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The 10 essential Cary Grant comedies

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Has there ever been a more charismatic leading man than Cary Grant? From Clark Gable to George Clooney, no screen star ever radiated affable likability and suave charm like the former Archie Leach. He was a movie star back in the era when being a movie star meant something beyond being derided for expressing political opinions (something Grant himself always opposed), and many consider him to be the greatest movie star of all time. He was quick with his wit as he was with a smile, and his comedies are every bit as entertaining as his dramas. Now this list is certainly not a comprehensive one – most Grant fans will tell you that all of his comedies are essential, and you should check them all out when you have the time. It’ll be time amusingly spent – and here’s a list of ten great Cary Grant comedies to start with, in chronological order.


1. “The Awful Truth” (1937)

Director Leo McCarey’s screwball comedy about a divorcing couple who spend their time trying to completely undermine each other’s attempts to move on to new loves was the first time Grant’s trademark light-comic bantering style hit the silver screen, opposite the fantastically game Irene Dunne. In fact, McCarey is credited with helping develop that persona of Grant’s. Even though there was tension on the set between the two, Grant would work with McCarey three more times. This is also one of three ‘couples on the verge of divorce rediscovering their love’ comedies on this list alone.


2. “Bringing Up Baby” (1938)

This Howard Hawks farce was a revelation of Katherine Hepburn’s comic talents, as she plays Susan Vance, a free-spirited heiress who’s been given a tamed leopard named Baby to deliver to her aunt on behalf of her brother. Grant, meanwhile, plays uptight paleontologist David Huxley, who is slated to get married the next day to a less-than-charming woman named Alice Swallow. Susan thinks he’s some kind of animal expert rather than a fossil expert, and she conspires to rope him into her shenanigans once she realizes she’s in love with the exasperated man. While this didn’t do exceptional business at the box office, it’s since grown into one of Grant’s most beloved films.


3. “His Girl Friday (1940)”

Another Hawks effort, this time pitting Grant’s hard-nosed Morning Post newspaper editor Walter Burns opposite Rosalind Russell’s Hildy Johnson, ex-star reporter and Burns’ ex-wife. It seems she’s got marriage plans he’s out to ruin by, among other things, getting her fiancé repeatedly arrested for ridiculous reasons. What proves to be the winning formula, however, is when the case of an escaped death-row convict falls into her lap, and the lure of her job proves too much to resist. The dialog is absolutely rapid-fire here, and although Russell’s part was originally written for a man, and then for several other actresses before she stepped in, she was so determined to make her mark on this picture that she hired her own writer to punch up her scripted lines, disguised as ad-libs, in order to be a match for Grant.


4. “The Philadelphia Story” (1940)

Another remarriage comedy that teamed Grant up with Hepburn once again by director George Cukor, this time with Jimmy Stewart thrown into the mix. Stewart is Mike Connor, a writer and reluctant society reporter with more intellectual aspirations assigned to cover the impending marriage of socialite Tracy Haven (Hepburn) to the newly rich George Kittredge (John Howard), something which both Connor and Tracy’s ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant) have seen fit to sabotage. The ensuing back and forth and forth and back again has Tracy torn between the three men. Although Grant and Hepburn had worked together often, she had the reputation of being box office poison for a long while until this film gave her the hit she needed – and the hit she deserved, quite frankly. Aside from the comedy, it’s one of the absolutely classic romantic movies of all time as well.


5. “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1944)

One of the most popular Cary Grant performances is also one he didn’t think was very good. He’s very frenetic in this macabre comedy as Mortimer Bewster, the newlywed author who discovers that his brother thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt and his aunts have taken up the habit of poisoning lonely old men. Throw in Mortimer’s other brother Jonathan (Raymond Massey in a role written for Boris Karloff) and his alcoholic partner Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre) trying to find a place to dispose of a body they’ve killed (and eventually decide they want to kill Mortimer), all while his wife Elaine (Priscilla Lane) is waiting to start their honeymoon, and you’ve got a really twisted gem from Frank Capra.

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Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

10 reasons to love Paul Rudd

Paul Rudd in Wanderlust

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On the surface, Paul Rudd is not fair. A man should not be allowed to be that handsome and that funny at the same time – it ruins the grading curve for the rest of us. One or the other, Rudd, pick a side, we’re at war. Wait, that’s not my line. Anyway, dudes should be seething with jealousy about Rudd’s success, but it’s really hard to do that. The man’s so damn lovable. Why is that, exactly? Well, let’s run down ten reasons why Rudd is comedy gold.


