Five Favorite Films with Harry Shearer
The comedian and radio host also talks to us about his Katrina documentary.
If Harry Shearer isn't a household name, he really should be. The well-rounded entertainer has focused his talents on film, on radio, in music, and on television, among others. Among his many credits are roles in This is Spinal Tap, Saturday Night Live, and The Simpsons, for which he voices such popular characters as Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, and Principal Skinner. This evening (Monday, August 30th), Shearer's latest directorial project, The Big Uneasy, a documentary about the truth behind the New Orleans catastrophe during Hurricane Katrina, engages a special one-night screening in theaters across the country on the five-year anniversary of the tragedy. Shearer was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to give his Five Favorite Films and talk about his film. Read on for the full interview!
I'll start with Dr. Strangelove
. The best satirical movie ever made. Has some amazingly funny performances. When you see Peter Sellers at his best, that's about as good as you can get, and it's a brilliantly written, brilliantly directed dissection of the military industrial state.
To Be or Not to Be
, Ernst Lubitsch's World War II movie. To make a comedy about World War II in the middle of World War II is major league balls, and he pulls it off brilliantly. It's Jack Benny and Carole Lombard. It's her last film; she's amazingly funny. And Benny does this great trick of playing the character in the film and yet getting laughs off what you know about the Jack Benny character from out of the movie, without ever disrupting the flow of the story. Just a brilliant movie. Really well worth studying for how to direct a serious comedy about a serious subject, and yet be really funny.
Singin' in the Rain
. Just the best musical film ever made and one of the funniest movies about Hollywood ever made.
Laurel & Hardy Films
Any Laurel & Hardy feature. My wife and I took a couple of Laurel & Hardy features over to a friend's house in Fiji, out in the middle of nowhere, and he's friends with the kids in the neighboring village. And these 8-10 year-old Fijian kids came in and watched Laurel & Hardy and laughed their heads off. It travels through time and space.
This is one that will never be in the list of really great movies, but there's so many really good comedy performances in it, and it's a comedy museum by itself of performers of this certain era and how great they were. It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World
. My favorite thing about It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World
, which was, in its original release, pretty f***ing long, is that at least one of the versions that came out on home video, they released it with 20 extra minutes. So that would be It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World
. You have to add an extra "Mad" to it.
Next, Shearer talks about why he made his documentary and what it's about.