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Reeling with Laughter: American Film Comedies: From Anarchy to Mockumentary Reprint Edition
by Michael V. Tueth (Author)
Film comedy has been around as long as cinema itself. Over the years, particular forms of the genre have emerged, evolved, and spawned other branches of comedy. While these subgenres may vary in their approach to humor, all of them have the same goal: amusing audiences. In Reeling with Laughter: American Film Comedies—From Anarchy to Mockumentary, Michael V. Tueth examines some of the most enjoyable comic movies of all time. Beginning with the anarchic romp Duck Soup (1933), each chapter explores a specific subgenre through a representative film. Along with the Marx Brothers’ classic, other subgenres discussed in this volume include romantic comedy (It Happened One Night), screwball comedy (Bringing Up Baby and What’s Up, Doc?), musical comedy (Singin’ in the Rain), sex farce (Some Like It Hot), satire (Dr. Strangelove), parody (Young Frankenstein), neurotic comedy (Annie Hall), Dionysian comedy (Animal House), mockumentary (Waiting for Guffman), and animated comedy (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut).
In this volume, Tueth provides the background of each film’s production and discusses their audience reception, critical appraisal, and the qualities that have characterized these enduring works. Reeling with Laughter will appeal to film students, as well as the general public eager to revisit these great American films.
Tueth (communication and media studies, Fordham Univ.) analyzes 12 US comedies as representative of 11 genres. Duck Soup is clearly anarchic comedy; It Happened One Night, romantic; Singin’ in the Rain, musical; Some Like It Hot, sex farce; Dr. Strangelove, satire; Young Frankenstein, parody; Annie Hall, neurotic; Animal House, Dionysian; Waiting for Guffman, mockumentary; and South Park, feature animation. For screwball, Bringing Up Baby is joined by its undervalued remake, What’s Up, Doc?. Each chapter provides an excellent introduction to its film(s). The author nods to the literary antecedents, chats about production details, cites other critics effectively, and moves easily between the film’s general significance and close readings of important scenes. With all the quoted jokes and recollections, this makes for a delightful read, especially as Tueth prefers the subject texts over any imported theory. This excellent book would be valuable as a textbook and a solid basis for more extensive explorations of less examined genres (neurotic, Dionysian, mockumentary, and animation). Summing Up: Highly recommended. (CHOICE)
This is an important work for film buffs that will probably be most used in the circulating collection. (American Reference Books Annual)
In Reeling with Laughter: American Film Comedies: From Anarchy to Mockumentary, Michael V. Tueth looks at some of the most enduring comic movies of all time. Beginning with the anarchic romp Duck Soup (1933), each chapter explores a specific sub-genre by examining a representative film. Tueth delves into the background of each film’s production and discusses their audience reception and critical appraisal. By examining classic examples of various sub-genres, Tueth provides readers with an understanding of the qualities that have characterized these works.
Michael V. Tueth, SJ, teaches film and television studies in the Department of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University. He is the author of Laughter in the Living Room: Television Comedy and the American Home Audience (2005).
For People Who Take Comedy Films VERY SERIOUSLY!
June 23, 2012
University film professor Michael Tueth surveys American film comedy in this 2012 release from Scarecrow Press. REELING WITH LAUGHTER spotlights “various subgenres that have sustained their popularity and quality over the years and strives to find (film comedy’s) own particular niche in film studies.” Each subgenre is represented by one or two comedy “gems” which are described and analyzed.
Among the sub-genres and films covered in REELING WITH LAUGHTER are “Anarchic Comedy” (DUCK SOUP), “Romantic Comedy” (IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT), “Screwball Comedy” (BRINGING UP BABY & WHAT’S UP DOC?), “Sex Farce” (SOME LIKE IT HOT), “Parody” (YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN), “Neurotic Comedy” (DR. STRANGELOVE) and “Mockumentary” (WAITING FOR GUFFMAN).
Your reaction to REELING FROM LAUGHTER will probably depend on how seriously you take film comedy. Tueth includes a great deal of interesting production history along with detailing each film’s plot including ‘the good parts.’ The analysis, though, sometimes gets awfully scholarly. For example, Tueth’s recap of NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE, the exemplar of “Dionysian Comedy,” is replete with references to Dionysian energy, Friedrich Nietzsche, the Komos ritual, etc. Well, OK.
REELING WITH LAUGHTER will appeal most to college film study profs and students. Us regular Joes could do without the scholarly dissection, which tends to suck the fun out of what’s being analyzed. Short and sweet: Recommended with reservations.
One point in passing: the book is way-overpriced at $60.00!