The funniest scenes on film? It’s subjective, but here are a smattering of movie scenes of the sound era that make me chuckle or laugh whenever I recall or see them again. What are your favorites?
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) Pursued down the manse’s hall by the monster, our bumbling heroes slam the door and push up against it a bed. However, the door opens into the hall.
Adam’s Rib (1950) Katharine Hepburn screeches when Spencer Tracy puts a gun barrel in his mouth—and bites it off. “Licorice.”
Airplane (1980) Barbara Billingsley translates jive for two Brothers.
Airplane 2 (1982) Moonbase captain William Shatner is contacted and asked to help with a rescue mission. It turns out that Shatner’s mug is not being viewed on a monitor, rather a window because he opens the door to provide his answer and expertise.
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) Attempting to thwart teen Shirley Temple’s crush on him, Cary Grant decides to play along and act her age. Upon coming to her house and meeting her grandfather, Grant says, “I know a man.” “What man?” asks gramps. “Man with a power.” “What power?” “Power of who-do.” “Who-do?” “You do.” “I do what?” “Know a man.”
Bananas (1971) Woody Allen leads a guerilla army to topple a Central American dictator. On the way to the capital Woody and his lieutenants enter the Bar Rest. El Verde and order 1,000 grilled cheese, 300 tuna, and 200 BLTs. Woody is reminded that Fernandez wants his on a roll.
Biloxi Blues (1988) Matthew Broderick is oppressed by the Mississippi heat during Basic Training and complains, “It never got this hot in Brooklyn. It’s like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of hot.”
Bringing Up Baby (1938) To cover Katharine Hepburn’s torn dress posterior, Cary Grant latches onto her and they walk out of the room , legs in sync.
Coming to America (1988) John Amos, owner of the McDowell’s hamburger emporium, is told by employee Louis Anderson that he’s wanted out front. When he comes out he encounters the glaring King of Zamunda (James Earl Jones) in his lion-skin vestments accompanied by his wife and assorted minions.
Father of the Bride (1950) Spencer Tracy has a dream in which he can’t get down to aisle to give daughter Elizabeth Taylor away. The floor ripples, his clothes are torn to shreds. Everyone is looking at him, aghast.
A Foreign Affair (1948) When staid Congresswoman Jean Arthur asks John Lund how he knows so much about women’s clothes he responds, “My mother wore women’s clothes.”
The Graduate (1967) At poolside during his college graduation party, Dustin Hoffman is offered advice about his future by one of his father’s corporate chums: “One word: Plastics.”
Harold and Maude (1972) Harold’s Uncle Victor (CharlesTyner), an Army “lifer” with one arm, gazes upon the portrait of patriot Nathan Hale and yanks on a lanyard below his service bars and pulls his empty sleeve up in salute.
The In-Laws (1979) Dentist Alan Arkin is introduced to Central American dictator Richard Libertini by Peter Falk. The dictator introduces Arkin to his “hand” puppet Senor Pepe, who gives Arkin a kiss.
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) Accidentally locked in a hardware store basement, Sid Caesar and Edie Adams make valiant efforts to break out, from using a sledgehammer to charging into the wall on a forklift.
Meatballs (1979) While loading up the children for Camp Mohawk, Tripper (Bill Murray) is asked by a local newscaster to explain why the camp costs $1,000 a week. Tripper reveals that they will once again perform Shakespeare in the round and host a political roundtable at which Henry Kissinger and Yassur Arafat will appear. “But the real excitement,” Murray adds, occurs during “sexual awareness week” at the end of which the winner gets to pillage neighboring towns.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his men cannot pass the wood until they give the guardian knights “a shrubbery!”
Murder by Death (1976) “What the hell kind of a circus was it?” asks Peter Falk of Eileen Brennan after she tried to explain her strange childhood.
The Naked Gun (1988) In trying to determine the assassin at a baseball game, Inspector Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) incapacitates and assumes the identities of scheduled National Anthem –singing tenor Enrico Pallazzo and the plate umpire. When Drebin’s umpire mask comes off during an altercation, a spectator (Mark Holton) leaps up and yells, “It’s Enrico Pallazzo!”
A New Leaf (1971) Clumsy but rich biologist Henrietta Lowell (Elaine May) asks suitor Walter Matthau if he’s “ever tasted Mogen David’s Extra Heavy Malaga Wine with Soda and Lime Juice.”
A Night in Casablanca (1946) Hiding in a war criminal’s (Sig Ruman) hotel room, Groucho, Chico and Harpo Marx foil the Nazi’s attempt to pack his steamer trunks by removing the contents every time his back is turned.
The Odd Couple (1968) Oscar (Walter Matthau) confronts Felix (Jack Lemmon) about all the irritating little notes he leaves in their apartment. “We Are All Out Of Cornflakes—F U. Took me three hours to figure out that F U is Felix Ungar!”
One, Two, Three (1961) West Berlin Coca-Cola rep McNamara (James Cagney) wants to break into the Communist market where all those Cossacks and Volga boatmen thirst for the pause that refreshes. With his bumptious blonde secretary (Lilo Pulver) in tow, he entertains three Communist apparatchiks at a nightclub. To the tune of the orchestra’s “Yes, We Have No Bananas” the secretary dances on the table with flaming shishkabob sticks, one of which is caught by the aged orchestra leader without missing a beat.
Only Two Can Play (1962) Attempting to exit unseen from the home where he has been trying to consummate a relationship with a town councillor’s wife, Peter Sellers keeps running into guests and pretends to be the butler and a plumbing inspector. Not knowing the house, he keeps opening closets and doors that foil his escape. It is a preview of Sellers ‘ bumbling Inspector Clouseau.
Operation Petticoat (1959) Hoping to sink an anchored Japanese vessel, Cary Grant’s plan comes to naught when a nurse accidentally and prematurely launches the torpedo. An explosion is heard but when Grant looks through the periscope he finds that “We sunk a truck!”
Send Me No Flowers (1964) When Doris Day demands that Rock Hudson reveal the name of the woman with whom he pretends to be having an affair, he answers, “Dolores.” Doris wants a last name. Rock scans the wall of the train station baggage room where this conversation takes place, spots a Smokey the Bear poster and announces, “Yellowstone.”
So Fine (1981) Ryan O’Neal is being chased by mobster Richard Kiel, a mountain of a man. “A giant? Was he well dressed?” asks Jack Warden, garment district impresario.
Stripes (1981) When Sergeant Hulka (Warren Oates) is injured, Bill Murray and the platoon finish Basic Training on their own and at graduation explain to the general (Robert J. Wilke), “That’s a fact, Jack!”
That Touch of Mink (1962) Learning that Doris Day is being taken to a seedy motel, Cary Grant exclaims in disgust, “Al’s Motel. (harumph!) Sounds like a place where you bring your own light bulbs.”
Topper Takes a Trip (1939) Escorted through a hotel by the ghost Marian Kirby, Topper (Roland Young) seems to be floating on air or having a fit.
Who Was That Lady? (1960) Inadvertently mixed up with Communist spies and the FBI, Tony Curtis and Dean Martin are kidnapped and wake up in what they think is a Red submarine. Intending to sabotage it, they begin smashing pipes and releasing water. Trouble is, they are not in a submarine, rather the basement of the Empire State Building.
Young Frankenstein (1974) To show the townsfolk that he has indeed created life, Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) teaches the monster (Peter Boyle) to sing and dance on stage. However, the creature doesn’t do it well enough and the audience hisses and boos and pelts him with garbage.
Zorro, the Gay Blade (1981) Each time Ron Leibman’s Captain Esteban is ready to order the firing squad to shoot, the drummers begin drumming.