Best of Warner Bros.: 20 Film Collection - Comedy [20 Discs] [DVD]

  • SKU: 1602373
  • Release Date: 07/02/2013
  • Rating: R
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Synopsis

The Philadelphia Story
We open on Philadelphia socialite C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) as he's being tossed out of his palatial home by his wife, Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn). Adding insult to injury, Tracy breaks one of C.K.'s precious golf clubs. He gallantly responds by knocking her down on her million-dollar keester. A couple of years after the breakup, Tracy is about to marry George Kittridge (John Howard), a wealthy stuffed shirt whose principal recommendation is that he's not a Philadelphia "mainliner," as C.K. was. Still holding a torch for Tracy, C.K. is galvanized into action when he learns that Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell), the publisher of Spy Magazine, plans to publish an exposé concerning Tracy's philandering father (John Halliday). To keep Kidd from spilling the beans, C.K. agrees to smuggle Spy reporter Macauley Connor (James Stewart) and photographer Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) into the exclusive Lord-Kittridge wedding ceremony. How could C.K. have foreseen that Connor would fall in love with Tracy, thereby nearly lousing up the nuptials? As it turns out, of course, it is C.K. himself who pulls the "louse-up," reclaiming Tracy as his bride. A consistently bright, bubbly, witty delight, The Philadelphia Story could just as well have been titled "The Revenge of Katharine Hepburn." Having been written off as "box-office poison" in 1938, Hepburn returned to Broadway in a vehicle tailor-made for her talents by playwright Philip Barry. That property, of course, was The Philadelphia Story; and when MGM bought the rights to this sure-fire box-office success, it had to take Hepburn along with the package -- and also her veto as to who her producer, director, and co-stars would be. Her strategy paid off: after the film's release, Hepburn was back on top of the Hollywood heap. While she didn't win the Oscar that many thought she richly deserved, the little gold statuette was bestowed upon her co-star Stewart, perhaps as compensation for his non-win for 1939's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Donald Ogden Stewart (no relation to Jimmy) also copped an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. The Philadelphia Story was remade in 1956 with a Cole Porter musical score as High Society. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Goonies
Leonard Maltin wasn't alone when he noticed similarities between Goonies and the 1934 Our Gang comedy Mama's Little Pirate. Adapted by Chris Columbus from a story by Steven Spielberg, the film follows a group of misfit kids (including such second-generation Hollywoodites as Josh Brolin and Sean Astin) as they search for buried treasure in a subterranean cavern. Here they cross the path of lady criminal Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey) and her outlaw brood. Fortunately, the kids manage to befriend Fratelli's hideously deformed (but soft-hearted) son (John Matuszak), who comes to their rescue. The Spielberg influence is most pronounced in the film's prologue and epilogue, when the viewer is advised that the film's real villains are a group of "Evil Land Developers." The musical score makes excellent use of Max Steiner's main theme from The Adventures of Don Juan, not to mention contributions by the likes of Richard Marx and Cyndi Lauper. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Long, Long Trailer
At the height of their TV fame, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were contracted by MGM to make two theatrical films. The first of these, The Long, Long Trailer, stars Lucy and Desi as an upwardly mobile couple who decide to buy a trailer so they can live together while his job takes him around the country. Thanks to their naivete in such matters, they end up with a huge, bulky RV that costs five times what they planned. Their "seeing America" trip turns out to be a slapstick disaster, topped by Lucy's foolish decision to hide a heavy rock collection in the trailer; as Desi tries to maneuver a treacherous mountain road, the weighted-down home-on-wheels nearly loses its balance and almost tumbles off a cliff. The story is told in flashback, as Desi 'splains the breakup of his marriage to a motel court manager. Happily, Lucy shows up, goes "Waaaaah" a little, and all is forgiven. Despite the fact that audiences were getting Ball and Arnaz for free each week on television, The Long, Long Trailer was a big hit at the box-office. The film was adapted by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich from a novel by Clinton Twiss, with uncredited assistance from the I Love Lucy writing staff. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
When your dog, bird, or water-dwelling mammal disappears, who do you call? Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey) is a low-rent private eye who specializes in recovering lost animals, so when Snowflake, the Miami Dolphins' aquatic mascot, is kidnapped, team representative Melissa Robinson (Courtney Cox) puts Ace on the case. However, Snowflake isn't the only Miami Dolphin who has gone missing; several key members of the team also disappear, including quarterback Dan Marino (who plays himself), who is spirited away while filming a TV commercial. With the Super Bowl only two weeks away, will Ace be able to find Snowflake and the missing athletes in time to salvage the big game? Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was a surprise box office smash and catapulted manic comedian Jim Carrey to stardom. The supporting cast includes Sean Young as ill-tempered Lois Einhorn, Udo Kier as the sinister Ronald Camp, and rapper Tone Loc as Ace's detective pal Emilio (Loc also wrote and performed a song for the closing credits). ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Beetlejuice
