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By Christopher Beach

Interpreting the evolution of yankee movie comedy because the starting of the sound period (c. 1930), Christopher seashore makes a speciality of how language, type, and social relationships in early sound comedies via the Marx Brothers, the screwball comedies of the Nineteen Thirties via Capra, Sturges and others, and Nineteen Fifties comedies of Frank Tashlin and Vincente Minnelli, and modern motion pictures by way of Woody Allen, Whit Stillman, and the Coen brothers. seashore argues that sound and narrative improved the semiotic and ideological capability of a movie, delivering moments of real social critique and in addition mass leisure. Christopher seashore teaches on the college of California, Irvine, and has taught on the collage of Montana and Claremont Graduate college. he's the writer of 3 books on American poetry, together with Poetic tradition (Northwestern, 1999). this is often his first booklet on movie.

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Extra resources for Class, Language, and American Film Comedy

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You ask me to forget? A Firefly never forgets. Why, my ancestors would rise from their graves and I would only have to bury them again. Nothing doing. Jokes about family origins, especially involving the Mayflower, contain a clear autobiographical reference to the Marx Brothers’ own status as the sons of immigrants with little or no known ancestry. None of the brothers even knew the name of their father’s parents. In fact, their father’s family background, like that of so many other immigrants, was erased from history.

Goodbye . . : It could have been marvelous . . : Divine . . : Wonderful . . But tomorrow morning, if you should wake out of your dreams and hear a knock, and the door opens, and there, instead of a maid with a breakfast tray, stands a policeman with a warrant – then you’ll be glad you’re alone. 20 A TROUBLED PARADISE : But it could have been glorious. : Lovely. : Divine . . But that terrible policeman! : Goodbye . . While on the page such dialogue can appear overstylized and even stilted, it is very effective on screen, especially since its distinctive rhythm has been set up by earlier dialogues in the film.

At the end, order is restored to the opera company as the “good” singers triumph and Groucho and Chico both get commissions. We might compare this treatment of the opera in the MGM film with the more subversive trial scene in Duck Soup, its Paramount counterpart, 27 CLASS, LANGUAGE, AND AMERIC AN FILM COMEDY in which Rufus T. Firefly’s declaration of war causes the entire assembly, including generals, ministers, and guards, to break into song. ”20 When cinematic speech is “relativized,” it is taken out of the strict linear continuum of the theatrical model.

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