Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Remembering Madeline Kahn

Occasionally I'll look through my 'labels' in the internal machinery of this blog and think "my god! I never talk about [insert actor's name here]. Why? What's wrong with me?!?" Yesterday was such a day. The great Madeline Kahn would have celebrated her 67th birthday had she not left us far too soon, ten years ago in fact. Sniffle.

"Here I stand the goddess of desire, set men on fire... I have this power.
Morning, noon and night it's drink and dancing, some quick romancing...
And then a shower."


Team Experience
So, with fond memories of the genius comedienne on my mind, I asked a couple of my guest bloggers to tell me they're favorite Madeline Kahn moments. I need help you see. Obviously I haven't expressed enough love for her right here on my own. The damning evidence: No label before today.

Jose from Movies Kick Ass perked right up at the mention of her name:
Even if she was Oscar nominated two years in a row (for two comedies! One made by Mel Brooks!) my favorite thing Kahn did was her uptight, annoying Eunice in Peter Bogdanovich's What's Up Doc? Her exchanges with Babs are terrific and how she kept a straight face is miraculous. When she has gone through all the screwball hell Streisand subjects her to-including mistaken identity- it's priceless to hear her declare "I am not "A" Eunice Burns, I am "THE" Eunice Burns!" Only she could make disdain so funny and even lovable.

Everyone falls in love with Barbra Streisand in that movie. You're not supposed to root for Madeline Kahn's character but you simply can't go against her.
Glenn from Stale Popcorn starts down a familiar path and switches course
Is it too cliched if I say "Flames... on the side of my face," from Clue? It probably is, isn't it? However, if I truly must choose something that not every blogger in the known universe as quoted at some time or another, then I will go with Kahn's performance in History of the World: Part I. Her Empress Nympho is almost (repeat: ALMOST) as quotable as her Mrs White. If I had to choose just one moment though it would be her hilarious reading of "MY TITS ARE FALLING OFF!"

Kahn
had such a way with line delivery, didn't she? I haven't seen it, but I'm sure she even got a few choice lines in when she did voice work in My Little Pony: The Movie. Oh yes, I'm sure she did!
Oh please, Glenn. You totally own that DVD. ;)

For my part, I always claim that my favorite Kahn lady is "Trixie Delight" in Paper Moon. Come to think of it, I bet Kahn's filmography rivals anyone's as character names go. Think about it: Eunice Burns, Empress Nympho, Lola Hopper, Lili Von Schtupp, Victoria Brisbane, Mrs. White, El Sleazo Patron, Estie Del Ruth, Trixie Delight. You need a fearlessly big talent to create characters worth of those monikers.



So, I always say it's my favorite but the competition is stiff and in truth I haven't seen Paper Moon since I was, like, 15. It's definitely time to revisit.

Paper Moon
was only Kahn's second feature film but it brought her the first of two consecutive Oscar nominations. She lost to her co-star Tatum O'Neal, the lead who was slumming in the supporting category since she was only 10 at the time. O'Neal remains the youngest Oscar winner ever and her performance was a thing of natural beauty. But history-wise it still makes me a little sad for Madeline. Do you think she was jealous?

"I hated her sooo much, it, it the, it, flame, flames, FLAMES on
the side of my face, breathing, breath...heaving breaths, heaving"

What's your favorite Madeline Kahn performance?
And have you, like so many of us, quoted "flames... ", more times than you can count?
*

28 comments:

MrJeffery said...

I love her in Clue.

Ortzi said...

She was fantastic in both "Young Frankenstein" and "Blazing Saddles", two Mel Brooks comedies released in the same year (one is great, the other is greatish).

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I can vaguely remember Paper Moon and What's Up Doc...but Clue was something special. So good it was bad...or just good? I don't know. But i liked the movie an I liked her in it.

Today is Deborah Kerr's birthday? Are you a fan?

Deborah said...

It's Trixie Delight for me. I cannot tell you how many times I've said "That woman has a bladder the size of a peanut!" Okay, not Madeline's line, but BWAH!

The actual Madeline I quote the most is from Young Frankenstein. I believe I have quoted every single line she's spoken in that movie. "Darling! Hair!"

Alison Flynn said...

OMG, I love her so much. It's hard to pick a favorite because she was just so amazing in everything she did.

I love her run with Mel Brooks, in particular Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. Such a funny, beautiful, talented lady.

She died much too soon. :(

adelutza said...

Right now I can only remember her in What's Up, Doc? and that's just because it was mentioned. It was a great performace though, and the film is very, very funny. Sadly, I have not seen Clue but it's on my Netflix queue as we speak.

