The 40 grrrrreatest comedy films ever!

by drystyx | created - 17 Jul 2011 | updated - 17 Jul 2011 | Public

Everything goes in comedy. There are no rules, just what makes you laugh, and what makes you laugh hardest. After all, this is comedy, and it isn't really harder than dying.

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1. Room Service (1938)

Approved | 78 min | Comedy

A penniless theatrical producer must outwit the hotel efficiency expert trying to evict him from his room, while securing a backer for his new play.

Director: William A. Seiter | Stars: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Lucille Ball

Votes: 4,092

This is non stop laughter, the best (the Marx Brothers) at their best, and that's saying a lot. In this one, the show must go on, no matter who dies in the process.

2. At the Circus (1939)

Not Rated | 87 min | Comedy, Musical

The Marx Brothers try to help the owner of a circus recover some stolen funds before he finds himself out of a job.

Director: Edward Buzzell | Stars: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Kenny Baker

Votes: 4,881

Non stop hilarity and gags. It will never be known how many people literally laughed themselves to death watching Groucho save a circus.

3. The Inspector General (1949)

Approved | 102 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

A town's corrupt officials think a fool is actually an investigator in disguise.

Director: Henry Koster | Stars: Danny Kaye, Walter Slezak, Barbara Bates, Elsa Lanchester

Votes: 2,643

Danny Kaye may have been the all around most talented performer ever in major films. He's great as a bumbler who gets mistaken for a mighty man.

4. Father Goose (1964)

Approved | 118 min | Adventure, Comedy, Romance

During World War II, a man persuaded to live on an isolated island and spot aircraft finds himself responsible for a teacher and several students, all female.

Director: Ralph Nelson | Stars: Cary Grant, Leslie Caron, Trevor Howard, Jack Good

Votes: 8,286 | Gross: $12.50M

This is hilarious, and we get a breathtaking beauty to look at while we laugh. Humor comes from many angles here, particularly from the three leads as Trevor cajoles Cary into becoming a reluctant patriot.

5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

PG | 91 min | Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

93 Metascore

King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table embark on a surreal, low-budget search for the Holy Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles.

Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones | Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam

Votes: 434,485 | Gross: $1.23M

Anything for a laugh. This is the true story of King Arthur and his holy hand grenade.

6. Blazing Saddles (1974)

R | 93 min | Comedy, Western

73 Metascore

In order to ruin a western town, a corrupt politician appoints a black Sheriff, who promptly becomes his most formidable adversary.

Director: Mel Brooks | Stars: Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Slim Pickens, Harvey Korman

Votes: 108,901 | Gross: $119.50M

Rock Ridge gets law and order against an evil land snatcher. Vaudeville style non stop comedy that would make the Marx Brothers proud. In essence, Mel Brooks does play a Groucho character, and Gene Wilder is a speaking Harpo.

7. A Night at the Opera (1935)

Not Rated | 96 min | Comedy, Music, Musical

A sly business manager and two wacky friends of two opera singers help them achieve success while humiliating their stuffy and snobbish enemies.

Directors: Sam Wood, Edmund Goulding | Stars: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Kitty Carlisle

Votes: 27,326

More zany hilarity from the Marx Brothers as they save an opera singer's career.

8. The Court Jester (1955)

Approved | 101 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family

A hapless carnival performer masquerades as the court jester as part of a plot against an evil ruler who has overthrown the rightful king.

Directors: Melvin Frank, Norman Panama | Stars: Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury

Votes: 10,036

Spectacle and jokes, as Danny Kaye fumbles around in the Middle Ages to save a kingdom from evil.

9. National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

R | 98 min | Adventure, Comedy

60 Metascore

The Griswold family's cross-country drive to the Walley World theme park proves to be much more arduous than they ever anticipated.

Director: Harold Ramis | Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Imogene Coca, Randy Quaid

Votes: 81,045 | Gross: $61.40M

Modern day vacation for the Griswalds (Chevy Chase as the father), which not only shows stumbling blocks many of us have experienced, but also does it in perfect vaudeville style comedy.

10. The Smiling Ghost (1941)

Passed | 71 min | Comedy, Mystery

An heiress seems to be cursed as each of her intended grooms meets with a horrible end.

Director: Lewis Seiler | Stars: Wayne Morris, Brenda Marshall, Alexis Smith, Alan Hale

Votes: 457

The Smiling Ghost is killing a young maiden's suitors, and so an uninformed bungler is hired to be her next one. Best of the haunted house comedies by far.

