Far Out in the 70s: A New Wave of Comedy 1969-1979

Far-Out in the 70s: A New Wave of Comedy 1969-1970

I’m freaking out twice over! First because I didn’t notice this mind-blower of a film series at the Film Forum until it had already been open for a week. I get their email blasts but I never pay attention; I really need to get the paper calendars mailed to me again if they still do that. I always love those. But secondly, going over the series, I’m freaking because I should have ALREADY blogged about so many of these movies they’re showing and their directors; if I had done that, I could just link to those posts right now. But I’ve blogged about some of them and will link below. I think my strategy will be to write about most of the rest as the series plays out and link subsequently. I grew up on these comedies; I have a lot to say about them! If nothing else, there’ll be a massive new content stream to come out of this.

Some of the showings, we are sad to say, have already passed; for example, they already showed Animal House and Theatre of Blood earlier this week. If you rush, you can see the Woody Allen comedies Bananas and Sleeper tonight; Sleeper will be shown again on February 12. They’ll also have Play it Again Sam on January 27 and Annie Hall and Manhattan on February 3. Allen’s on my shit-list at the moment, maybe permanently, and the thought of Manhattan particularly turns my stomach, but we make the information available to you.

I should also foreground the information that they’re giving Elaine May special tribute. They’ll be showing Mickey and Nicky (Jan 29), A New Leaf (Jan 29), the Neil Simon-penned The Heartbreak Kid (Jan 31), The Birdcage (Feb 5), Heaven Can Wait (Feb 5), and — God help us — Ishtar (Feb 12). If you run, you can still catch the 86 year old May LIVE on Broadway in Kenneth Lonnergan’s play The Waverly Gallery, which plays through January 27.

Several other comedy auteurs are represented: including Mel Brooks (Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, January 26), Robert Altman (California Split, Feb 1 and MASH and Brewster McCloud, Feb 9), Hal Ashby (Being There, Feb 2 & 13; The Landlord and Shampoo, both Feb 10; and Harold and Maude, Feb 14); Peter Bogdanovich (Paper Moon and What’s Up Doc?, Jan 27 & 28, with the latter reshowing Feb 13); Paul Mazursky (Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, Jan 30 and Harry and Tonto, Feb 8);  Milos Forman (Taking Off, Feb 2 & 12); Mike Nichols (The Fortune, Feb 11); Carl Reiner (Where’s Poppa? Feb 14); Albert Brooks (Real Life, Feb 6); Michael Ritchie (Smile, Feb 7); and Bob Rafelson (Stay Hungry, 1976). And of course Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Jan 26).

Some comedies by directors who weren’t/aren’t comedy auteurs per se include those by Peter Yates (Breaking Away, Feb 2 & 6 and The Hot Rock, Feb 9); Brian de Palma (Hi Mom, Feb 6); and Robert Benton (The Late Show, Feb 8, on a double bill with Harry and Tonto for an Art Carney pairing). Alan Arkin fans will be glad of Little Murders (Jan 31 and Feb 1), and The In-Laws (Feb 13). I especially recommend the former, Jules Feiffer’s prescient disturbing satire about gun violence. Jack Nicholson self directed the interesting and forgotten comedy western Goin’ South’ (Feb 11) featuring John Belushi and Christopher Lloyd. 

Some of the edgier comedies include Rock and Roll High School (Jan 26 & Feb 13); Car Wash (Jan 31); John Waters’ Female Trouble (Jan 30); Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke (Feb 2), Godfrey Cambridge in Watermelon Man (Feb 4), and the original French language version of La Cage Aux Folles (Feb 5). Oh yes, and they’re showing Smokey and the Bandit (Feb 10), which I liked well enough at the time.

There’s almost always one WOW surprise, something I’ve never seen before and have just gotta see. This time it’s something called The Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery, released in 1975. The UNBELIEVABLE cast includes Gabe Dell and Huntz Hall of the East Side Kids/ Bowery Boys; Jackie Coogan; Will Geer; Barbara Harris; Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg); Dick Gautier; Nicholas Colasanto (Coach from Cheers); Vincent Gardenia, Nita Talbot, Joyce Van Patten and others. Do we need others? Director Dean Hargrove will be on hand to introduce the picture.

Tickets and additional info on this impeccably curated screening series here.