Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb (#88)

#88: Bringing Up Baby vs The Great Dictator

Finally, two comedies!!  Thank God.  I was almost at my limits of “drama” (Where drama = me crying my eyes out week after week over sad movies).

The Great Dictator (IMDb). My confession: I’m not a huge Charlie Chaplin fan.  I appreciate him for what he is: one of the greatest silent film comedians, but I’ve never been much interested in watching his movies.  The Great Dictator was Chaplin’s first true talkie and was one of his greatest commercial successes.

The movie is pretty slow, the slapstick too overly-familiar to an audience watching now. But Chaplin playing Hitler – particularly his speech in “German” – is sheer brilliance; the comedic timing just as relevant for today.  At any moment in that speech he could’ve broken into “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!!” and I totally would’ve believed it was SNL.

What is interesting to me is The Great Dictator was on the IMDb list and not AFI. But AFI stuck with Chaplin’s silent classics: Modern Times (#69), The Gold Rush (#58), and City Lights (#11).

Bringing Up Baby is a wonderful screwball comedy. Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant throw out zany one-liners faster than I can keep up. It’s a 90-minute running joke that is a joy to watch.  It’s not my favorite screwball comedy – don’t worry, it’s coming –, but it’s definitely one of the best.   If it gets a bit silly at times… that can be forgiven.

So once again I’m going with AFI this week. I liked The Great Dictator, but Bringing Up Baby just has that undeniable spark.  But I’m sure Charlie will get a future vote from me. This brings the score to: AFI – 10, IMDb – 3.

Next week’s 12 Angry Men vs. Taratino’s Inglorious Basterds.


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