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5 Can’t-Miss Classic Comedies to See at This Year’s TCM Film Fest

5 Can’t-Miss Classic Comedies to See at This Year’s TCM Film Fest

Each year, movie fans young and old flock to Hollywood and celebrate the all things classic cinema at the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. This year’s theme, “Make ‘Em Laugh,” explores iconic comedies of the golden era. Over 80 films complete the 2017 line-up, with ranging from dark comedies to full-on slapstick. For those new to the classics, it can be overwhelming trying to decide one’s personal festival viewing schedule, so here are our picks for five classic comedies movie fans should be lining up to see.

Arsenic and Old Lace

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Frank Capra’s 1944 dark comedy Arsenic and Old Lace still holds up today as one of the best in the genre. Leading a stellar cast in this hilarious and over-the-top film from director Capra (who also directed the classic It’s A Wonderful Life), Cary Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, who falls in love with the daughter of the minister next door, Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane). The pair marry, then travel to visit Mortimer’s eccentric but lovable relatives. When Mortimer arrives, he discovers a body hidden in the house… and that his seemingly sweet aunts are actually killing old bachelors who visit them. The movie sounds bleak, but the moments of absurd, silly humor that come out of such dark material are some of the most memorable in comedy history.

The Court Jester

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Sword fights! Adventure! Dancing! Romance! Intrigue! Tongue twisters! Puns! The Court Jester truly has it all. This 1956 musical comedy stars Danny Kaye as Hubert Hawkins, an ex-carnival jester who becomes the minstrel to The Black Fox, a Robin Hood type who rebels against the evil King Roderick. The Black Fox instructs Hawkins to carry the rightful heir to the throne, the infant Prince, to safety. On his journey, he must masquerade as the King’s court jester, but when a sorceress casts a spell on him, things don’t quite go according to plan. We dare you to try and get through the movie’s infamous tongue twister after watching, it’s a doozy.

High Anxiety

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While Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles may be the better known Mel Brooks films, the writer-director’s 1977 parody of Hitchcock thrillers is not to be missed. High Anxiety is packed with references to all the classic films we adore, from The Birds to Vertigo. Brooks does a remarkable job of combining so many well-known plots into an exciting and suspenseful flick. After the film was released, Hitchcock sent Brooks a bottle of wine with a note that read, “A small token of my pleasure, have no anxiety about this.”

The Jerk

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Steve Martin’s first starring role in film also holds up as one of his best. The movie’s premise is quite simple: Martin plays Navin R. Johnson, a bumbling fool whose absurd inventions turn him from rags to riches… then back to rags again. The Jerk features some of the most screwy, surreal scenes in modern comedy. If you’re a fan of clever comedies, you would be hard pressed to find one better than this.

Postcards From the Edge

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We’re aware this 1990 movie might not be considered a “classic film,” but we would be remiss to not include Postcards from the Edge on our list. Based on Carrie Fisher’s memoir of the same name, this dramatic comedy deals with some heavy material with a razor sharp wit. The semi-autobiographical plot revolves around an actress (Meryl Streep) who must move back in with her mother (Shirley MacLaine) as she recovers from substance abuse. Only Carrie Fisher could pen a film of this nature that turns out equal parts poignant, smart, and playful.

The 2017 TCM Film Festival runs April from April 6-9 in Los Angeles, California.

What are your favorite must-see comedy films? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Columbia Pictures. 


Michelle Buchman is the social media manager at Nerdist Industries. She’s also a huge cinephile. Feel free to follow and chat movies with her on Twitter, @michelledeidre.

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