Join us for these curated selections made possible with support from anonymous film fans. Popcorn provided. Free admission on Wide Open Wednesdays courtesy of the Oklahoma Ford Dealers.
Laughing Out Loud: Westerns with a Comic Spirit
Many great Western films feature serious stories, but the comic spirit has always been “out West” as well. This series celebrates what Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Doris Day, Paul Newman and Robert Redford have added to Western cinema. Andrew Horton, the Jeanne H. Smith Professor of Film & Media Studies, Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, and author of 30 books and award-winning screenplays, introduces these selections and leads discussions, with humor, of course!
Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush (1925)
Chaplin claimed this was his best film! It is one he wrote, directed and starred in as a tribute to the Alaskan Gold Rush, as well as the real-life drama of the Donner group in the snowbound Sierra Nevadas. Chaplin combines tragedy and comedy with his traditional tramp character becoming a gold-digger. The Gold Rush was a huge hit throughout the world, blending fantasy, reality and memorable, comic moments. 95 minutes. Rated PG.
Doris Day’s Calamity Jane (1953)
Calamity Jane combines comedy and music with the historic character of Calamity Jane. Acted with lively energy by Doris Day, this Western turns into a romance when she marries the famous Wild Bill Hickok, played by Howard Keel. 101 minutes. PG-13.
George Roy Hill’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Commemorating the film’s 50th anniversary, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid stars Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy, who is full of ideas, and Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid, who is all action and skill. The film, based on the two real members of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, creates memorable laughter as changing times mean they cannot be the outlaws they once were and eventually end up in Bolivia. William Goldman’s clever script and George Roy Hill’s creative directing made this a world-wide success. 110 minutes. PG-13.
Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974)
Mel Brooks has become the master of parody of all genres in his TV shows and films ranging from The Producers (1967) and Young Frankenstein (1974) to Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993). In Blazing Saddles, Brooks creates nonstop humor, farce and slapstick with Oklahoma-born actor Cleavon Little as a black sheriff, along with a drunken deputy played by Gene Wilder. The two are hired by a group of shady characters trying to take over a small Western town through which they hope to run a railroad. 93 minutes. R.