11. Sorrowful Jones (1949)

88 min | Comedy, Drama

A young girl is left with the notoriously cheap Sorrowful Jones as a marker for a bet. When her father doesn't return, he learns that taking care of a child interferes with his ... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Lanfield | Stars: Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, William Demarest, Bruce Cabot

Votes: 490

Hope can make rehearsed lines seem like he just made them up. The girl is the cuddliest of the Miss Markers, and this standard story of a bookie who is stuck with a little girl for a marker is always hilarious.

12. It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)

Approved | 116 min | Comedy, Music, Romance

A homeless New Yorker moves into a mansion and along the way he gathers friends to live in the house with him. Before he knows it, he is living with the actual home owners.

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: Don DeFore, Ann Harding, Charles Ruggles, Victor Moore

Votes: 2,519

Charm and humor as a bum inhabits a tycoon's mansion while he takes his annual Christmas vacation.

13. Airplane! (1980)

PG | 88 min | Comedy

78 Metascore

A man afraid to fly must ensure that a plane lands safely after the pilots become sick.

Directors: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker | Stars: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Votes: 180,486 | Gross: $83.40M

Can the unselfish heroes and heroines save a plane from crashing? Surely, you can't be serious.

14. The Princess and the Pirate (1944)

Approved | 94 min | Adventure, Comedy, Romance

Princess Margaret is travelling incognito to elope with her true love instead of marrying the man her father has betrothed her to. On the high seas, her ship is attacked by pirates who know... See full summary »

Directors: David Butler, Sidney Lanfield | Stars: Bob Hope, Virginia Mayo, Walter Brennan, Walter Slezak

Votes: 1,512

Bob Hope plays a vaudeville performer who has to sail away from anwhere he performs, but he saves a princess from pirates with the help of Walter Brennan, who is half of a half wit, yet still outsmarts Hope.

15. A Day at the Races (1937)

Not Rated | 111 min | Comedy, Musical, Sport

A veterinarian posing as a doctor and a race-horse owner and his friends struggle to help keep a sanitarium open with the help of a misfit race-horse.

Director: Sam Wood | Stars: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Allan Jones

Votes: 11,567

A Sanitarium is a good place for Groucho, Chico, and Harpo to think about horses. Great scenes make this a laugh riot.

16. Horse Feathers (1932)

Not Rated | 68 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley University, accidentally hires bumblers Baravelli and Pinky to help his school win the big football game against the rival Darwin University.

Director: Norman Z. McLeod | Stars: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, The Marx Brothers

Votes: 10,333

College sports and antics are just a front for great gags by the Marx Brothers.

17. Cat Ballou (1965)

Not Rated | 97 min | Comedy, Romance, Western

A woman seeking revenge for her murdered father hires a famous gunman, but he's very different from what she expects.

Director: Elliot Silverstein | Stars: Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, Michael Callan, Dwayne Hickman

Votes: 11,648 | Gross: $20.67M

This is hilarious enough before Lee Marvin's famous drunken gunfighter enters, and after that it will make you roll on the floor with laughter.

18. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Not Rated | 118 min | Comedy, Crime, Thriller

A drama critic learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs, and that insanity runs in his family.

Director: Frank Capra | Stars: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Jack Carson

Votes: 59,149

This is one of the mainstay comedies done by most schools, and guaranteed for laughs because of the great writing, so when you add superstars like Cary Grant and Peter Lorre into it, you won't be disappointed.

19. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)

Approved | 110 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

A clumsy daydreamer gets caught up in a sinister conspiracy.

Director: Norman Z. McLeod | Stars: Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Boris Karloff, Fay Bainter

Votes: 4,975

Danny Kaye again, as the short story is expanded to show the meek everyday man's dreams, but in this movie, it is mixed with reality. Kaye's perfromance makes this a classic.

20. Brazil (1985)

R | 132 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

88 Metascore

A bureaucrat, in a retro-future world, tries to correct an administrative error, and becomes an enemy of the state.

Director: Terry Gilliam | Stars: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond

Votes: 167,793 | Gross: $9.93M

The remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but done with a definite "style", and truer to the Kaye film than the short story. We enter a fantastic fantasy world which combines humor with spectacle and splendor.

21. National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)

PG-13 | 95 min | Adventure, Comedy

47 Metascore

The Griswolds win a vacation tour across Europe where the usual havoc ensues.

Director: Amy Heckerling | Stars: Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Dana Hill, Jason Lively

Votes: 48,621 | Gross: $49.40M

This sequel about a family vacation to Europe doesn't disappoint. There's enough fresh material to make it different, while we still get to laugh at the charming naivette of the man who thinks he knows it all.

22. My Favorite Brunette (1947)

Approved | 87 min | Comedy, Crime, Mystery

Shortly before his execution on the death row in San Quentin, amateur sleuth and baby photographer Ronnie Jackson, tells reporters how he got there.

Director: Elliott Nugent | Stars: Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney Jr.

Votes: 2,453

Hope tries his hand at being a gumshoe, film noir meets vaudeville, but he winds up on Death Row, and a great finale as a heartless executioner is about to throw the switch

23. The Paleface (1948)

Approved | 91 min | Comedy, Family, Western

Calamity Jane is despatched to find out who's smuggling rifles to the Indians, and winds up married to a hapless correspondence school dentist as part of her cover.

Director: Norman Z. McLeod | Stars: Bob Hope, Jane Russell, Robert Armstrong, Iris Adrian

Votes: 3,127

Bob Hope experiences the Wild West West. Who wins this match up?

24. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

PG-13 | 95 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

59 Metascore

Dr. Evil is back and has invented a new time machine that allows him to go back to the 1960s and steal Austin Powers' mojo, inadvertently leaving him "shagless".

Director: Jay Roach | Stars: Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner

Votes: 195,799 | Gross: $206.04M

Meyers is perhaps the closest we come to a modern day Danny Kaye, and he doesn't disappoint in his depiction of what James Bond is really like.

25. The Front Page (1974)

PG | 105 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

As a tabloid newspaper editor tries to prevent his top reporter from retiring, an escaped death row convict shows up at the office trying to convey his innocence.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Susan Sarandon, Vincent Gardenia

Votes: 10,321 | Gross: $17.30M

The screenplay is a standard that guarantees success. Mattheau and Lemmon give it that extra punch. Hilarious story of heartless reporters covering a prison break

26. Little Miss Marker (1934)

Passed | 80 min | Comedy, Drama, Family

Little Martha Jane, aka Little Miss Marker (Temple) is left with the bookmaker Sorrowful Jones by her dad as part of a bet on a horserace. Sorrowful (Menjou) and his group of fellow bookies... See full summary »

Director: Alexander Hall | Stars: Adolphe Menjou, Dorothy Dell, Charles Bickford, Shirley Temple

Votes: 1,044

If you can't catch Sorrowful with Hope, Ball, and Cabot, you can still enjoy this version. The story is a standard, as a bookie is saddled with a girl for a marker, and this one is hilarious, too.

27. His Girl Friday (1940)

Not Rated | 92 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart

Votes: 45,885

Likewise, the other Front Page story has charm, too. Great script.

28. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

PG-13 | 94 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

62 Metascore

Upon learning that his father has been kidnapped, Austin Powers must travel to 1975 and defeat the aptly named villain Goldmember, who is working with Dr. Evil.

Director: Jay Roach | Stars: Mike Myers, Beyoncé, Seth Green, Michael York

Votes: 176,304 | Gross: $213.31M

The sequel to the James Bond style super spy's story and his nemesis has lots of great gags.

29. My Favorite Blonde (1942)

Passed | 78 min | Comedy

Karen Bentley, an English secret agent, links up with Larry Haines and his star penguin Percy in an attempt to outwit German spies.

Director: Sidney Lanfield | Stars: Bob Hope, Madeleine Carroll, Gale Sondergaard, George Zucco

Votes: 1,003

Give Bob Hope a script, and he makes it look like improv. A comic genius.

30. ¡Three Amigos! (1986)

PG | 104 min | Comedy, Western

52 Metascore

Three actors accept an invitation to a Mexican village to perform their onscreen bandit fighter roles, unaware that it is the real thing.

Director: John Landis | Stars: Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Alfonso Arau

Votes: 59,324 | Gross: $39.25M

One of the best to come out of the old Saturday Nigh Live ensemble, though you don't hear about it much. Three singing cowboys save a Mexican village from bandidos. We don't care if it's predictable, so long as it's fun. And this is fun.

31. History of the World: Part I (1981)

R | 92 min | Comedy, History

Mel Brooks brings his one-of-a-kind comic touch to the history of mankind covering events from the Old Testament to the French Revolution in a series of episodic comedy vignettes.

Director: Mel Brooks | Stars: Mel Brooks, Gregory Hines, Dom DeLuise, Madeline Kahn

Votes: 40,636 | Gross: $31.67M

Mel Brooks does a vaudevill style History of mankind, but mostly deals with ancient Rome and the French Revolution, and he needs a miracle to save him from trouble.

