AFI’s 100 funniest American movies
LOS ANGELES — Something about men in women's clothing obviously tickles people's funny bones: "Some Like It Hot" and "Tootsie" came in at Nos. 1 and 2 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 funniest American movies.
"Some Like It Hot," Billy Wilder's 1959 classic starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe, topped the list announced Tuesday on a CBS television special. Lemmon and Curtis play musicians who witness a mob massacre and dress up as women to hide out with an all-girl band.
Sydney Pollack's "Tootsie," starring Dustin Hoffman as a down-and-out actor who finds soap-opera success masquerading as a woman, came in second, as determined by about 1,800 actors, directors, studio executives, critics and others in the movie industry.
Voters chose their funniest movies from a list of 500 nominees compiled by the institute.
It was the institute's third annual list. Two years ago, the group released the 100 best American films, topped by "Citizen Kane," and last year the institute ranked the top 50 screen legends, led by Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.
"This time out, funny films leapt to the fore," said Bob Gazzale, producer of the institute's TV special. "These films make us laugh, they got us through the Great Depression, but they really haven't gotten the recognition they deserve."
Allen was the director with the most films included, with "Annie Hall" and four others: "Manhattan" at No. 46, "Take the Money and Run" at No. 66," "Bananas" at No. 69 and "Sleeper" at No. 80.
Besides "Some Like It Hot," Wilder also wrote or directed four other movies on the list. The Marx Brothers also had four others in the top 100.
Charlie Chaplin had four movies, with "The Gold Rush" ranked highest at No. 25. George Cukor and Preston Sturges also directed four. The top-ranked silent film was Buster Keaton's "The General" at No. 18.
Two other cross-dressing comedies made the list, "Mrs. Doubtfire" at No. 67 and "Victor/Victoria" at No. 76.
"It's nice to be nominated. I would be unhappy if I didn't make a few people laugh," said "Victor/Victoria" director Blake Edwards, whose "A Shot in the Dark" also was No. 48. "But I'm just a little bit leery of lists. It's not sour grapes that I wasn't No. 1 or anything like that, though it'll probably sound like sour grapes.
"It's just very subjective. I have the same problem, frankly, with the Academy Awards. Jack Lemmon once said, 'How can you really judge a performance unless all five nominees play the same part?' "
The newest film on the list was the Farrelly Brothers' "There's Something About Mary" from 1998, which ranked 27th. Only four other movies from the 1990s made the cut, but the 1980s were the best-represented decade with 22 pictures, including "A Fish Called Wanda" at No. 21, "When Harry Met Sally . . . " at No. 23 and "Ghostbusters" at No. 28. Film critic Leonard Maltin said that the list was weighted too much toward recent movies and that comedy classics by Sturges and Chaplin should have been ranked higher.
"In large part these lists turn out to be a celebration of ignorance," Maltin said. "I don't think I'm a voice in the wilderness when I say there's a possibility Charlie Chaplin is a better filmmaker than the Farrelly Brothers."