Attaboy, Luther!: Don Knotts in THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN (Universal 1966)


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When the conversation turns to great screen comedians, Don Knotts doesn’t get a lot of respect among the cognescenti. Talk to his loyal fandom, including celebrities like Jim Carrey and John Waters, and you’ll hear a different tune. They all agree – Knotts was a talented and funny comic actor, the quintessential Everyman buffeted about by the cruelties of fate who eventually triumphs against the odds. Following his Emmy-winning five-year run as Deputy Barney Fife on THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW , Knotts signed a movie contract with Universal, and his first feature for the studio was the perfect vehicle for his peculiar talents: a scare comedy titled THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN.

Knotts plays Luther Heggs, a meek typesetter for his local newspaper in the small town of Rachel, Kansas. He’s also somewhat of the town laughing-stock, bullied by the paper’s ace reporter Ollie, his rival for the affections…

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Kung-Foolery: Jackie Chan in DRUNKEN MASTER (Seasonal Film Corp. 1978)


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Jackie Chan’s  combination of slapstick comedy and kung-fu action helped make him a worldwide superstar, and DRUNKEN MASTER put him over the top as a cinematic force to be reckoned with. While I’m no expert on the genre, I’ve seen my fare share, and I can tell you this movie’s more than a few belts above because of Chan’s natural charm and comic timing.

As per usual with these films, the plot’s thinner as a Chow Mein noodle, which is okay because who needs a plot when you’ve got Jackie Chan? The dubbed version I saw casts Jackie as Freddie Wong, a rascally scamp whose father runs a kung-fu school. Pop tries to break the spirited Freddie without success, so he sends for Great-Uncle So Hi, a tough old buzzard with a fondness for saki (hence the title!). So Hi drives Freddie so hard with his grueling training the youngster…

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Brute Farce: Wilder & Pryor Go STIR CRAZY (Columbia 1980)


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Gene Wilder  and Richard Pryor weren’t really a comedy team at all, just two incredibly funny comic actors who happened to work well together.  Both were stars in their own right, first appearing together in the 1976 comedy-thriller SILVER STREAK, with Pryor in the pivotal supporting role as a thief who aides the in-danger Wilder. Audiences loved the chemistry between the two, and of course Hollywood took notice. STIR CRAZY is not a sequel, but a funny film of its own allowing Gene and Richard to be their loveably loony selves.

New Yorkers Skip Donahue (Wilder) and Harry Monroe (Pryor) are a couple of buds who’ve both lost their jobs. Playwright Skip’s a dreamer, while aspiring actor Harry’s a realist, but somehow Skip talks his pal into leaving The Big Apple to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood. Their cross-country trek ends when Harry’s decrepit Dodge van breaks down in…

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Hooray for Harold Lloyd!: MOVIE CRAZY (Paramount 1932)


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Harold Lloyd  made a smooth transition from silent films to talkies beginning with 1929’s WELCOME DANGER. Unlike Charlie Chaplin (who stubbornly clung to making silents until 1940), and Buster Keaton (whose MGM contract took away much of his artistic freedom), Lloyd retained both his comic visual style while integrating verbal gags in the new medium and kept control of the pictures he made. And while his popularity had begun to wane by the 1930’s, Harold Lloyd’s early talkies are definitely worth watching – because they’re flat-out funny! Case in point: 1932’s MOVIE CRAZY.

MOVIE CRAZY is one of those “Hollywood-behind-the-scenes” stories you know I love so much, so it automatically scored cool points with me! Kansas farm boy Harold Hall lives with his parents and daydreams of being a movie star. One day, he sends his picture and a letter to Planet Films exec O’Brien – only the inept Harold…

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Campus Kooks: The Ritz Brothers in LIFE BEGINS IN COLLEGE (20th Century Fox 1937)


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I haven’t posted anything on The Ritz Brothers since January of 2016 , so when TCM aired a trio of their films this weekend, I chose to review what I consider their best solo effort, 1937’s LIFE BEGINS IN COLLEGE. This was their first name-above-the-title movie, and features Harry, Jimmy, and Al at their zaniest, with the added bonus of comedienne Joan Davis as a kooky coed with her sights on Native American football hero Nat Pendleton.

Collegiate musical comedies were a popular sub-genre in the 30’s: COLLEGE HUMOR, PIGSKIN PARADE, COLLEGE SWING, COLLEGE HOLIDAY, et al, so it seemed the perfect milieu for the Ritzes to showcase their peculiar brand of nuttiness. The story is typical campus corniness, as George “Little Black Cloud” Black arrives at Lombardy College (crashing his motorcycle for an entrance) wanting to join the football team, and immediately developing a rivalry with football team captain…

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Anime You Should Be Watching: Asobi Asobase


Greetings all, as the supposed resident anime expert here at TSL, I’ve let a lot slip through the cracks due to crazy amounts of laziness, and let’s face it, a certain amount of sobriety.  Was I not drunk enough?  Was I too drunk?  We’ll leave that up to your imagination.  What shouldn’t be left in the realm of uncertainty is how great Asobi Asobase is.

