mean Girls (2004) Film. Comedy. ...
- Hot Fuzz (2007) Film. Action and adventure. ...
- The Trip (2011) Film. Comedy. ...
- Safety Last! (1923) Film. ...
- Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) Film. Comedy. ...
- Local Hero (1983) Film. ...
- The Philadelphia Story (1940) Film.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Year: 1975. ...
- Monty Python's Life of Brian. Year: 1979. ...
- Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Year: 2004. ...
- Mean Girls. Year: 2004. ...
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Year: 1986. ...
- The Mitchells vs. The Machines. ...
- She's Gotta Have It. ...
- When Harry Met Sally.
As it is, Hue and Cry (1947) is largely considered the first of the “Ealing Comedies,” finishing with either Barnacle Bill or Davy, both released in 1957. The films chided the idiosyncrasies of English institutions.What was filmed at Ealing Studios? ›
These classics include Whisky Galore!, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Ladykillers, The Titfield Thunderbolt, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Man in the White Suit. Balcon ran the Studios until 1955, when the BBC bought Ealing and based its Film Department here.Are Ealing comedies on Netflix? ›
Watch The Ealing Comedy Collection: A Run for Your Money | Netflix.What comedian has made the most movies? ›
Who is the best actor in the world? ›
While Leonardo tops the Best Actor in the world list for Google, coming a close second to him on the list is Tom Hanks. The 66-year-old actor has had a splendid Hollywood career with films such as Forrest Gump, Cast Away and several other notable works to his name.What comedy movies are out? ›
|Best Comedy Movies|
|1 Bullet Train imdb: 7.5 R||2 Minions: The Rise of Gru imdb: 6.7 PG|
|4 American Carnage imdb: 5.0 R||5 Mrs Harris Goes to Paris imdb: 7.2 PG|
|7 The Phantom of the Open imdb: 7.2 PG-13||8 Vengeance imdb: 7.3 R|
|10 Bodies Bodies Bodies imdb: 6.3 R||11 The Munsters imdb: NA PG|
- 8 Mile. Watch on Netflix.
- Bonnie and Clyde. Watch on Netflix.
- Boogie Nights. Watch on Netflix.
- The Bridges of Madison County. Watch on Netflix.
- Eyes Wide Shut. Watch on Netflix.
- If Beale Street Could Talk. Watch on Netflix.
- Nightcrawler. Watch on Netflix.
- Phantom Thread. Watch on Netflix.
|#||Films (English)||Weeks in Top 10|
|2||Look Both Ways||2|
|3||The Next 365 Days||2|
- Pluto TV. Pluto TV is one of the most popular names among the best free comedy movie sites of 2021. ...
- Crackle. We have already mentioned Crackle in our best movie download sites article, and it's still a great application for movies. ...
- Popcornflix. ...
- Tubi. ...
- IMDb TV. ...
- Peacock. ...
- Vudu. ...
- Leave it to Geege. ...
- Abbot Elementary. ...
- Adam Eats the 80s. ...
- The Tinder Swindler. ...
- Inventing Anna. ...
- Our Flag Means Death. ...
- Schitt's Creek (2015) ...
- The Good Place (2016) ...
- Heartstopper (2022) ...
- New Girl (2011) ...
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013) ...
- Dash & Lily (2020) ...
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015) ...
- Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist (2020)
- Kathleen Madigan: Bothering Jesus.
- Monster House.
- Jessica Darling's It List.
- Just In Time.
- No Strings Attached.
- Resort to Love.
The Godfather (1972) was voted number 1 by Entertainment Weekly's readers in 1999 and voted as number 1 in a Time Out readers' poll in 1998. The film was voted the "Greatest Movie of All Time" in September 2008 by 10,000 readers of Empire magazine, 150 people from the movie business, and 50 film critics.What was the number one movie in 1966? ›
What county is Ealing in UK? ›
Historically, Ealing was a rural village in the county of Middlesex. As London expanded in the 20th century, Ealing grew and became part of Greater London in 1965. It is now an important commercial and retail centre with a strong economy.Where were the Ealing comedies filmed? ›
The Ealing comedies is an informal name for a series of comedy films produced by the London-based Ealing Studios during a ten-year period from 1947 to 1957.What is being filmed at Shepperton Studios? ›
Productions are expected to start shooting on the expanded site from 2023, but a number of famous films and shows have already been filmed at the studios. These include Rocketman, The Hustle, 1917, The Old Guard and Downton Abbey.What studio is Downton Abbey filmed? ›
Downton Abbey - Fun Facts
Only the 'upstairs' scenes are filmed at Highclere. The servants' quarters are all filmed at a studio in Ealing. Lord Julian Fellowes actually had Highclere Castle in mind when he wrote the first series.
