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Jackie Gleason is one of the greatest talents in the history of
American show business. His comic takes and blowhard act has produced
so many professional and amateur imitators that none even has to
question who or what you are imitating. Art Carney is one of America's
greatest character actors. He created the greatest side-kick anyone
ever had, a character with so many quirks you could probably build a
show around him. Together they make one of the greatest comedy teams
But what makes this work is Audrey Meadows as Alice. When the Honeymooners first began, Ralph's wife was played by Pert Kelton, a battle ax of an actress who is just the kind of wife Ralph Cramden would wind up with in real life. The original skits were really comic 'fly on the wall' looks at the arguments the loudest neighbors in the neighborhood keep having. They were amusing enough to keep the skits going but there wasn't enough of a counterpoint to Ralph. His battles with Alice resembled Ralph's later battles with Alice's mother, (which Kelton came back, more appropriately, to play in the 60's series).
When Gleason moved to CBS in 1952, Kelton was unavailable for health reasons and Gleason had to find a new Alice. Audrey Meadows, a glamour girl who worked with all the top comedians of television's golden era, decided she wanted the job. The now-famous story is that Jackie turned her down because he couldn't picture Meadows as Ralph Kramden's proletarian wife. Audrey had a friend photograph her in her kitchen just after she woke up and had the photo sent to Jackie, who immediately declared the woman in the picture to be 'his Alice' and demanded to know who the actress was. When he found out, Audrey had the job and 'The Honeymooners' became a TV classic.
Meadows offered something Kelton didn't: a CONTRAST to Ralph, rather than a fellow gladiator. She was not only attractive, (if not allowed to be glamorous), but she was intelligent and non-abrasive, even if she had the strength to stand up to Ralph and give as good as she got in the battles. More than that, it became obvious why Ralph was such a dreamer and a blowhard. How did a guy like him ever get a woman like Alice to love him and marry him?
He spends all his time either promoting himself and trying to be 'The King of the Castle' or scheming to become rich and important. It's the only way he knew to be big enough to deserve Alice. What he didn't know is that Alice offered him that rarity, unconditional love. Ralph didn't have to be a 'big man' to please her. He just had to be Ralph. He finds that out at the end of every episode but forgets it again in time for the next show, because if he didn't, they'd have no plot.
Strengthened by this theme, the writes got more and more ambitious and The Honeymooners did stories of increasingly greater length, eventually taking up the whole show. Ralph Cramden became Gleason's most popular character because he was so human. He had much more dimension that Reggie Van Gleason, The Poor Soul, Charley Bratton or Joe the Bartender, as entertaining as they were. This in turn, led to the Classic 39, which became the flagship for the series and kept 'The Honeymooners' alive for decades after most of the Golden Age of Television had faded from memory.
The Honeymooners is a classic comedy from the 1950s. There were only 39 original episodes made. But all 39 were classic gems. Jackie Gleason was hilarious as Ralph Kramden,the hard working, always complaining bus driver & husband of Alice (Audrey Meadows). They both worked very well together. The other couple in the show was Ed Norton (Art Carney) & Trixie Norton(Joyce Randolph). Art Carney was brilliant in this TV show, his personality & mannerisms are some of the funniest ever. A great actor. I don,t have one favorite episode that I can say is the best, they are all great. This is one of the best comedy shows ever made. The laser disc box sets of all 39 episodes are 2 of my best ones in my whole collection. A Must Have!!!
Whether it's one of the classic 39 or one of the lost episodes, I always have a blast when I watch this show. It is one of the best shows ever to grace television. Everyone on the show was hilarious whether it was Ralph as the big mouthed, short tempered husband, Ed as the goofy upstairs neighbor or Alice and Trixie as the wives who always tried to keep them in line. It never fails to make me laugh out loud when I watch this show and I'd recommend it to anyone who needs a good laugh.
In the lower-class section of New York lives the
family: Ralph and wife Alice. Upstairs are their neighbors and
friends Trixie and Ed Norton. Ralph works as a bus driver while Ed
a sewer worker. Alice and Trixie are homemakers. One thing's for
Alice is tough. She would never call Ralph "sir". Whenever Ralph
rant and rave and threaten to punch her to the moon, she isn't
tiniest bit offended.
Ralph and Ed always dabble into "get rich quick" schemes and all of them seem to back fire. Like the one where Alice takes in a dog, unbeknownst to Ralph, who eats a mysterious meat from the refrigerator. Not knowing it's dog food, he tries to market the stuff. Once he finds out it's dog food, he goes ballistic. Or how about the episode where Ralph thinks somebody is stalking him? He sees a painter on the fire escape, and it takes a minute or two to sink in, then he freaks out. Funny!! Remember the one where Alice goes out to get a job and Ralph stays home to tend to the house, due to the bus depot was laying off employees for the week.
