Recently, a few of my Facebook friends began posting their top 10 funniest movies. One of those friends, actor Eddie Deezen (yes, THE Eddie Deezen from Grease, 1941, and other films), posted an article that he wrote about the classic film Airplane! which has led me to write this blog entry.
To have to pick out just 10 favorites would be next to impossible for me, I have to admit. Maybe if we broke the list up into subcategories like Slapstick Comedy, Screwball Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Vulgar Comedy, etc… I might be able to narrow it down to 10 in each of them, but probably I don’t necessarily want to do that.
A radio program director once told me to be careful with comedy. He said, “Comedy is subjective. What you find funny may not be funny to me and vice versa”. Perhaps this is why some comedies do better at the box office than others. Think about it, how many times has someone come up to you and said, “Oh man! You have got to see (insert movie here)! It was the funniest thing I have ever seen!” ? So you take their advice and about 30 minutes in you are ready to walk out or turn it off. Comedy is subjective.
I am sure there will be more blogs about this topic, but for today, here is a look at two of my favorite ’70’s comedies….
I was 4 years old when Blazing Saddles came out. It was 1974. Times were MUCH different that today. There were things in this movie that you simply could not do today! However, at the time, they were accepted. I don’t know how old I was when I first watched it. I do know that it had a great cast: Harvey Korman, Gene Wilder, Cleavon Little, Madeline Khan, David Huddleston, Slim Pickens, and director Mel Brooks, just to name a few.
One of the reasons this movie is funny to be is the absurdity of so many of the situations. The black sheriff who takes himself hostage, the townspeople who believe it, the grown adult who bathes with his squeaky toy frog, a phony toll booth in the middle of the desert, and of course, the characters crossing the bridge from movie to movie set, and eventually watching their own movie. “Extremes are funny” claimed, Manny Balos, one of my high school teachers. That is exemplified in this movie. How does a pie fight break out in a Western? Are Raisinets really the candy of choice for bad guys?
The one scene that is often talked about most when this film comes is is the campfire scene. Here, a bunch of cowboys are sitting around the fire, eating pork and beans. What follows is a bunch of them breaking wind in a symphony of flatulence. While this is not the first fart joke in a movie, it was certainly the first instance of audible flatulence to hit theaters. The conclusion of this scene contains one of my favorite lines in the film. Upon exiting his tent, Slim Pickens’ character begins to smell the results of the beans and starts waving his hat around to fan the odor away. He is asked if he wants some more beans, and he simply replies “I’d say you had enough!”
Smokey and the Bandit
I will always remember when I saw Smokey and the Bandit. August 16, 1977 – the day Elvis died. I saw it at the drive in and while we waiting for it to get dark enough for the movie to start, we were listening to AM 560 Honey Radio (where I would eventually work) and they broke the news and began playing all Elvis songs.
The Bandit (Burt Reynolds) and Snowman (Jerry Reed) are hired by Big and Little Enos to get 400 cases of Coors beer from Texas and bring it back to Atlanta in 28 hours for some big money. In the 1970s, Coors used to be unavailable east of the Mississippi (something to do with the fact that it wasn’t pasteurized and thus needed constant refrigeration).
Smokey is funnier to me now, than when I was 7. As a kid watching this movie, it was about fast cars, a hero trying to get away from the law, and numerous car crashes. Why is it funny to me now? Two words: Jackie Gleason. He plays Sheriff Buford T. Justice of Texas.
I had the chance to interview Jerry Reed shortly before he passed away and I asked him about this film. He said that without Jackie, there probably would not have been a Smokey and the Bandit. He told me how he was given free reign to stray from the “script” and ad-libbed almost everything. As a matter of fact, the word is that there really wasn’t much of a script anyway. Hal Needham showed Burt Reynolds the script on legal pads and most of the cast’s lines were ad-libs.
With mixing ad-libs with profanity, Jackie Gleason spouts off many of the films funniest lines. One such line that is often quoted by fans is when he is talking to his adult son, Junior (played by Mike Henry) – “There’s no way, no way, that you came from my loins. Soon as I get home, first thing I’m gonna do is punch yo mamma in da mouth!” Another line is when (after the roof of their patrol car is ripped off by driving under a truck) Junior is asked to hold Buford’s hat on his head. By removing his hand from his hat to hold Buford’s, his is blown away. “My hat blew off Daddy” to which Buford replies, “I hope your &^% #$% head was in it!”
What also makes this movie memorable is the soundtrack from Jerry Reed. Who doesn’t know “East Bound and Down”?! The song went to #2 on the charts and has been covered by many bands over the years. Many of today’s country singers will do it in their live sets today. The Legend, which is the song that opens the movie, gives you the back story on the Bandit and just how he became the legend he is today. “How would you like to be the dude who handcuffs a legend?” Snowman asks Bandit when he tells him he is unsure why Buford is chasing him. The Legend is one of those songs that is overlooked in my opinion.
There is one scene in particular that is my favorite, and that is the scene where Buford and Bandit meet face to face. What makes it great is that Buford has no idea that he is talking to the Bandit. Buford quickly walks in and says, “Lemme have a Diablo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper and make it fast, I’m in a %$# #$%^ hurry!” The exchange between the two characters is hilarious. How Burt Reynolds is able to keep a straight face while Jackie Gleason rants with food in his mouth is beyond me!
What is a Diablo Sandwich? Well it depends. Some say is a a pulled pork sandwich while others say it is ground beef. Personally, I have never had the pulled pork version of the sandwich, and have yet to find a recipe for that. I have however had it with beef. To wrap up the blog today – here is the recipe I found online for the Diablo Sandwich. It’s great to eat whether you’re in a hurry or not …
Diablo Sandwich Recipe Ingredients:
- 1 pound of ground beef
- 3/4 cup of diced tomatoes
- 3/4 cup of canned corn
- 3/4 cup of water
- taco seasoning to taste
- sour cream
- hamburger buns
Diablo Sandwich Recipe Directions:
Brown the ground beef. Add remaining ingredients except for lettuce, sour cream and hamburger buns. Let the mixture stew anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour. The longer the better. I cooked it for 40 minutes covered, and then uncovered for the remaining 20 minutes to thicken it up a bit as the liquid burns off. Place the lettuce on a bun, top with the El Diablo beef mixture, and then add a dollop of sour cream.