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“Make ‘Em Laugh": A History of Movie Comedy from Charlie Chaplin to Mel Brooks

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0342
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This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Publicity photo from Charlie Chaplin's 1921 movie The Kid (Public domain/Wikipedia)

Since the beginning of motion pictures, making audiences laugh has been one of the film industry’s chief box office attractions. Skilled acrobatic comedians like Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Charlie Chaplin were enormously popular in the silent era; so were their more verbally dexterous talking picture successors the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields.

Comedy exploded once movies could talk, from screwball to romance to social satire to musicals, and in recent decades dozens of new variations have appeared, from over-the-top dark comedy to gross-out teen comedy. Media historian Brian Rose looks at major highlights of screen comedy over the last 125 years, illustrated with more than 40 examples from Hollywood’s funniest films.

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