The Great Race (1965)
Director Blake Edwards’s epic comedy about a New York–to–Paris automobile race stars Tony Curtis as a dashing daredevil, Natalie Wood as a feminist journalist, and Jack Lemmon in a dual role as a mustache-twirling villain and a foppish crown prince. This homage to slapstick silent comedies includes the most magnificent pie fight ever captured on film.
What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal are both gorgeous and hilarious in this campy screwball comedy about matching suitcases, government secrets, and musicologists. Madeline Kahn made a spectacular screen debut as an uptight fiancée, and the streets of San Francisco provide a glorious backdrop for the film’s uproarious chase scene.
Auntie Mame (1958)
Rosalind Russell re-creates her Broadway role as the madcap, iconoclastic Auntie Mame, who’s been a favorite of gay fans ever since gay writer Patrick Dennis introduced her in his 1955 novel. Her signature catchphrase is sanitized for the film, but purists know that it’s “Life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death!”
Some Like It Hot (1959)
This cross-dressing sex farce (cowritten and directed by the brilliant Billy Wilder) was rightly named the Funniest Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are broke musicians on the run from the mob who disguise themselves as “Josephine” and “Daphne” and take off with an all-girl band — with a sumptuous vocalist, played by Marilyn Monroe. Curtis disguises himself as a tycoon to woo Monroe, Lemmon’s “Daphne” is wooed by a lecherous tycoon (Joe E. Brown), and as the mob bears down on them, the complications reach sublimely comic heights. Curtis, Lemmon, and Monroe give the greatest comic performances of their careers.
YOUR TURN: Which of these camp classic comedies are your favorites — and which ones would you add to this list? Share them in the comments section below.