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The End of Summer Classics
by Karma Waltonen

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September 1st has always been a sad time. Not necessarily because of school—for most of my life, school started again a few weeks before the 1st—now it starts a few weeks after. No, the beginning of fall distresses me because it marks the end of Turner Classic Movies's Summer Under the Stars.

Each summer, they ramp up their schedule somehow, to honor the Oscar winners, the classics, and the stars. For the entire month of August, for example, they feature a different star every day—want to see an entire day of Walter Matthau, Maureen O'Hara, or Paul Newman? They'll let you. I won't watch a whole twenty-four hours, necessarily, but I'm
summer fun at the pool

summer fun at the pool
up for a good marathon.

American Movie Classics used to be a favorite, too, but some years ago, they started showing commercials and implying that movies from my childhood are "classics," which makes me feel old. Now they're really only good for their original programming, but not so much for "the classics."

I've never understood people who won't watch classics—some people refuse to watch anything that's black and white (when they were kids, did they refuse to watch portions of THE WIZARD OF OZ?)—some people say that older movies are too slow. I think there are slow and fast movies of all times, and if you don't have the capacity
male hitchhikers should try this too

male hitchhikers should try this too
to watch a scene without a cut that lasts longer than thirty seconds, then we could watch very few things together.

If you're willing to try out some fast-moving oldies, here are my recommendations for ten classic comedies to see before you die:

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart)

SOME LIKE IT HOT (Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis)

THE ODD COUPLE (Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon)

BRINGING UP BABY (Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant)


MODERN TIMES (Charlie Chaplin)

THE APARTMENT (Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine).

how can you have summer without this image?

how can you have summer without this image?

HIS GIRL FRIDAY (Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell)

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable)

Any list like this feels too short—where are THE MALTESE FALCON, which is surprisingly funny, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, PAT AND MIKE, THE THIN MAN, INDISCREET, HOW TO STEAL A MILLION, THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, DR. STRANGELOVE, PILLOW TALK, and works by the likes of Buster Keaton?

They're on TCM and on Netflix.

I'm going to go clean out the DVR—I've got many, many hours of Lauren Bacall and Peter O'Toole films, thanks to those hot, August days.

But before I go, I'll throw this out to the crowd—what classic movie comedy would you recommend?

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Mike Thomas
Sep 1, 2010 12:25 PM
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I'm a sucker for any Marx Brothers movie, and ABBOTT and COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. What can I say? i love physical comedy.

Sep 2, 2010 10:04 PM
[X] delete
I'd add a comedy from Ealing Studios. I've been a fan for years, but these masterpieces of understated comedy from Britain's 1950's active film board were just singled out during the recommendations segment on the Slate Culture Gabfest podcast. I was glad that they received the attention.

My favorite -- perhaps because I'm in marketing -- is the satire on class and commerce called "The Man In The White Suit." The film specifically recommended by the podcast was "Kind Hearts and Coronets." Both starred the amazingly understated Alec Guinness.

Sep 4, 2010 12:01 AM
[comment deleted by Brandon]

Sep 5, 2010 12:06 AM
[X] delete
Is 1971 "classic"? Because HAROLD AND MAUDE is a must-see for anyone, young or old, who's never seen or who needs to see it again.

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Comedies with Dr. Karma
Every other Wednesday

Dr. Karma discusses all things comic, from the classics to what may become classics. Laugh with, but not at, her, please.

Other Columns
Other columns by Karma Waltonen:

Goodbye -- Dr. Karma

The Dictator and Dark Shadows

Pirates and Whedon Movies: In Theatres Now!

A Touch of Cult

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All Columns

Karma Waltonen
Dr. Karma is a silly, nerdy know-it-all, but in a good way. She brings all her overeducation to discuss that which truly matters: comedy. As some famous guy once said: “And if I laugh at any mortal thing, ‘tis that I may not weep.” Or something like that.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Karma Waltonen by clicking here.

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