The BBC based its Film Department at the studios; and at its peak 56 film crews used the studios as a base for location filming of dramas, documentaries and other programmes; shot on 16 mm and occasionally 35 mm film.Who owned Ealing Studios? ›
In a deal reportedly worth seven figures, producer Ben Latham-Jones (Nina) has bought Ealing Studios Entertainment - the production arm of the iconic studio - from Barnaby Thompson and will take over the role of head of studio.Who is considered the queen of comedy? ›
Comedian, who died at age 95, opened doors for female stand-ups.Who is the richest actor comedian? ›
|1||Jerry Seinfeld||$950 Million|
|2||Matt Stone||$700 Million|
|3||Matt Groening||$600 Million|
|4||Trey Parker||$600 Million|
The “Man of a Thousand Voices,” Mel Blanc is regarded as the actor who's racked up the most acting credits — more than 1,200 — voicing Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and many, many more cartoon characters since the 1930s.Who was voted best actor of all time? ›
With an illustrious career spanning over five decades, Brando is easily the greatest actor of the 20th century. He was the most famous student of Stella Adler, from whom he learned the method acting technique proposed by Stanislavski. He was one of the few actors to apply 'The Method' in 1950s Hollywood.
Who is the greatest actress of all time? ›
- Barbara Stanwyck. ...
- Meryl Streep. ...
- Cate Blanchett. Image Source: harpersbazaar.com. ...
- Marion Cotillard. Image Source: IMDb.com. ...
- Penelope Cruz. Image Source: us.hola.com. ...
- Kate Winslet. Image Source: vanityfair.com. ...
- Anna Magnani. Image Source: premiere.fr. ...
- Sophia Loren. Image Source: tcm.com.
- 10 Murder Mystery (2019)
- 9 Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)
- 8 Booksmart (2019)
- 7 Shazam! (2019)
- 6 Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)
- 5 Good Boys (2019)
- 4 Jojo Rabbit (2019)
- 3 Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)
Following the style of teen dramas that came before, Licorice Pizza features enough humor to satisfy cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. The film delivers plenty of jokes courtesy of Paul Thomas Anderson's quirky writing style.
The birthplace of Commedia dell'arte and Roberto Benigni, Italy is the home of comedy, and by a large margin. Comedy films perform about twice as well in Italy as they do in other countries, as a share of the total box office.Which is the highest IMDB rated movie? ›
1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)What is the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time? ›
'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' (2002) – $241 million
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” proved you don't need a massive budget to claim success, as the small independent film tops the list as the highest-grossing rom-com of all time.
Without playing in China or Russia, the blockbuster follow-up to 1986's “Top Gun” has grossed $1.352 billion worldwide to date. It's the 13th-highest grossing movie globally.What are the highest grossing comedy movies of all time? ›
- 1 Home Alone. Hughes Entertainment.
- 2 Meet The Fockers. Universal. ...
- 3 The Hangover. Warner Bros. ...
- 4 The Hangover Part II. The Hangover Part II is the fourth highest-grossing comedy film of all time (domestically)! ...
- 5 Bruce Almighty. SpyGlass Entertainment. ...
- 6 Ghostbusters. ...
- 7 Beverly Hills Cop. ...
- 8 Mrs. ...
Most popular movie genres among adults in the United States as of December 2018.
|Characteristic||Share of respondents|
What is considered the best movie ever made? ›
The Godfather (1972) was voted number 1 by Entertainment Weekly's readers in 1999 and voted as number 1 in a Time Out readers' poll in 1998. The film was voted the "Greatest Movie of All Time" in September 2008 by 10,000 readers of Empire magazine, 150 people from the movie business, and 50 film critics.What movie has a 10 10 rating? ›
1) 'The Shawshank Redemption' (1994)Which movie has the highest Rotten Tomatoes? ›
To date, Leave No Trace holds the site's record, with a rating of 100% and 251 positive reviews.What is the most popular Romcom? ›
- While You Were Sleeping (1995)
- Palm Springs (2020) ...
- About a Boy (2002) Film. ...
- Muriel's Wedding (1994) Film. ...
- It's Complicated (2009) Film. ...
- Boomerang (1992) 'Hey, you're not getting serious on me, are you? ...
- My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) Film. ...
- Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) Film. ...
'Top Gun: Maverick' Filmmakers on Box Office Glory, Oscar Ambitions and Sequel Speculation.
|Tom Cruise* “Top Gun: Maverick”||100M 100M 100M|
Why Was Avatar So Groundbreaking? Avatar was the first of its kind, making extensive use of motion capture, a new technology which captures the features and motions of the subject and transfers that movement to animation, all of which is completely computer-generated.How much did Tom Cruise make for maverick Top Gun? ›
Top Gun: Maverick, Tom Cruise's biggest ever hit, is set to earn the star a reported $100m (£84m) payday. The film that sees Cruise reprise his role as the hotshot naval aviator has now earned nearly $1.2bn (£1bn) at the global box office.