1. “Wanderlust” (2012)

More specifically, Paul Rudd talking to himself in the mirror and trying to psych himself up to engage in some wife-approved infidelity when he’s quietly freaking out about his entire life being swallowed up by a hippie commune. He’s good-looking enough to be an acceptable leading man for Jennifer Aniston (he’s done it twice now – both times playing a guy named George, although he was a gay love interest in The Object of My Affection), but he’s goofy enough to make a great everyman, too. Plus, there’s the fact that half the funny bits in this red-band trailer for the movie aren’t in the theatrical release – but director David Wain has promised there’s a director’s cut that’s wildly different and likely ten times funnier. Which means Rudd’s mirror conversation is probably crazier.


2. “Wet Hot American Summer” (2001)

Rudd is so likable, we even like him as a douchebag. In Wain’s ridiculously brilliant satire of summer camp and all ‘80s movies about summer camp, Rudd plays Andy, an absolutely obnoxious, self-centered and ruthless jerkwad lifeguard who cheats on his girlfriend and whose cooler-than-thou attitude is hilarious in its stupidity. Not to mention all the kids who apparently drown on his watch. Few movies allow themselves to be this mean to children, but Rudd’s game for it, and everyone needs to see this movie.


3. “Anchorman” (2004)

“They call me the Bri-man. I’m the stylish one of the group. I know what you’re asking yourself, and the answer is yes, I have a nickname for my penis. It’s called The Octagon, but I also nicknamed my testes. My left one is James Westphal, and my right one is Dr. Kenneth Noisewater. You ladies play your cards right, you just might get to meet the whole gang.” – Brian Fantana, Field Reporter for the Channel 4 News Team. Of course, 60% of the time, it works every time, but 40% of the time, you smell like Bigfoot’s dick.


4. “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (2005)

Rudd’s just playing your average joe in Judd Apatow’s breakthrough comedy hit with all the ‘you know how I know you’re gay’ malarkey, but it’s the undercurrent of deep-rooted psychoses that splashes all over him when he meets Mindy Kaling, the ex-girlfriend he’s been pseudo-stalking, at the speed-dating event and his heartbroken obsession swallows him up that makes us love how nuts this guy is. He’s just this dude you know who gets way too into the girls he dates, and you’ve got to teach him how to chill. He’s pretty, but he ain’t perfect. But he knows you’re gay.


5. “The Ten” (2007)

More David Wain action, this one a compilation of short stories based on each of the Ten Commandments, with Rudd serving initially as the host and narrator for the interstitials, before we suddenly lose all pretense of that and just watch his life fall apart as he’s torn between his wife Famke Janssen and the allure of the young nubile Jessica Alba. A brilliant and crazy comedy that makes us realize we love Paul Rudd even when he’s being an adulterer. That’s charm writ large.

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Don’t F*ck with Jon Hamm

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Just in case it’s not obvious to anyone and everyone who has ever watched Mad Men, let’s be clear: Don’t fuck with Jon Hamm. When the actor stopped by Comedy Bang! Bang! on Friday he hammered that point home via a story he told Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts on the set of our new talk show. Watch the clip below and you’ll know that if you even think about fucking with Jon Hamm he will unleash his now surely legendary double bird style on your ass and you will rue the day you were born. What’s double-bird style? Think the crane kick in “The Karate Kid” or the Crane from “Kung Fu Panda” or something less violent but equally awesome. Whatever you’re thinking of: It’s more awesome. This is Jon Hamm after all, the man who can sing a song about taxis or do the robot and still look cool, so if Jon Hamm is mad at you, you know he’s going to look good doing it.

Watch this clip and tune in to Comedy Bang! Bang! on Friday at 10/9c for more awesomeness:

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Want the latest news from Comedy Bang! Bang!? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter@comedybangbang and use the hashtag #cbbtv.

Comedy Bang! Bang! airs on IFC on Fridays at 10/9c

Bunk’s Tom Lennon goes Dutch

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Have you ever walked into a diner, sat in a pleather booth, rested your plastic-covered menu on the formica table top and wondered how in the heck they came up with the names of their dishes? What is a “Moon Over My Hammy” and what does it have to do with breakfast? These questions have stumped diner-goers for generations until now. On Friday’s episode of Bunk, comedian contestants Tom Lennon, Nicole Parker, and Chris Gethard were asked to play a lightning fast round of “Lingo It.” In that game the comic minds were asked to give classic diner dishes some fancy new names. Based on the results, it’s clear that Moons over My Hammy isn’t nearly as weird as it could be. Also, Tom Lennon shows us how to own a mistake like a professional.

Watch this clip and be sure to tun in to Bunk on Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET to see what happens next:

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Want the latest news from Bunk? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter@ifcbunk and use the hashtag #bunk.

Bunk airs on IFC on Fridays at 10:30/9:30c

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