Univarn said...

I'll have to admit I haven't seen nearly as many Madeline Khan films as I wish, or even should.The sappy drinking song with the nazis at the end of Blazing Saddles was priceless.

mripley said...

mrs white in clue,do you think she should've been nommed for an oscar nat.

billybil said...

OH MY GOD I loved her so very much! In everything! I did love WHAT'S UP DOC but her work in BLAZING SADDLES and YOUNG FRANKESTEIN and, yes, PAPER MOON, was so wonderful!!! She was a truly unqiue and marvelous talent and I miss her so much! And just think what fun she'd be having in this new, outrageous level of comedy we're seeing nowadays!!! And, of course, she's another fantastic character commedienne who never got the big dramatic role she would have knocked right out of the park!! Even clowning she so often came close to breaking your heart! I truly adored her and consider her one of my all-time favorites.

alguien said...

her final performance in "judy berlin" was very touching but i'm rather partial to eunice burns as well.

Cal said...

Clue is an amazing film, and the entire ensemble is wonderful, so it'll have to be that.

I liked her more in Paper Moon than in Saddles but the fact that she was nominated for both must have meant that she had a lot of fans. A charismatic woman.

The Jaded Armchair Reviewer said...

She really should have been nominated four years in a row for "What's Up, Doc?", "Paper Moon", "Young Frankenstein" and "Blazing Saddles" (if only they had been released separate years.

One of my favorite line readings of hers from "What's Up, Doc?":

"DoN't yOu kNoW the MeANinG of ProPriETY?!"

Ryan said...

The scene you included from Paper Moon is one of my favorites of hers. I think I like Trixie Delight the best too!

Ryan said...

By the way, have you ever seen De Duva, a short that parodies Bergman? It features an early Madeline Khan too. I love it.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3803584387889303730#

par3182 said...

without a doubt, eunice burns

shoulda been nominated, shoulda won

brandz said...

without a doubt, madeline kahn was (still is?) the best comedic actress over the past 30 years or so. no one even comes close. her performance in Young Frankenstein was brilliant! i miss her so...

Billy D said...

"VIRGINS...put on your no-entry signs!"

Wayne B. said...

Yeah I have to go with Mrs. White so many great laugh out loud quotes.

"Flies are where men are most vulnerable."

Mason Mahoney said...

The flames quote from Clue came up in conversation today! God, I love Clue...

Morgan said...

I think I my favorite Khan quote (second to "Clue") is "Fuck that shit. I almost fell" from "History of the World". I don't even think it was part of the script. That shit gets funnier every time I see it.

Richard said...

She is my favorite entertainer of all time.

What's Up Doc: "They tried to molest me."

Blazing Saddles: "It's twue! It's twue!"

Young Frankenstein: "...socks and poopoo undies..."

History of the World: "Ah, but the servant waits, while the master baits."

Clue: "He wasn't a very good illusionist."

Y Kant Goran Rite said...

In guttural pretend-singing Dietrich voice:
"I'm.. ti-red... tired of bring admi-i-red... [switches to New-Yawk accent] God damn it, I'm ex-haw-sted!"

In fact, her entire cameo in Blazing Saddles is also my answer to your other question - which scene from which movie made me laugh till the pain in the stomach was unbearable and yet I wanted more of it.

Bing147 said...

LOVE her underrated work in High Anxiety, not Brooks' finest hour but its good and she owns every scene she's in. Harvey Korman is also great in it.

Sean said...

Another great actor that Hollywood couldn't do justice. "Mixed Nuts" with Steve Martin was just awful. The only highlight being Ms. Kahn. Rest in Peace Empress Nympho - you are missed.

Scott said...

Love her in everything, but if I had to pick just one it'd be Eunice Burns.

As to her characters' names, how many names did she have in The Cheap Detective anyway?

Sam said...

I just watched What's Up Doc again last night. I got together with several friends for champagne, pizza and Madeline. Everybody was at the top of their game in that movie but she was unforgettable. And she got the rich guy at the end!

Linda said...

The look on her face and her one word, an exhaled "woof" ....... when viewing Frankenstein's "manly glory" in Young Frankenstein.

Linda

Gabs said...

Aww, I just came across this. with today being the actual 10 year anniversary of her death, I was looking for some memorial posts (and coming up sadly lacking.) Thank you for this!

My favorite Madeline performances are High Anxiety, Clue, and... everything else she did? I really just adore her and it still hurts my heart that she's gone.