Funny business on tap for Greensboro Cinema and Film Appreciation Group

by Mark Burger

Comedy is serious business. There’s a wonderful adage “Dying is easy, comedy is hard” — although it’s never been entirely clear who coined the phrase. Edmund

Gwenn? Edmund Kean? Donald Wolfit?

No matter. It’s a great quote. Comedy is king in the ongoing Laughter in the Dark Film Series, which is being presented by the Greensboro Cinema and Film Appreciation Meetup Group. Each week, the group will gather to watch classic big-screen comedies and discuss funny business.

The group will meet every Monday night through Aug. 6 except April 9 and 16, and May 28. A half-hour “meet-and-greet” will take place at 6:30 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. screening time. After the film, audience members are encouraged to participate in an informal discussion regarding it.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the group will screen Preston Sturges’ classic screwball black comedy Unfaithfully Yours (1948) starring Rex Harrison and Linda Darnell, next Monday.

Feb. 20: Miriam Hopkins, Herbert Marshall and Kay Francis star in Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise (1932).

Feb. 27: Jean Renoir’s 1932 social satire Boudu Saved from Drowning, which was remade more than 50 years later as Down and Out in Beverly Hills.

March 5: Director Robert Hamer’s award-winning adaptation of Kind Hearts and Coronets, starring Dennis Price as an avaricious man who schemes to claim an inheritance by bumping off the eight family members ahead of him — all of them played by Alec Guinness in a legendary comedic turn.

March 12: Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960), which won five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration and Best Editing) and earned an additional five nominations: Best Actor (Jack Lemmon), Best Actress (Shirley MacLaine), Best Supporting Actor (Jack Kruschen), Best Cinematography (black and white) and Best Editing.

March 19: Stanley Kubrick’s classic Cold War comedy Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), which earned four Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor (Peter Sellers, playing three roles).

March 26: Paul Mazursky’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), starring Robert Culp, Natalie Wood, Elliott Gould and Dyan Cannon in the title roles. Four Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Gould), Best Supporting Actress (Cannon), Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

Following Spring Break, the series resumes April 16 with the underappreciated 1971 black comedy Little Murders, adapted from Jules Feiffer’s play and marking actor Alan Arkin’s feature directorial debut. A top cast includes Elliott Gould (who also produced), Marcia Rodd, Vincent Gardenia, Donald Sutherland, Lou Jacobi and Arkin.

April 23: Peter Sellers stars in I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968), scripted by Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker.

May 7: Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon star in Hal Ashby’s cult classic Harold and Maude (1971).

May 14: Hal Ashby’s Shampoo (1975), starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn, Lee Grant, Jack Warden and Carrie Fisher (in her film debut). Grant won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actress, with additional nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Warden), Best Original Screenplay (Beatty and Robert Towne) and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration.

May 21: Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979).

June 4: Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis star in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy (1983).

June 11: Martin Scorsese’s After Hours (1985) featuring an all-star cast including Griffin Dunne (who also produced), Rosanna Arquette, Verna Bloom, John Heard, Cheech & Chong (as Neil and Pepe), Teri Garr and Catherine O’Hara.

June 18: Woody Allen’s Sleeper (1973). June 25: Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), which earned Academy Award nominations for Allen’s direction and original screenplay, and for Martin Landau as Best Supporting Actor.

July 2: Woody Allen scored another Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay in 1997’s Deconstructing Harry.

July 9: Albert Brooks’ feature-film breakthrough Real Life (1979).

July 16: Albert Brooks strikes again with Modern Romance (1981).

July 23: A hat trick for Albert Brooks, with 1985’s Lost in America.

July 30: Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s outrageous 2004 “puppet epic” Team America: World Police.

Aug. 6: The series concludes with Edgar Wright’s cop comedy Hot Fuzz (2007).

Screenings take place at The Greensboro School of Creativity, 900 16th St., Greensboro. Admission is free with any donation to The Greensboro School of Creativity. For more information, call 336.337.1488 or check out the group’s official website: Greensboro-Cinema-and-Film-Appreciation-Meetup-Group/ or Facebook page: