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BAMPFA Delves Into Classic Comedy with New Film Series

This coming Thursday, the next film series from the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) takes on comedy, some of which some moments are considered iconic in the world of film.

The film series Funny Ha-Ha: American Comedy, 1930-1959, consist of films that begins with the tongue-twisting talkies, and ends with a certain iconic image of an actor in drag. This is first part of a three-part series, beginning with the rise of Depression-era screwball comedy, with stars that include the Marx Brothers and W.C. Field, and as the film series continues, transcend to baby-boomer era comedies starting such stars including Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and Tony Curtis.

Funny Ha-Ha begins with the movie My Man Godfrey (1936), screened on January 16th. The movie is a screwball comedy of New York socialites, searching for authenticity. That movie is followed by the 1933 Marx Brothers film Duck Soup on January 19th, then 1934’s It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable as a reporter, chasing after a spoiled heiress (played by Claudette Colbert).

On January 24th, the film series enters the 1940s with two films; The Bank Dick, which stars W.C. Fields as a money-swindling security guard, and the His Girl Friday, which stars Cary Grant as a reporter trying to win back his top reporter, who also happens to be his wife. Two more comedies from the decade will also include another Claudette Colbert-starred film The Palm Beach Story (1942) on January 29th, and 1949’s Adam’s Rib, which stars Kathleen Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

The film series finally ends with three films from the 1950s. First on February 6th, is the film Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? It’s a film about media-driven consumerism, and starring Tony Randall and Janye Mansfield. The final two films star Marilyn Monroe, with the first being 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which is perhaps known for starting the phrase “diamonds a girl’s best friend”, and 1959’s Some Like it Hot, which of course features Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag.

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