Cinema: The Return of Comedy as King

Baby mirth and bawdy Murphy strike box-office gold

If Hollywood moguls had a New Year's wish, it would be that every week was Christmas. This season, box-office cash registers have been ringing like sleigh bells, to push the 1987 theatrical take toward a record $4.2 billion, up 11% from 1986. Even more encouraging for industry executives was the return of a species that had looked endangered throughout the year: the comedy.

Flashback. From New Year's Day until Thanksgiving, not a single old- fashioned feel-good comedy was to be found among the ten top-grossing films released in 1987. Audiences seemed to take more pleasure in the spectacle of people and...

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