Now That's Comedy

What's so funny about an oilman, a rancher, a golfer, and a carnival hobo? Watch the following top ten funniest Texas movies to find out why these main characters (and others) are so hilarious.

1. The Wheeler Dealers (1963): A smart comedic take on familiar stereotypes, starring James Garner as a charming Texas oilman on the make in New York City. Side plot about his oil-patch pals trying to corner the market on Abstract Expressionist paintings is especially witty.

2. A Texas Steer (1927): Story about a Texas cattle rancher named Maverick Brander (Will Rogers), who hails from Red Dog, Texas, where men are men and the plumbing is improving. When Brander gets elected to Congress, his Texas virtue is put to the test by cutthroat Washington politicians.

3. Tin Cup (1996): Amiable romantic comedy featuring Kevin Costner as a feckless professional golfer who operates a dilapidated driving range somewhere in Far West Texas. Armadillos, drunkenness, drawls, and a U.S. Open played in Kingwood, near Houston, round out the Texas ambience.

4. Texas Across the River (1966): A Dean Martin cowboy romp with rat packer Jewish comedian Joey Bishop playing an Indian sidekick named Kronk. Every time Bishop is on screen, you laugh.

5. Piranha (1978): Before John Sayles became a "serious film artist," he wrote this B-level spoof of horror flicks with a Texas setting (San Marcos) about a species of killer fish being developed for . . . aw, who cares.

6. Middle Age Crazy (1980): In one of his milder psychotic roles, Bruce Dern is a Houston real estate developer who turns into an urban cowboy, dates a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, and ignores his perfectly beautiful wife at home, Ann-Margret.

7. Texasville (1990): In this sequel to The Last Picture Show, the melancholy authenticity of high school life gives way to intermittent shenanigans and longueurs based on Larry McMurtry's look at Texas bourgeoisie in the oil-bust years.

8. The Big Show (1936): Gene Autry is his usual likeable chubby self in this spoof of Hollywood studios shot, in part, at the State Fair grounds in Dallas during the Centennial celebration.

9. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982): Dolly Parton, who has the effect of impervious ground cover, whoops it up with Burt Reynolds, but Charles Durning's turn as the governor of Texas steals most of the yuks.

10. Texas Carnival (1951): Lamebrain dude ranch opus about a carnival hobo (Red Skelton) who is mistaken for a Texas cattle baron. Strictly for Skelton fans, if there are any out there.

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