Program Details

Great Comedy is Serious Stuff: Eight Truly Fun Films

Kurt F. Stone
Movies / Comedy
Video Catch-up

Course Description

According to Hollywood myth, a few moments before John Barrymore died, his brother Lionel asked him, "Jack: is dying difficult?" Brother John's response? "Dying is easy, Lionel; it's comedy that's difficult." Although the story is likely apocryphal, it nonetheless is true: making great comedy is terribly difficult. Perhaps that is why most comedic films don't age all that well; what was laughable in 1935 or '45, '65, or even five years ago just isn't all that funny today. Then there are those few comedic gems which stand the test of time. Come view eight films that are just as funny as the day they were released.


  1. "Seven Chances(1925): Buster Keaton will inherit a fortune if he marries in a single day.
  2. "Dr. Strangelove" (1964): Peter Sellers. An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust.
  3. "Monty Python & the Holy Grail(1975): King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table embark on a search for the Holy Grail.
  4. "Modern Times" (1936): Charlie Chaplin’s tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society.
  5. "A New Leaf" (1971) Walter Matthau. A comedy about marriage and murder.
  6. "What's Up Doc?" (1975) Barbara Streisand. Modern slapstick at its best.
  7. "Safety Last(1923): Harold Lloyd in his most famous "thrill" comedy.
  8. "The Big Lebowski"(1998): The Coen Brothers breakthrough comedy. An absolute howl!

About the Instructor

  • Kurt F. Stone, D.D., is now in his 24th year with Lifelong Learning. His passion for film is, he says, "genetic," having been born in Hollywood, CA, and raised both in and around the movie industry. Stone is a multi-disciplinary sort of man who has also written two well-received books on Congress, published nearly 900 essays, is an ordained rabbi, and earns his living as a medical ethicist.


    Recipient of the 2004 Excellence in Teaching Award