MOVIE COMEDIANS OF THE 1950S REVIEWED
“Movie Comedians of the 1950s” isn’t the kind of material that is going to grab every reader. However, it asks that those who pick up the book understand history and its relation to entertainment. Analyzing the Post WWII and Eisenhower Administration environments to understand how films changed is quite important. Especially, as it tracks the evolution of the American and eventual International comedy. America remained rather unscathed from direct soil conflict, so we had a chance to recover emotionally before our international friends. What did this mean for us?
Much time is spent covering the emerging sexuality of comedy and Charlie Chaplin getting shoved out of the country. While a ton of this material is sad, it’s amazing to see how an artform evolved in a decade’s time. I’m a huge Frank Tashlin fan, so I enjoyed having an entire chapter dedicated to the man’s work during this time. Still, there’s enough here to revisit and produce a Tashlin dedicated novel. My only real complaint for the book is that it’s far shorter than I expected. It could be teaching material for a May Term course, but that’s about it.
- Wes D. Gehring
- 212 pages
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!
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The Plot Thus Far
The 1950s were a transitional period for film comedians. The artistic suppression of the McCarthy era and the advent of television often resulted in a dumbing down of motion pictures. Cartoonist-turned-director Frank Tashlin contributed a funny but cartoonish effect through his work with comedians like Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope. A new vanguard of comedians appeared without stock comic garb or make-up–fresh faces not easily pigeonholed as merely comedians, such as Tony Randall, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Some traditional comedians, like Charlie Chaplin, Red Skelton and Danny Kaye, continued their shtick, though with some evident tweaking. This book provides insight into a misunderstood decade of film history with an examination of the “personality comedians.” The talents of Dean Martin and Bob Hope are reappraised and the “dumb blonde” stereotype, as applied to Judy Holliday and Marilyn Monroe, is deconstructed.