Thanks to the carelessness of a cute little dog, newlyweds Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin are killed in a freak auto accident. Upon arriving in the outer offices of Heaven, the couple finds that, thanks to a century's worth of bureaucratic red tape, they're on a long celestial waiting list. Before they can earn their wings, Davis and Baldwin must occupy their old house as ghosts for the next fifty years. Alas, the house is now owned by insufferable yuppies Catherine O'Hara and Jeffrey Jones. Horrified at the prospect of sharing space with these obnoxious interlopers, Davis and Baldwin do their best to scare O'Hara and Jones away, but their house-haunting skills are pathetic at best. In desperation, the ghostly couple engage the services of a veteran scaremeister: a yellow-haired, snaggle-toothed, profane, flatulent "gonzo" spirit named Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton). The problem: Beetlejuice cannot be trusted-especially when he falls in love with O'Hara and Jones' gloomy, black-clad teenaged daughter Winona Ryder. Beetlejuice producer David Geffen, director Tim Burton, and composer Danny Elfman were also involved in an animated TV-series spin-off. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Arsenic and Old Lace
Arsenic and Old Lace is director Frank Capra's spin on the classic Joseph Kesselring stage comedy, which concerns the sweet old Brewster sisters (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), beloved in their genteel Brooklyn neighborhood for their many charitable acts. One charity which the ladies don't advertise is their ongoing effort to permit lonely bachelors to die with smiles on their faces--by serving said bachelors elderberry wine spiked with arsenic. When the sisters' drama-critic nephew Mortimer (Cary Grant) stumbles onto their secret, he is understandably put out--especially since he has just married the lovely Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane). Given the homicidal tendencies of his aunts, the sinister activities of his escaped-convict older brother Jonathan (Raymond Massey) and the disruptive behavior of younger brother Teddy (John Alexander)--who is convinced that he's really Theodore Roosevelt, and runs around the house yelling "CHAAAAARGGGE"--Mortimer isn't keen on starting a family with his new bride. "Insanity runs in my family," he explains. "It practically gallops." Further complications ensue when the murderous Jonathan Brewster arrives home, with his snivelling accomplice Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre) in tow. When Jonathan learns that his darling aunts have killed twelve men, he is incensed--they're challenging his own record of murders. Though the movie rights for Arsenic and Old Lace were set up so that the film could not be released until 1944, director Capra shot the film quickly and inexpensively in 1941, so that his family could subsist on his $100,000 salary while he was serving in World War II. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Wedding Crashers
Two guys find out the hard way that sneaking into the wrong party can cause serious problems in this comedy. Jeremy Klein (Vince Vaughn) and John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) are a pair of longtime friends who work for a law firm, helping contentious couples mediate their divorces. Their job has given them a cynical attitude about marriage, and as a hobby each weekend the two make a point of crashing weddings reception, where they load up on free food and booze and try their luck at seducing the bridesmaids. When William Cleary (Christopher Walken), the nation's Secretary of the Treasury and a possible candidate for the Presidency, announces his daughter is to wed, the nuptials are billed as the social event of the year, and Jeremy and John decide they must attend the reception. However, John makes the mistake of falling head over heels for Claire (Rachel McAdams), the bride's sister, while Jeremy attracts the attentions of a woman he'd prefer not to be involved with, and soon their romantic peccadilloes get them in very hot water. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Blazing Saddles
Vulgar, crude, and occasionally scandalous in its racial humor, this hilarious bad-taste spoof of Westerns, co-written by Richard Pryor, features Cleavon Little as the first black sheriff of a stunned town scheduled for demolition by an encroaching railroad. Little and co-star Gene Wilder have great chemistry, and the delightful supporting cast includes Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, and Madeline Kahn as a chanteuse modelled on Marlene Dietrich. As in Young Frankenstein (1974), Silent Movie (1976), and High Anxiety (1977), director/writer Mel Brooks gives a burlesque spin to a classic Hollywood movie genre; in his own manic, Borscht Belt way, Brooks was a central player in revising classic genres in light of Seventies values and attitudes, an effort most often associated with such directors as Robert Altman and Peter Bogdanovich . Some of this film's sequences, notably a gaseous bean dinner around a campfire, have become comedy classics. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

