Producer Ken Julian has spent his life in the film industry, serving as executive producer for both TV and film projects, including “The Appointment.” Although he’s best known for dramatic projects, Ken confessed that comedy is his favorite genre. So we asked him for his picks for five underrated classic comedies, and here’s what he had to say.
- “Wizard of Oz” (1939).
It’s not just that it has one of the greatest musical scores of all time, but the entire story is a hilarious send-up of the old fairy stories. It was made in 1939, and at that time, I’m sure people didn’t realize how funny it really was. The fact that Judy Garland was only sixteen years old while performing such an iconic character is mind-boggling. I think everyone must have seen it at least once in their childhood, and now as an adult, you appreciate it.
- “It Happened One Night” (1934).
This was the first time audiences saw a man chase a girl through a field, jump on top of her and kiss her. It was incredibly sexy stuff back in 1934, but now it just seems so innocent. Clark Gable is somebody you want to be with because he’s an unpretentious guy who wants nothing more than to earn enough money to get married and settle down with Claudette Colbert. The scene where he gives her the key to his safety deposit box is charming.
- “Bringing Up Baby” (1938).
There’s something so endearing about Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. They’re both a bit on the eccentric side, and there are these two people who just don’t seem to fit in with everyone else. There’s a lovely scene in the film where Grant is at a dinner party, and then he uses his umbrella to put himself into the overhead closet after stuffing all the food onto himself, so he’s not hungry anymore. So he gets up there and bangs on the ceiling with his hand saying, “I know you’re up there, I know you’re up there,” while everyone else is in the room looking at him like he’s crazy.
- “Modern Times” (1936).
Charlie Chaplin always played someone who was a victim of society, and it got to the point where he was actually branded as a communist because that’s how much people love his characters. In this one, he’s a factory worker who gets put into prison for getting involved with all the other workers in a strike and is trying to eat food from his pocket while everyone watches him. Then he winds up escaping from jail in a very funny way at the end.
- “The Gold Rush” (1925).
Most people are not aware of this now, but it was the first talking picture with sound. I don’t know how they did it because he’s shouting in a forest, and there is so much echo that you can barely make out what he’s saying. He plays a gold miner who lives in the woods by himself, except for the girl he’s in love with, who, of course, is the daughter of a big-time tycoon. He tries to win her over with his dance routines, and there’s one scene where they’re dancing together on top of a table that still breaks people up.