To start with, this show looks like your standard, boring, slice of life that any anime fan worth their salt has seen a million times, right?  Oh, that’s just what these devious devils want you to think!  In fact, if you watch the opening sequence, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to think.

I’ll admit, I don’t know very much Japanese.  Just enough to get me into, and sometimes out of trouble.  But from what I can tell, that OP is nothing but innocence and typical SOL sugary goodness.  So you go into this anime expecting that, and somewhere in the first episode, like 10 minutes in, you’re in for a rude awakening.  Sure, this starts off as all sweet, sugary high school life of “Oh hey, let’s start an after school club!” But it quickly forgets whatever premise it ever had and completely devolves into “Let’s make these girls as effed up as we possibly can!”  I’d tell you the premise of this anime, but it seriously has no premise.  It’s hilarity done strictly for the sake of hilarity.  You’d still like some kind of starting point you say?  Ok, here’s the premise they initially start us with.  Hanako is a bored rich girl who wants to form a club to play games.  Kasumi is a girl who is terrible at English, whose sister always beat the crap out of her at games without mercy and has a complex about that.  Olivia is a girl who looks like a foreigner (something strange and mysterious to Japanese apparently) yet was born and raised in Japan and doesn’t know a lick of English.  Kasumi joins the club because she expects Olivia to tutor her in English.  Olivia joins because she thinks she can fool Kasumi, and also because she thinks Hanako is an idiot and likes making fun of her.  Hanako turns out to be the smartest member of the club.  Absolutely none of that matters past episode 2.  Hanako is borderline genius, Olivia gets exposed, Kasumi, well she’s got a lot more going on that just being poor at English.

As we watch further into the show, we get hit with full on craziness. How crazy could it be might you ask?  Well, one of the more normal segments revolves around Hanako’s butler? Maeda revealing that prior to joining her household he was a homeless man who was abducted by aliens and anal probed with a laser device inserted into him.  Yes, he shoots lasers out of his ass.  And it’s viewed as totally normal.

And I did say that was one of the tamer scenes, yes?  I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with you one of my favorite scenes I’ve seen so far.  If you need some sort of setup, I guess I’ll give it to you.  Essentially the girls are forced to sneak into the office of the student council president by someone who may or may not be a guy pretending to be a girl (totally is, no question about it) and they have to steal a certain file that contains information that this guy would rather not get out into the open, even though most of it is about the three girls in question.  Anyways, this is the penultimate scene.

This is the kind of humor you’re in for with this show.  If you didn’t find that hilarious, then this show isn’t for you.  I’m not judging (I’m totally judging) but that’s OK.

Finally, I gotta say, the ending theme to this is probably the best ED I’ve ever seen in an anime.  Ever.  But definitely for this season.  First off, I’ll share with you the ending theme that we get to see after each episode.

Totally different theme from the OP, right?  I think it’s great how they go from a sugary sweet opening theme to this total metalcore ending.  Gives the right balance between what you expect from the description, and what you actually get from the show.  I should mention that both the OP and ED are sung by the main three girls on the show.  Also, I really want to share with you all the full version of that song since I feel they really do a fantastic job of it.

To me, the amazing part is that none of the three main actresses, Hina Kino (Hanako), Konomi Kohara (Kasumi), Rika Nagae (Olivia) have ever really starred as the main voices in any show prior to this, yet they really come across to me as veterans in the industry.  Just the way they interact with each other and totally own their roles is something you’d only expect from long time veterans.  These are girls that I think we’ll be hearing a lot from the in the future in the anime business.

This offering from Rin Suzukawa is easily the best comedy I’ve ever had to recommend on this site.

Ultimately, this is a show that is much greater than anything anyone could say about it.  Comedy is super subjective, but if you don’t find this funny at least 80% of the time, it’s time to  play some Operation and have your funny bone checked.

Confessions of a TV Addict #10: Neil Simons’ Greatest Hit THE ODD COUPLE Will Endure


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When Neil Simon passed away this weekend at age 91, the world lost one of the 20th Century’s greatest comedy minds. Simon got his start writing for radio along with brother Danny Simon, and the pair soon moved into the then-new medium of television, hired by producer Max Leibman for the staff of YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS starring Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, and Howard Morris. This seminal variety show ran from 1950-54 and featured the talented comedy minds of writers Mel Brooks , Selma Diamond, Mel Tolkin, and Reiner on its staff. The Simons siblings moved to Caesar’s next venture CAESAR’S HOUR (1954-56) along with most of the writing staff, joined by newcomers Larry Gelbart and Aaron Ruben .

The Simons joined the staff of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW (1955-59) for its final season, chronicling the escapades of con artist Sgt. Bilko. During this time, Neil began working…

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