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February 26, 2024, 10:41:05 AM

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Best comedy of 1974?

Started by Lapsedcat, January 30, 2024, 11:54:31 AM

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It's 50 years ago, let's start a list.

Films, TV, albums, books etc

Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein obvs. Oh No It's Selwyn Froggitt? Porterhouse Blue?



Very strong year for British telly - 1974 was the debut for Rising Damp, Porridge and Roobarb. The Goodies, Flying Circus and Steptoe and Son were still going. Plus your trad stuff like Dad's Army, Benny Hill, Are You Being Served etc.

M*A*S*H would have been on its third season, I think, which is a strong one (last one with Trapper and Henry), although much of the rest of what Wikipedia shows me about US TV at the time looks dire - the Waltons, the Brady Bunch, that kinda thing.

dissolute ocelot

Lots of unintentionally funny films: Deathwish, Towering Inferno, Earthquake, The Trial of Billy Jack, Zardoz.

The Longest Yard got the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical for 1974, beating The Front Page, Harry and Tonto, The Little Prince, and The Three Musketeers!?!!???

Other comedy-related films: For Pete's Sake, Lenny, Herbie Rides Again...


Bob Newhart had a TV show (Newhart) in 1974 but from what I've seen it wasn't a patch on his solo routines. So not that.

Yeah Mel Brooks had quite the year, didn't he?

Anyone seen this Johnny Speight joint from 74? Looks... challenging


Ahem... this interview was in 1974, only months before the sudden shot in the arm that was Return of the Pink Panther


Quote from: neveragain on January 30, 2024, 11:56:20 AMGolden Age of Ballooning?

Despite containing a couple of duds, I'd still reckon the fourth season of MPFC would have been a highlight of that year's comedy on British TV.

Sebastian Cobb

Dark Star and Female Trouble when it comes to films as well.


Tony Yeboah

Richard Pryor's album: That *cough*'s Crazy


Quote from: extraordinary walnuts on January 30, 2024, 01:04:32 PMYeah Mel Brooks had quite the year, didn't he?

Anyone seen this Johnny Speight joint from 74? Looks... challenging

Yes and the earlier 1968 version; I think this one is the stronger, partly due to the abstract setting suiting the play's absurdism. However, I believe that the one you posted is actually the third television adaptation - the first was made for Dutch TV in 1965, the same year as the original stage play.

Regarding your comment about it looking challenging, this play, like earlier ones by Speight, is firmly in the Theatre of the Absurd camp; arguably, it will be inherently challenging. It's worth noting that Speight's plays quickly gained him as a new and very exciting talent and that Michael Caine credits his involvement in these to be a turning point in his own career.

Speight wrote The Compartment, a short play about middle-class businessman terrorised by a stranger, acting increasingly erratically. When the BBC picked it up, Peter Sellers was attached but Caine got cast instead. The reception to the play led to Caine getting a new agent, who was instrumental in turning Caine into a film star. Caine never forgot this and has always been very public in his appreciation for the role. Caine would also star in another Speight BBC play, Playmates, which again was very well received. Both plays have been wiped by the BBC (natch) but we do have the recording of the pair adapted into a single work with Marty Feldman in the Caine role(s); Feldman is suitably disturbing and menancing, but it's such a shame we can't see the originals.

Caine got on very well with Speight, they socialised together and the writer got him a rather nice cameo on the hit, The Arthur Haynes Show. The role of Mike on Till Death Us Do Part was also intended for him, but Caine's sudden escalation to film star after his supporting role in Zulu kiboshed that. One of those interesting 'what ifs....'

Three of Speight's plays (If There Weren't Any Blacks You'd Have To Invent Them, The Compartment and The Knacker's Yard) are published as a collection and are worth reading.

Privilege, Peter Watkin's first feature-length film that he made after The War Game, is also worth a look at. Although Speight wasn't involved in the script, it was adapted from one of his stories


Quote from: Vodkafone on January 30, 2024, 12:51:02 PMBob Newhart had a TV show (Newhart) in 1974 but from what I've seen it wasn't a patch on his solo routines. So not that.

The series, Newhart, started in the early 1980s.  The Bob Newhart Show was an earlier sitcom, in the 1970s, which I suspect is the one you're thinking of. Although it was overshadowed by the Mary Tyler Moore series, The Bob Newhart Show was a very influential sitcom and played well to Newhart's strengths.

Fair enough if you prefer his stand-up, but for me it's not a like for like comparison. Also, Newhart's act was influenced by Al Read's routines,  (the Driving Instructor being an obvious example) and that's something always plays in my mind when I listen to a fair bit of Newhart; I still very much enjoy it, but it does affect my enjoyment. Although some, like Graham McCann suggest the two had an informal arrangement, others (such on one Read documentary) claim there was a more business-like deal.


Pretty much my starter kit for dark comedy at 8y old.

Also a personal honorary mention for this Mad Magazine affiliated 1974 issue of Plop comic that I purchased at the time on a caravan holiday in East Sussex.