Movie lovers like Ronald Phillips New York abound in their praise of comedies. They consider them the most enjoyable of all movies, and indeed many people’s favorite genre. In fact, according to a survey done by the American Film Institute in 1997, comedies are considered America’s “most beloved” film genre.
There have been so many excellent comedy films made over the decades that it is almost impossible to narrow the list down to only ten. Most of the comedies that made it onto this list are classics, while several others were chosen because they broke new ground in either comedic technique or subject matter and did so brilliantly.
Many of these titles will be recognized by almost anyone, but a few lesser-known comedies on this list deserve admiration for their entertaining qualities. So whether you are looking to laugh out loud or just want to appreciate some solid filmmaking, hopefully, there is something here for everyone’s taste.
1) Some Like it Hot (1959, Billy Wilder)
Suit-and-tie wearing musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), hiding from Chicago gangsters, join an all-female band headed to Miami. They must dress like women because the group’s other members are Josephine (Marilyn Monroe in her signature role) and “Daphne,” who is really the male Sugar Kane (Joe disguised as a woman). As Joe and Jerry’s feelings for each other begin to grow in this strange and increasingly awkward situation, they must continue to hide their true identities from Josephine and Daphne.
2) Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964, Stanley Kubrick)
The doomsday comedy Dr. Strangelove was directed by one of America’s greatest filmmakers, Stanley Kubrick. It stars Peter Sellers in three roles that brilliantly satirize Cold War fears about nuclear annihilation during the early 1960s. The late George C. Scott is also brilliant as General Buck Turgidson, who tries to engage an unhinged President Merkin Muffley (played wonderfully by Sellers again) into a plan to attack Russia with nuclear weapons before it is too late.
3) Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, Terry Gilliam/Terry Jones)
Monty Python’s Flying Circus (which had also provided certain members of Monty Python with their first writing jobs, including Terry Jones and Michael Palin) ran on British television from 1969 to 1974. Similar in style to the Marx Brothers, the unpredictable sketches were filled with off-the-wall humor meant to make people laugh rather than provide any sort of political or social commentary. The Holy Grail marked the troupe’s first feature film, which was funded partially by former Beatle George Harrison through his company, Handmade Films.
4) Annie Hall (1977, Woody Allen)
Woody Allen’s career constantly crosses into different genres that range from drama to mystery. However, he has achieved his greatest success in making intelligent comedies yet still feature scenes that can make viewers laugh out loud. Annie Hall, which won four Academy Awards in 1978, was his most critically and commercially successful picture for a reason: it is his best and funniest film.
5) Airplane! (1980, Jim Abrahams/David Zucker/Jerry Zucker)
The fact that none of the actors or actresses in Airplane! are taking the story seriously makes the film even funnier than if they were all delivering their lines perfectly straight to the camera. The cast members include such comedic legends as Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves, Robert Stack, and Lloyd Bridges.
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