In these divisive times, it is important to focus on just about anything else. In keeping with Whitney’s inspirational post from yesterday, I thought I would start another new feature on here, Fangirly Icons. Whitney and I are never short on awesomely amazing ladies who we look up to, so this should be no problem for us.
For this first foray, I wanted to highlight my literal favorite of all time, Madeline Kahn. I recently did a binge of every Madeline Kahn movie I own and was again reminded of how amazingly talented she was and how little credit she seems to get for the groundbreaking work that she was doing as female comedic talent of the time. She was doing broad, over-the-top comedy that still came off as understated and nuanced, doing silly comedy in an intelligent way. She was able to be loud and brassy (Blazing Saddles), nagging and conservative (What’s Up, Doc?), reserved and disturbed (Clue), and cultured and refined, with a touch of animalistic (Young Frankenstein). She was often a featured player in her movie roles, most notably in her run of Mel Brooks movies, but no matter the size of her role, she always stood out.
As a little girl watching these movies, I always loved seeing this beautiful, seemingly-sophisticated lady be just as silly (if not sillier) than the guys. A woman who was described by all who knew her as shy and reserved, making jokes about “sausages” and “poo poo undies”. She delivered dirty jokes with a graceful, knowing arched brow that seemed to dare the viewer to try and scorn her for it. To that point, Madeline Kahn was once quoted as saying, “It’s acceptable for men to act the fool. When women try, they’re considered aggressive and opinionated.”
It has only been within the past 10 years or so that people have finally begun discussing this phenomenon and we as a public are still working on recognizing that yes, women CAN be as funny as men. In this humble writer’s opinion, Madeline Kahn was being funnier than men 50 years ago.
Tell me if we were the only kids who did this: Whenever I visited my cousins (or visa versa) growing up we would always do this thing when we watched movies together. Either prior to starting the movie or at the very beginning, we would pick a character to “be”, so if someone is a character who later gets slapped, we’d say things like, “That looks like that would hurt”. Or if someone’s character is somewhat risque, we would call each other “naughty” or “a bad girl”. Keep in mind that we were young and innocent, so our vocabulary of more scathing remarks was limited.
Our favorite movie to watch together had to be Clue because we watched it close to every time that we visited each other. My cousins and I would fight over who got to be Ms. Scarlet or even Yvette the maid, because we were impressionable little girls growing up believing that it was more desirable to be the more attractive option. However, as we grew older and wiser, I believe that our choices became more informed. There’s only so many options in that movie, so one of us would still end up being Ms. Scarlet, but instead we were fighting over Mrs. White because we had begun to recognize the comedic genius of Madeline Khan (“it-it- the f – it -flam – flames. Flames, on the side of my face, breathing-breathl- heaving breaths. Heaving breaths… Heathing…” Best. Ever).
As I have matured, it dawns on me that this is one of those perfect movies to grow up watching. The slapstick will be funny to all ages. But as you get older, you begin to understand more of the zippy one-liners and “adult” humor that went over your head as a child. It also occurs to me that when watching movies you loved as a child, it is difficult to re-visit them without being biased and tell your grown-up colleagues that they are truly as great as you remember them. Now, I fully believe that Clue is as great as 9-year old me thought that it was because I still get the same enjoyment out of it that I did back then. The performances here are genius and I pick up on new jokes that I had either never previously heard or “gotten”.
I just love this movie and it warms the cockles of my heart every time I watch it.
Did/do you love Clue, too? If you do, did you know that Psych is doing a reunion episode for it’s 100th episode? Yeah. You could say I’m excited about that. If you have some free time, check out the video I found of someone’s top 25 moments of the movie. (SPOILERS!)