The Old-Fashioned Way

Two giants slugging it out.

The fat man and the tiny tyke square off in one of the great comedy scenes of all time, the highlight of an otherwise mostly-forgotten film.

W.C. Fields, doing double-takes and exasperated reactions like no one else could, stares down Baby LeRoy, a two-year-old titan of terror capable of stealing most scenes out from under his co-stars.

Locked in battle at the dinner table, they one-up each other until Fields delivers the coup de grâce with arguably the best kick ever captured on the silver screen.

A chef’s kiss to everyone involved.

 

A Day at the Races

“I’ll get it in a minute, won’t I?”

Shysters and con men have a merry old time in this first-rate Marx brothers film, which centers around hijinks at a sanitarium and the race track.

Groucho, playing Dr. Quackenbush, is a fast-talking, side-eye-giving delight, especially in the scene where he drives a rival bonkers over the phone.

Using an electric fan to simulate a hurricane, he keeps the guy on the other end of the line bouncing back and forth between being frustrated and royally ticked off, and it’s a master class in well-timed comedy.

Just like the entire film.

 

The Black Swan (1942)

Big, bold, and bright.

While the photo above is in black and white, the film itself, one of the better swashbucklers from Hollywood’s golden age, won the Oscar for Best Cinematography (Color), back when the Academy still gave out two awards.

Taking home the little golden man was Leon Shamroy, who copped 18 nominations and four wins in a career which lasted 40+ years.

In front of the camera is the ever-dashing Tyrone Power and the transcendent Maureen O’Hara, as a roguish, frequently bare-chested sorta-former pirate and a spunky noblewoman, respectively.

They set off sparks, which shower us in their glory.

 

Sherlock, Jr.

A landmark in every way.

Buster Keaton, my pick for the best silent film comedian, knocks it out of the park with this rom-com, which accomplished unheard-of technical achievements.

Operating at the dawn of motion pictures, “The Great Stone Face” didn’t have CGI, instead creating his often-mesmerizing effects through hard work, camera tricks, and putting his own safety into question.

Keaton broke his neck during a stunt here, then endured horrifying headaches, not finding out the full extent of his injury for NINE YEARS.

You can endure sitting in a recliner for 45 minutes to appreciate this masterpiece.

Just sayin’.

 

The Bank Dick

The master of double-takes.

W.C. Fields built a successful career by blending verbal and physical comedy — a pompous blowhard who would then get his comeuppance to the audience’s delight.

Here, he’s hard-drinking family man Egbert Sousé, fond of stealing money from his young daughter’s piggy bank, replacing the cash with IOUs.

Stumbling into two separate jobs, one as a movie director and another as a bank detective, he still spends much of his time drinking down at the Black Pussy Cat Café, which gives him plenty of time to get up to shenanigans.

Would we have it any other way?