A Night at the Opera
National Lampoon's Vacation
The first film in the Vacation comedy franchise stars Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, an ad exec who becomes consumed with taking his family cross-country to Wally World, a California amusement park. Less a vacation than a descent into a peculiarly American kind of hell, the Griswolds suffer through an endless series of catastrophes, culminating in a run-in with the law. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

Risky Business
Risky Business is the film in which 19-year-old Tom Cruise dances around his living room in his underwear. He does this to celebrate the fact that his parents have left him alone while they go on vacation. Somewhere along the line, hooker Rebecca De Mornay, fleeing her vicious pimp, hides out in the Cruise manse. Things go from bad to worse to as Cruise inadvertently drives his father's Porsche into Lake Michigan and nearly scuttles his college recruitment interview. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Caddyshack
The smash success Caddyshack became a prototype for countless other wacky T&A-tinged teen comedies of the early 1980s. At an exclusive country club for WASPish snobs, an ambitious young caddy (Michael O'Keefe) from an overpopulated home eagerly pursues a caddy scholarship in hopes of attending college and, in turn, avoiding a job at the lumber yard. In order to succeed, he must first win the favor of the elitist Judge Smails (Ted Knight), then the caddy golf tournament which the good judge sponsors. Of course, there are love interests as well -- one good, one naughty -- not to mention several foes he must vanquish along the way. The story itself serves to string along a series of slapstick scenes involving an obnoxious nouveau riche land developer (Rodney Dangerfield) who wants to turn the site into a condominium community; an oddball, Zen-quoting, millionaire slacker/golf ace (Chevy Chase); and a psychotic groundskeeper (Bill Murray) with a gopher-fixation. Caddyshack was a bona fide hit; throughout the '80s and '90s, director Harold Ramis would continue to create such hits as Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, and Analyze This. ~ Jeremy Beday, Rovi

Bringing Up Baby
Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant star in this inspired comedy about a madcap heiress with a pet leopard who meets an absent-minded paleontologist and unwittingly makes a fiasco of both their lives. David Huxley (Grant) is the stuffy paleontologist who needs to finish an exhibit on dinosaurs and thus land a $1 million grant for his museum. At a golf outing with his potential benefactors, Huxley is spotted by Susan Vance (Hepburn) who decides that she must have the reserved scientist at all costs. She uses her pet leopard, Baby, to trick him into driving to her Connecticut home, where a dog wanders into Huxley's room and steals the vital last bone that he needs to complete his project. The real trouble begins when another leopard escapes from the local zoo and Baby is mistaken for it, leading Huxley and Susan into a series of harebrained and increasingly more insane schemes to save the cat from the authorities. Inevitably, the two end up in the local jail, where things get even more out of hand: Susan pretends to be the gun moll to David's diabolical, supposedly wanted criminal. Naturally, the mismatched pair falls in love through all the lunacy. Director Howard Hawks delivers a funny, fast-paced, and offbeat story, enlivened by animated performances from the two leads, in what has become a definitive screwball comedy. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

Spies Like Us
Director John Landis helmed this Cold War farce starring Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase as Austin Millbarge and Emmett Fitz-Hume -- two loser misfits who dwell in the lower ranks of the Central Intelligence Agency. Convinced despite much evidence to the contrary that they're prime secret agent material, both men keep taking service exams in an effort to win promotion. Caught cheating on their latest round of tests, Austin and Emmett expect to be fired but are instead made full field agents and ushered into intense training. Little do they know that it's all a ruse and that they're about to be dumped in Pakistan to throw Russian spies off the scent of two real agents with an important clandestine assignment. A spoof of the "road" pictures popularized by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, the film features a cameo by the latter as his golf-playing self. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

Stage Door
Adapted from the Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman play, Stage Door is a comedic portrait of the theatrical community in New York. Katharine Hepburn stars as Terry Randall a young woman who comes from a wealthy, socially connected family. Aspiring for a career on the stage, Terry opts to see if she can make it on her own gumption and moves into a boarding house with several other wannabe Broadway starlets attempting to make a mark for themselves in show business. Terry's sassy roommate Jean (Ginger Rogers) just might get the opportunity to do that when she meets a lecherous producer, but at what cost? Unamused by Terry's attempts to pull herself up by her bootstraps, her father offers her an opportunity for a starring role in a show that's sure to fail. Lucille Ball, Eve Arden, and Ann Miller are among the other residents of the boarding house. ~ Matthew Tobey, Rovi

Grumpy Old Men
This cheerful holiday comedy, a surprise box office smash, featured a generous dollop of raunchy, crude humor and was greatly elevated by the presence of masterful performers in the lead roles. Jack Lemmon is John Gustafson, an ice-fishing Minnesota native who has been feuding with his neighbor and former best friend Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) for decades. The battle of wills between John and Max is characterized by crude name calling and harmless practical jokes. Max is unaware that John is having serious problems, chiefly that his daughter Melanie (Daryl Hannah) is experiencing marital woes and that his house is about to be confiscated by an officious IRS agent (Buck Henry). When it seems that John and Max may finally put aside their childish rivalry, however, sexy new neighbor Ariel (Ann-Margret) arrives and dates both men, pitting them against each other more fiercely than ever before. Despite their mutual loathing, the death of a friend, John's problems, and a budding romance between Max's son Jacob (Kevin Pollak) and Melanie may force the two old friends to reconcile. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