The Honeymooners started as a segment on The Jackie Gleason Show, but then became a TV smash-hit! Jackie Gleason plays Ralph Kramden, Art Carney is Ed Norton, Audrey Meadows is Alice and Joyce Randolph is Trixie. Trixie wasn't as major of a character as Ralph, Ed and Alice. She wasn't always in every episode. Sadly, Jackie Gleason is no longer with us, but Carney, Meadows and Randolph are still around, appearing on talk shows, sharing what they remember about The Honeymooners.
In 1960, The Honeymooners inspired The Flintstones! Fred and Barney behave just like Ralph and Norton, whom I think were derivative from Laurel & Hardy, two other very funny guys! Honeymooners begat The Flintstones and The Flinstones, apparently, begat The Simpsons and The Simpsons begat many, many comedies we see today. Honeymooners, much like I Love Lucy and Father Knows Best, will forever live on in reruns, and in our memories.
Memorable quotes: Ralph: "Norton, you're a mental patient!" Norton: "Ralphie boy, you're a nut." Ralph: "Ooh, Alice, one of these days: bang! Zoom! Straight to the moon!"
Money! Money! Money! The accumulation of financial and social resources
was the driving force behind this short lived but great comedy series.
The Honeymooners was the greatest program of television's golden age, better than "I Love Lucy", "Texaco Star Theater", and "Your Show of Shows" . I've seen "I Love Lucy" reruns many times and clips of the other two great programs, and "Jackie Gleason's "Honeymooners" a spin off from his classic variety series is still my favorite.
Gleason's ever popular character Ralph Kramden is one of life's lovable and colorful losers. He's always looking for that get- rich- quick scheme that will pull him as his loving wife Alice (Audrey Meadows) out of the doldrums of East Chauncey Street in Brooklyn, to the Penthouses on Park Avenue. He always means well for himself and his wife Alice, but does foolish things to make a bad situation for him and Alice worse.
During all of his foolish endeavors he recruits his 'ol Pal Norton, as kind of like an insurance policy to subliminally tell Alice, "Hey I wasn't the only fool who thought he could invent No-Cal pizza." Norton (Art Carney) is one goofy dude. He has like a sixth sense when it comes to A) Keeping friendships, B)Doing inappropriate things only to remind Ralph of some of these foolish get rich quick schemes,C)Creating problems for Ralph without knowing what he's doing and D) not saying inappropriate things when the friendship itself is at stake.
Among my favorite episodes when Ralph's get-rich-quick schemes nearly send him and Alice to the moon are "Funny Money", "Better Living Through TV", "Opportunity Knocks, But", "Dial J For Janitor", and the all time classic, "The $99,000 Answer" when Ralph things he's going to win a fortune on a game show. He practices learning music like a madman then falls flat on his face on National TV because he forgot to ask Norton a simple but important question relating to a music writer.
There are also other classic episodes like "TV or Not TV" where Ralph is too frugal to buy Alice a television set, then goes halves with Norton, and eventually becomes obsessed with television. Norton is hilarious during his "Captain Video" monologue.
In "Oh, My Aching Back", Ralph throws his back out bowling, and has to hide the sad fact from Alice that he might fail his employment physical because of it. Hiding Ralph's painful condition from Alice, Norton plays doctor and takes Ralph's temperature. "What's my temperature NORTON!!" exclaims Ralph. "A Hundred and Eleven!!" cries out Norton, not aware that if you put a cigarette lighter to the thermometer it raises the temperature.
In "Please Leave the Premisis", Ralph decides to play hardball with a greedy landlord, and winds up out in the cold. Ralph says he's being brave and defiant like General George Washington, and that there "will be no deserters is his army",meaning he, Alice and Norton have to remain in the cold without utilities. Unfortunately General Cornwallis wins this round over George Washington, and Martha convinces George to pay the rent increase.
Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Art Carney, and Joyce Randolph (as Norton's wife) had great chemistry together, as Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden really took us to the moon.
