When you have too little free time
1 A Salute to Friz Freleng (1949-58, Warner, unrated)
He’s the cartoon director who specialized in Tweety versus Sylvester and Bugs Bunny versus Yosemite Sam, and here he shines in eight mini-masterworks. They only last seven minutes apiece, but they’re jammed with enough split-second double-take timing to keep you chuckling for hours.
2 New York Stories (1989, Touchstone, PG)
Forget tales two and three (from Francis Coppola and Woody Allen) and savor Martin Scorsese’s ”Life Lessons,” about a painter (Nick Nolte) and his girlfriend (Rosanna Arquette). It runs 44 minutes, but it captures the pain of a whole life lived in thrall to art.
3 Footlight Parade (1933, MGM/UA, unrated)
This meticulously choreographed Busby Berkeley musical is ideal for those with itchy fast-forward fingers: You’d be crazy not to zip past all those awful expository dialogue scenes to the dance numbers, especially Jimmy Cagney’s tireless hoofing in the finale.
4 Duck Soup (1933, MCA/Universal, unrated)
In 70 minutes, the Marx Brothers divide, insult, and conquer a country. If even that’s too long a furlough from life, rent Hannah and Her Sisters, find the 97-minute mark, and catch Woody Allen’s tribute to Soup’s healing powers.
5 The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (1978, Pacific Arts, unrated)
Sample any of the note-perfect Beatle-song parodies in this mockumentary and you’ve caught the inspired groove. And the whole career-spoofing, Brit-accented ride only lasts 78 rippingly funny minutes.
By Jason Cochran, Steve Daly, Glenn Kenny, Lois Alter Mark, Chris Nashawaty, Tim Purtell, Michael Sauter, and J.R. Taylor