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Straight Man / Live-Action Films

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Examples of the Straight Man from live action films.

  • Marx Brothers:
    • Margaret Dumont, the classic foil for the Marx Brothers, especially Groucho. Her characters were often derided as stuffy and humorless, but that's exactly the point: consider the amount of discipline and professionalism it would take to share a screen with Groucho Marx in full form and never once corpsing.
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    • Zeppo Marx himself was a straight man for his brothers, as he had a non-comedic stage persona, but all the requisite timing and skill. After Zeppo's departure, other actors (such as Allan Jones in A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races) would take the role.
  • Star Wars: C-3P0 acts as this to R2-D2, while also providing the audience of some idea of just what is being said by his otherwise unintelligible friend.
  • The Three Stooges:
    • Larry, since his style of humor was often to merely react to the extreme characterizations of Moe and Curly (and later Shemp).
    • It is probably more accurate to say that the miscellaneous guest actors in the shorts constituted the straight men, who (like the supporting characters in Marx Bros. films) are there to act appalled at the comedians' antics.
  • Withnail & I: In a less obviously comedic example, Paul McGann as Marwood/"I" plays a pitch-perfect straight man to Richard E. Grant (Withnail), grounding his manic performance in a solid emotional reality; the film wouldn't work nearly as well as it does without him.


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