Jay Burns - Contributing Writer
Between January 1st of 1970 and December 31st of 1979, existed a decade of amazing comedy. Some of the classics of movie comedy history; Annie Hall (1977), Blazing Saddles (1974), and The Jerk (1979) to name a few, were born of this decade.
Sure the 80’s added boobs and bush to our comedy and the 90’s added swearing and sarcasm, but the 70’s will always be the high water mark for great film comedy. In that vein I have been tasked with creating a list of what I think today’s comedy movies are painfully lacking…
10. It’s OK to have more than one Comedian in a movie.
The 1979 film The Villain had Ruth Buzzi, Foster Brooks, Paul Lynde three phenomenal comedians in their own right (by the way if you only know them from the Dean Martin Roast commercials you are missing out) all playing secondary characters to Kirk Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger. High Anxiety, Mel Brooks’ 1977 spoof of the Hitchcock movies had Ron Carey, Cloris Leachman, Howard Morris, and Harvey Korman! Don’t even get me started about It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)
9. War can be kind of funny.
Well maybe not so much funny as superior satire. Whether it’s Jerry Lewis as a rich playboy who wants to help his country, Which Way to the Front? (1970) or Donald Sutherland as a doctor who bucks authority at every turn in M*A*S*H (1970) or John Belushi’s Wild Bill Kelso laying down the friendly fire in 1941 (1979); comedy has always been a tool to help us truly see the atrocities of war.
8. Classic Filth
Flesh Gordon (1974) Fritz the Cat (1972) Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) more penis and unshaven vagina than you can shake a stick at… wait, that was an unfortunate idiom to use.
4. Four Words: Smokey and the Bandit.
Burt Reynolds raced that Pontiac Trans Am to being the fourth highest grossing film in 1977, and never looked over his left shoulder!
Clint Eastwood plus an orangutan equal’s comedy gold! Don’t believe me just watch the 1978 masterpiece; yeah I said it, Every Which Way But Loose. Hell even 70’s TV knew the power of the chimp and made Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp (1970-1971) also a personal favorite.
And I will punch you in the nards if you mention Ed (1996).
2. The Counter Culture on Film
Cars, Clothes, Hookers, Drugs, and Transvestites. America in the 70’s was an age of personal discovery. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) gave a generation, and frankly a many after the movie’s release, the chance to see that wearing fish nets is not just for walking corners. That they could not just dream it, but be it.
1978’s Up in Smoke gave Cheech and Chong their feature film debut, and gave us more spliffs, boners and doobies than our munchies could handle. It was here burn-out culture began to show its face on film.
1. Mel Brooks
His last movie was in 1995, but Mel Brooks was king (and wasn't it good) of comedy in the 70’s. His greatest accomplishments, Twelve Chairs (1970), Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974), Silent Movie (1976), and High Anxiety (1977) all being releases in the 70’s. Making us laugh, fart and changing comedy forever; modern comedies just don’t have the gravitas Brooks brought to the screen. If it were just these five movies Mel Brooks had created we would still be pretending to sing “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
So, Pumpkins, what do you think? What about modern comedy could the 70’s never have?
Jay Burns will be joining the Corner on 2/05 in the studio with Bruce Botelho Jr. and Mike Holmes