What is wrong with Ralph Kramden? Objectively speaking, everything!! He is so faulted, why would anyone want to be his friend? Why would any woman want to be his wife? Originally starting off as a variety show skit, one of three on Jackie Gleason's comedy hour, it (the Honeymooners) undeniably became the favorite! The totally Brooklyn venue sort of explained everything! "One of these days Alice!! bang!!! zoom!!" this was a dubious form of humor!! The distinction that Jackie Gleason made was that without having a kid, and thus, there would not be an innocent child who was witnessing abuse, and also, Ralph never actually hitting Alice, the punchline (No pun intended) was fanny!! Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) was the culprit for the lion's share of calamity on this program!! The conclusion to every episode had Ralph seeking some sort of forgiveness from his beyond tolerant and loving wife, Alice!! At first, Audrey Meadows was not considered a suitable fit for the role of Alice Kramden, she was too glamorous and intelligent! Next day for rehearsal, she dressed herself down and got a little boisterous.. The cast and directors loved it, and more importantly, so did the television audience!! Art Carney, was the extremely likable buffoon, Ed Norton, who garnered a charismatic following with the live studio audience he was performing for, as well as anyone who watched "The Honeymooners"!! Carney was a favorite on "The Honeymooners" and contributed to the success of the series tremendously!! Joyce Randolph (Ed Norton's wife, Trixie) had more of a cameo appearance on the show, yet her typically New York disposition spiced the show up, and most episodes which she stared in were considered the better ones!! What was the most significant aspect to "The Honeymooners" was that it evoked a bittersweet end result of human error!! An avalanche of character discrepancies besieged Ralph Kramden's emotional resolve in almost every segment of "The Honeymooners" The most critical aspect to a humorous situation is when the resonating complications to a given situation are completely avoidable!! The peccant plight of Ralph Kramden was always neon accented on this program!! Mistakes are made because people are only human and they make them... Once mistakes are made, all there is really left to do is to laugh!! This is the definition of situation comedy and "The Honeymooners" perpetually depicted such inexcusably inevitable flaws with the Kramdens and the Nortons with a flippant reality!! Such outrageous human atrocities were portrayed far more astutely than perhaps any other of television's attempt at a situation comedy show made before or after "The Honeymooners" aired!! I loved "The Honeymooners", it has an identifiability which puts people's inadequacies in their proper perspectives. Living in a tenement, constantly bickering, making the wrong decisions about money, what little of it that you have, and basically, reducing your life to one big mess are ingredients for total catastrophe!! However, what this show points out time and time again is that all of the characters in this television show have the ability to laugh everything off!! All four of them are not phased by adversity, because they know that all of them love and care for one another!! This was the summon substance of what "The Honeymooners" was all about!! Perhaps the most effective comedy ever to be made... in a denotative sense, relating to situation comedies and their initial purpose for amusing people...without question!! "The Honeymooners" was the best comedy ever made!! The mercurial element to this show made it extremely plausible!! In terms of poignancy issues, and sharp and witty one liners, there are other shows that are better, by and large though, in all aspects of situation comedy, "The Honeymooners" is one of the top ten sitcoms in the history of television!!
This is one of the greatest TV shows of all time. If you have never seen this, you're in for a real treat. Ralph (Jackie Gleason) is a bus driver for the Gotham Bus Company. He lives in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn with his long-suffering wife Alice (Audrey Meadows). His best pal is the sewer worker who lives upstairs, Ed Norton (Art Carney). Ralph is always scheming to make money. His ideas never work. The things I like best about this show is a) the writing -- introduced phrases that are now part of the American language ("To the moon, Alice!" b) the directing -- look what they did with three cameras that never moved! c) the acting, esp. the improvisation when gags failed -- remember, this was live TV! This show was the influence of the cartoon "The Flintstones", plus a couple of generations of every other TV sitcom.
I saw these shows when I was a kid and they were first-run on TV. This show made the working-class Kramden a king in his own castle with Alice as the real power behind the big throne. Archie Bunker and Al Bundy are in the same general pattern, but this was the beginning of all-American worker comedy on TV. Even though the shows are in b&w and look a bit worn, the comedy is still grand.
What a classic comedy and television show....as a kid in the 50s I and my pals and brother and sister and parents would make sure we got the TV turned on at least 5 minutes or so early to watch "The Honeymooners"....could there possibly be a greater acting talent than Jackie Gleason...what role could he not handle....Ralph Kramden, Joe the Bartender, Reginald Van Gleason, the sad soul, and his acting in "The Hustler" with Paul Newman is near genius. He even nearly topped his Ralph Kramden role in the late 70s with Burt Reynolds in "Smokey and the Bandit"....there may never be another comedian like him. My favorite Honeymooners episode is when Ralph is planning to go on a TV show identifying popular and classical songs and has Norton in his apartment on a piano playing lead ins so Ralph can name the song....as a warmup Norton has to play "Suwanee River" to start every new song, much to Ralph's chagrin....guess what? Ralph is asked on the TV show t name that song - "Suwanee River" and cant do it....oh lord, we all laughed so loud at that episode the roof nearly caved in on our house...and the episode when Ralph finds a suitcase full of money on a bus and starts recklessly spending all of it without turning it in....you will split a gut watching that episode too..and then when demanded Alice would sit at the kitchen table and Ralph would start his mamby pamby woe is me facial expressions and try to gesture to Alice with his hand waving....on Lord, this is absolutely comedy at it's absolute best...only other TV comedy that could hold a candle to the Honeymooners was Amos-n-Andy from the early 50s with the Kingfish and Andy Brown. Went to a local store and bought all 39 episodes and tear up watching each one. Sadly today (2008) Joyce Randolph is the only living member of cast...timeless comedy......
The Honeymooners was more than a good show, they were the reason TV was invented. All the other 50's (and some 60's shows) could not surpass the greatness of this sitcom about a couple (Ralph and Alice Kramden played by Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows) living in New York and they're weekley escapades, also including Ralph's friend Norton (Art Carney has never been better) and others. Though it only lasted 39 episodes (plus some lost ones), it is as legendary as the line "Bang zoom, straight to the moon". Entertaining and funny. A++
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