The beauty of a silent movie is its universality; no language barrier comes between you and the delight of the film. The Italian Straw Hat is a French movie whose alternate title pretty much tells the story: The Horse Ate the Hat. Fadinard, a young man on his way to his wedding, has a confrontation along the way when his horse eats the straw hat of a young married lady having a dalliance in the woods with an army officer not her husband. Feeling she can’t go home without the prized hat, the lady and her lover blackmail the young groom into finding a replacement hat.
In the midst of trying to get married, trying to find a hat, trying to keep his relatives from finding the officer and his lady hiding in his apartment, Fadinard has quite a day. The comic timing and antics keep you laughing from beginning to end.
Jane Villanueva is in for an unfortunate surprise when her gynecologist mixes up the room numbers and accidentally inseminates Jane instead of giving her a pap smear. Soon enough, Jane is caught in a web of crisscrossing plot lines and interrelated characters, all told by a hilarious omniscient narrator.
Here’s what you need to know: Jane is accidentally inseminated by Luisa, whose brother, Rafael Solano, is the ultra-handsome, ultra-rich father of the baby. Rafael is married to Petra, whose mother, Magda, spells big trouble for Jane’s family, the Villanuevas. During Jane’s pregnancy, her mother, Xiomara reconnects with Jane’s father, the telenovela star, Rogelio de la Vega. To add yet another level of drama, Jane’s fiancée, Michael, is investigating the crime lord Sin Rostro, who has links to the Solanos, Jane’s new in-laws.
The plot may sound complicated—and it is—but the narrator makes it easy to follow along and keep track of the large cast of characters in this ridiculous dramatic comedy which plays on and pokes fun at many traditional telenovela tropes. Gina Rodriguez, who plays Jane, won the Golden Globe for best actress in 2015 and was nominated again in 2016. The first season of Jane the Virgin is available on DVD or on Netflix with our roku devices.
Summer Stock is a feel-good, corny (pun intended), let’s-put-on-a-show-in-the-barn musical starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. His unforgettable dance with a newspaper and creaky floorboards, and Garland’s show stopping “Get Happy” highlight this cheerful, old-fashioned film.
Check out Turner Classic Movies’ article on Summer Stock, then watch the film.
This British LGBT historical comedy drama is based on a true story. Lesbian and gay activists raised money to help the striking British miners in 1984. The National Union of Mine Workers was reluctant to accept the group’s support because of publicity worries of being associated with a gay group. So the activists took their hefty donations directly to the small mining village of Onllwyn, Wales. What results is a wonderful story of the unlikely alliance between the two communities. It is told with love, dignity, and comedy.
I found that Pride kept its political correctness while providing good entertainment with a cast of wonderful actors like Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, and more.
For another take on Pride, read Jez’s review here.
Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, is accidentally sent back in time 30 years to 1955 by his friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). While Marty works desperately to find a way back to the future, he inadvertently interferes with the relationship of his high school age parents. If he does not get them to unite, he may cease to exist. Christopher Lloyd is brilliant as nutty Doc Brown, and Michael J. Fox has just the right combination of awkward and cool to make you laugh and cheer at the same time. Back to the Future is a fun adventure comedy that the whole family will love.
In this baseball comedy, Guffy McGovern (Paul Douglas), the manager of a very awful Pittsburgh Pirates team, is foul mouthed, hated by his players, ridiculed by the fans, and regularly badmouthed by the Pirates radio announcer (Keenan Wynn). Newspaper reporter Jennifer Paige (Janet Leigh) is assigned to cover the Pirates and give a woman’s perspective on the team. When she initially tries to interview McGovern, he gives her a very impolite brushoff.
A short time later, an angel contacts McGovern, and tells him that someone has been praying for him and the Pirates. If McGovern can control his temper, the angel and some of his friends will help the Pirates win a few games. McGovern agrees and suddenly this heretofore awful Pirates team are playing great baseball.
Bridget White (Donna Corcoran), an orphan who is hoping to be adopted, has been praying for the Pirates. One day, the girls at the orphanage are brought to the ballpark by two nuns (played by longtime character actors Spring Byington and Ellen Corby). During the game, Bridget witnesses the angels helping the Pirates. Nobody else can see the angels. Paige writes a story about Bridget, which causes a lot of complications for all involved. But it also leads to lot of good things including an unlikely romance between McGovern and Paige.
Angels in the Outfield has a lot of laughs and a lot of heart, plus a few cameo appearances by Bing Crosby, baseball greats Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio, and famous songwriter Harry Ruby. It also has some stock footage showing old Comiskey Park.
This is my favorite baseball movie and I hope you enjoy it too. You can also peruse our list of other baseball films.
This romantic comedy stars Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges. They both teach at Columbia University. Good looking but stiff and awkward, Gregory (Bridges) has had his share of troubles with the gorgeous but none-too-stimulating women he dates as well as with engaging his students. Rose (Streisand), an intelligent, popular teacher with limited dating options, struggles to find her self-worth and confidence in relationships. Gregory advertises for an intellectual companion, “physical appearance unimportant,” and unbeknownst to Rose, her beautiful sister (Mimi Rogers) responds to the ad for her. This sets the stage for a meeting and subsequent relationship between Rose and Gregory. Respect and friendship vs. attraction and desire result in a witty, enjoyable film. Lauren Bacall and Pierce Brosnan have fun secondary roles in The Mirror Has Two Faces.
Never was comic timing and sight gags at such a high point as in the silent movies of these comic geniuses.
Buster Keaton in The Navigator (1924). Spoiled rich boy Rollo Treadwell and his equally spoiled neighbor Betsy O’Brien find themselves adrift in the ship The Navigator. The two hapless drifters are at first completely at a loss when they have to try to feed themselves by opening cans of food or boiling water, but as the time goes by, they devise clever management skills and learn to work together to fight off swordfish and cannibals.
Charlie Chaplin in The Gold Rush (1925). The little tramp, Chaplin’s signature character, goes to the Klondike in search of gold. There he survives the bitter winter, makes his fortune, and wins the girl. Along the way he enjoys the famous boiled leather dinner and performs the dance of the dinner rolls.
Harry Langdon in The Strong Man (1926). At the end of WWI, a little, mild-mannered Belgian immigrant comes to America looking for his beloved pen pal, Mary Brown. All he knows is that she lives in America. He joins in the stage act of fellow immigrant Zandow the Great, the Strong Man, going on in his stead when Zandow is incapacitated. Langdon also performs his famous backwards climb up the stairs. Directed by Frank Capra.
Harold Lloyd in The Kid Brother (1927). Harold Hickory is the youngest and scrawniest of the Hickory boys whose father is the town sheriff. When his father is accused of theft, Harold sets out to prove to his family, his girl, and his town that he is the equal of any Hickory in Hickoryville.
A “mockumentary” about (very) old-fashioned vampires living in a modern world. Fans of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords (which also stars Jemaine Clement) will love the similarly understated, dry humor of the film. Equally satirical of pop culture’s current love affair with the undead and our obsession with reality television at the expense of our privacy, What We Do in the Shadows has the making of a cult classic.
This romantic comedy/drama tells the story of Oliver, reflecting on the life and death of his father Hal, and his new romantic relationship with Anna who is dealing with her own father issues.
Christopher Plummer won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance of Hal, the father. Shortly after his wife’s death, Hal came out as a gay man. He becomes active in the gay community, becomes more honest with himself and thus grows closer to his son. Shortly after Hal dies, his son Oliver meets Anna at a party and decides to pursue a romance with her.
Beginners is a personal story, a touching story. Described as a quirky comedy, the viewer watches a man in late bloom and his the effect it had on his son’s life.