Analyze This
In the same year that a hit cable television series, The Sopranos, successfully mined the same premise, this comedy about a mobster seeking advice from a psychiatrist was a box office winner for director Harold Ramis. Billy Crystal stars as Dr. Ben Sobel, a New York shrink who's becoming a little bored with his upscale but neurotic clientele. Into Sobel's practice comes a guy with legitimate problems, Mafia kingpin Paul Viti (Robert DeNiro), a godfather who is being reduced to tears and panic attacks by stress and his guilt over his beloved father's assassination. Intimidated but also fascinated by Viti, Dr. Sobel becomes frustrated when his mob boss patient becomes a full-time occupation, as Viti summons the psychiatrist for his professional help at all hours and in all places, even including the doctor's Florida wedding to TV reporter Laura MacNamara (Lisa Kudrow). In the meantime, a power struggle is brewing with Viti's long-time rival Primo Sidone (Chazz Palminteri), but Viti begins employing the feel-good self-help jargon and techniques he's learned from Dr. Sobel to keep his enemy off balance. Just as the therapist and his powerful patient are making breakthroughs, the FBI attempts to persuade Sobel that Viti is going to have him murdered, leading to a nearly lethal misunderstanding. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

The In-Laws
Dentist Sheldon Kornpett (Alan Arkin) is a respectable man. He has a daughter who is about to marry the son of a very suspicious character, Vince Ricardo (Peter Falk). They are practically relatives already, the wedding is so near. Certainly, Sheldon already despises Vince as if he were already a well-known relative. Nontheless, Vince calls on Sheldon and convinces him to go with him on a series of wild and hilarious adventures, claiming all the while that he is a CIA agent, and that what he is doing is in the national interest. Sheldon follows Vince to a South American country ruled by a very odd man, General Garcia (Richard Libertini), who talks to his hand (which talks back). It seems that the dictator is involved in a scheme to counterfeit and undermine U.S. currency. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi

The Hangover
A blowout Las Vegas bachelor party turns into a race against time when three hung-over groomsmen awaken after a night of drunken debauchery to find that the groom has gone missing, and attempt to get him to the alter in time for his wedding. In 48 hours, Doug is scheduled to walk down the aisle, effectively ending his reign as a rowdy bachelor. Realizing that this is their last blowout with their best friend, Doug's groomsmen organize a Sin City bachelor bash he'll never forget. The next morning, the groomsmen come to in their Caesar's Palace suite to find a tiger in the bathroom and a six-month-old baby tucked away in the closet. Unfortunately, Doug is nowhere to be found. With no memory of the previous night's transgressions and precious little time to spare, the trio sets out in a hazy attempt to retrace their steps and discover exactly where things went wrong. Will they find Doug in time to get him to the wedding back in Los Angeles, or will his bride experience the sharp sting of disappointment when she walks down the aisle to discover that her future husband is nowhere to be found? Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Heather Graham star in a rambunctious comedy from Old School director Todd Phillips. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

The Great Race
Tony Curtis stars as The Great Leslie, a hero among heroes whose purity of heart is manifested by his spotlessly white wardrobe. Leslie's great rival, played by Jack Lemmon, is Professor Fate, a scowling, mustachioed, top-hatted, black-garbed villain. Long envious of Leslie's record-setting accomplishments with airships and sea craft, Professor Fate schemes to win a 22,000-mile auto race from New York City to Paris by whatever insidious means possible. The problem is that Fate is his own worst enemy: each of his plans to remove Leslie from the running (and from the face of the earth) backfires. Leslie's own cross to bear is suffragette Maggie Dubois (Natalie Wood), who also hopes to win the contest and thus strike a blow for feminism. The race takes all three contestants to the Wild West, the frozen wastes of Alaska, and, in the longest sequence, the mythical European kingdom of Carpania. This last-named country is the setting for a wild Prisoner of Zenda spoof involving Professor Fate and his look-alike, the foppish Carpanian king. When Leslie and Fate approach the finish line at the Eiffel Tower, Leslie deliberately loses to prove his love for Maggie. Professor Fate cannot stand winning under these circumstances, thus he demands that he and Leslie race back to New York. The supporting cast includes Peter Falk as Fate's long-suffering flunkey Max, Keenan Wynn as Leslie's faithful general factotum, Dorothy Provine as a brassy saloon singer, Larry Storch as ill-tempered bandit Texas Jack, and Ross Martin as Baron Von Stuppe. The film also yielded a hit song, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer's The Sweetheart Tree. The Great Race was dedicated to "Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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