Screengrab: The Week of the Big Chuckle


Richard Lutz says the tv is filled with some classic film comedies this week.

There is no doubt that Nicholas Cage, that on again off again Hollywood star, can make you laugh. Not at some of his over the top musclebound turkeys. But quite simply as a good screen comedian.

Two are on the box this week: Peggy Sue Got Married (Tues; Ch4, 1.40AM) ) and Raising Arizona (Thur; Sky Movies Indie, 08.00 ). Both are directed by two of the best directors in the game.

The former has Francis Ford Coppola behind the camera and he had his nephew (yep, Mr Cage is kin) to play Charlie Bodell a tired washed out car salesman whose wife (played to the hilt by Kathleen Turner) goes back in time to re-meet Cage as the young man she fell in love with.

Cage captures those zany goofy dumb loveable teenaged years. He is dumbly blindly desperately in love with the Turner character. But, unfortunately, more in love with being a teenager. He plays it stoopid  and almost every line is helped by his innocent puppy dog eyes.

A year later, he was being directed by the incomparable  Coen Brothers in Raising Arizona. Again he plays it dumb as he and his wife (Holly Hunter) kidnap a baby to start a family. Cage  does good dumb and everytime he opens his ‘aw shucks’ trailer trash mouth, he gets (and deserves) a movie theatre laugh.

Other great Cage comic roles, in case you’re interested and want to Lovefilm or Netflix them are Red Rock West where he does cowboy noir as he gets twisted around the finger of a femme fatale and Wild At Heart (directed by David Lynch) where he is blinded by love and the riot of life as Sailor Ripley. The final scene where Sailor walks over cars to find his beloved (played by Laura Dern) is a riotous scene that is hard to forget.

Laughs of a different breed in The Valley of the Gwangi. (Tues; More4, 11.35) It is one of my favourite shlock scifi classics. It goes something like this: a cowboy captures a T-Rex( yes, a fu@>>+**  dinosaur) and sells it to a Mexican circus. Saved, almost, by stop action master Harry Harryhausen’s genius, it is risible, ridiculous, amazingly moronic and great fun if you’re stuck for something to do on an (inevitably) rainy afternoon. I first saw it with my  sons when they were little and it took years, eons, decades, to shake them out of the misconception that all that cowboys did was round up dinosaurs for a living.

Gregory’s Girl (Wed; ITV3, 21.00) makes a happy re-appearance. Bill Forsyth is master at light comedy and should never have left the UK shores for Hollywood where he disappeared without a trace after some clunkers.  It is a slight tale of a Scottish lad who fancies the best footie star on the school team- a young blonde-  who can, literally, dribble rings around the fellas. A must see.

End the week with another chuckle: Money Business (Fri; Film4, 16.55) when Carey Grant, Ginger Rogers and a young Marilyn Monroe make with the laughs over  Grant’s daffy  attempt to make an elixir for eternal youth. Grant’s role turned out to be the model for Ryan O’Neil’s vacant classic professor role in What’s Up Doc a couple of decades later.