If ever there is fodder for the most brutal comedy, it’s war. From Laurel & Hardy’s “Flying Deuces” to the upcoming “Four Lions,” Tinsel Town has used comedy as a pointed weapon to stick it to the military.
What’s actually amazing is while the list of war satires is relatively slim; they seem to bring out the best of La La Land’s creative community. Just look at the honorable mentions list below. Still, if you really want to expose combat at its comedic best, you can’t go wrong with these five:
1) “Doctor Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb” (1964) – Stanley Kubrick was never afraid to take pot shots at war. In his films “Barry Lyndon” and “Full Metal Jacket,” he did his share to shove the bayonet in deep and twist. Still, his absolute tour de force was this rampant piece of paranoia, starring the incredible Peter Sellers (in three roles!), George C. Scott and James Earl Jones. The final scene of Slim Pickens riding a nuclear bomb down on the then USSR is one of the greatest ever shot in cinematic history.
2) “M*A*S*H” (1970) – Robert Altman’s surgical cinematic slicing of the insanity of war still resonates today. Starring Eliot Gould, Tom Skerrit and Donald Sutherland as three military surgeons drafted into the Korean War, “M*A*S*H” is a slice-of-life rollicking of the insane stunts military personnel would pull to maintain even the slightest bit of their sanity. Yes, it would later spin off into one of the greatest TV series of all time, but if you want the real deal, this is it.
3) “Catch 22” (1970) – Alan Arkin is Captain John Yosarian, who is trying to get out of World War II on an insanity charge. His only problem is the Army is well aware that only a sane man would use this kind of ploy to get out of the service; only the criminally insane would love watching all his friends going home in body bags day after day. Today it stands as a masterful take on military logic and the entire bureaucratic process.
4) “The Great Dictator” (1940) – Charlie Chaplin’s first speaking role, one of the greatest comedians of all time takes an uncanny turn as dictator Adenoid Hynkel, a straight up parody of Adolf Hitler. When a Jewish barber is accidently mistaken for Hynkel, the ominous warnings regarding Hitler’s true agenda comes to fore. The American public wasn’t ready for this movie when it debuted. They woke up a year later with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
5) “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) – Quentin Tarantino joins the ranks of satiric Valhalla with this total overhaul of an Italian B-movie rip off of “The Dirty Dozen.” Brad Pitt’s over-the-top Lt. Aldo Raine stands the like of John Wayne and Gary Cooper on their heads as his Basterds decimate the Nazis right up to Hitler himself. Even better is Tarantino’s movie within a movie tricks, staging almost all the ultraviolence within a movie theater.
Honorable mentions: The Marx Brothers’ “Duck Soup” (1933); Laurel & Hardy’s “Flying Deuces” (1940) and “Great Guns” (1941); Abbott & Costello’s “Buck Privates” (1941), Martin & Lewis’ “At War With The Army” (1950); “The Mouse That Roared” (1959) with Peter Sellers and “The Men Who Stare At Goats” (2009) with Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Kevin Space and Ewan McGregor…and the goat.
*Note: This was written by an Associated Content contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own movie articles.