32. The Pink Panther (1963)

Not Rated | 115 min | Comedy, Crime, Romance

55 Metascore

The bumbling Inspector Clouseau travels to Rome to catch a notorious jewel thief known as "The Phantom" before he conducts his most daring heist yet: a princess' priceless diamond with one slight imperfection, known as "The Pink Panther".

Director: Blake Edwards | Stars: David Niven, Peter Sellers, Robert Wagner, Capucine

Votes: 42,400 | Gross: $10.88M

The story of a bungling inspector and a master thief is only funny because the performances, directing, and film crew are masterful. I wouldn't advise amateurs trying to make this work. It works because Sellers is a pro.

33. Babes in Toyland (1934)

Passed | 77 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Opposing the evil Barnaby, Ollie Dee and Stanley Dum try and fail to pay-off Mother Peep's mortgage and mislead his attempts to marry Little Bo. Enraged, Barnaby's boogeymen are set on Toyland.

Directors: Gus Meins, Charley Rogers | Stars: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Virginia Karns, Charlotte Henry

Votes: 5,086

Best of the Laurel and Hardy films, because they are the backdrop, and the backdrop is the main part in most films. They help save a magical land from an evil doer.

34. Jack and the Beanstalk (1952)

Approved | 70 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Abbott & Costello's version of the famous fairy tale, about a young boy who trades the family cow for magic beans.

Director: Jean Yarbrough | Stars: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Dorothy Ford, Buddy Baer

Votes: 2,416

Lots of good visuals here as Abbott and Costellos meet the giant. In most of their movies, Abbott's sadistic cruelty to Lou was way overboard, but here it is tolerable enough to allow some humor.

35. Three O'Clock High (1987)

PG-13 | 101 min | Comedy

36 Metascore

A nerd gets himself in hot water with the new bully, a quiet bad boy who challenges him to fight on the grounds of their high school after the day's end.

Director: Phil Joanou | Stars: Casey Siemaszko, Annie Ryan, Richard Tyson, Stacey Glick

Votes: 9,293 | Gross: $3.69M

Hard to classify this as either "comedy" or "drama", as it makes sort of a combination in a mystical world, much like "Brazil", but the situations are definitely humorous as a young boy feels like High Noon is coming when a maniac tough kid threatens to douse his lights at closing time.

36. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)

Approved | 99 min | Comedy, Musical

A wily slave must unite a virgin courtesan and his young smitten master to earn his freedom.

Director: Richard Lester | Stars: Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Buster Keaton, Michael Crawford

Votes: 7,343

Lots of laughs with great comedians. You probably won't remember a lot, but you'll laugh as Zero Mostel tries to obtain freedom in this sowrd and sandals affair.

37. Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)

PG | 85 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi

48 Metascore

A faulty computer causes a passenger space shuttle to head straight for the Sun. Can Ted Striker save the day and get the shuttle back on track - again?

Director: Ken Finkleman | Stars: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Lloyd Bridges, Raymond Burr

Votes: 42,351 | Gross: $27.15M

Again, brave men and women must save an air disaster. Just enough fresh parodies to make this sequel work.

38. The Man with One Red Shoe (1985)

PG | 92 min | Comedy, Thriller

A man picked randomly out of a crowd is made the target of CIA survelliance and pursuit.

Director: Stan Dragoti | Stars: Tom Hanks, Lori Singer, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning

Votes: 13,170 | Gross: $8.60M

Spy thriller, a parody of Hitchcock, but it is funny. This does work.

39. The President's Analyst (1967)

Not Rated | 103 min | Comedy, Sci-Fi, Thriller

When the overworked and stressed-out White House presidential shrink runs away, the CEA and the FBR scramble to retrieve him before he could be abducted by various competing foreign intelligence services.

Director: Theodore J. Flicker | Stars: James Coburn, Godfrey Cambridge, Severn Darden, Joan Delaney

Votes: 2,702

I know I'm into real humor, but to placate the dry wit crowd, the crowd that doesn't like to laugh, but wants something with wit, I think of this film, the cult classic for the generation just before mine, those born 1950-1955. This is their cult classic, their baby. A psychiatrist for the president goes on a bizarre odyssey, beset by a parody of the factions of the day.

40. A Night in Casablanca (1946)

Passed | 85 min | Comedy

The Marx Brothers are employed at a hotel in postwar Casablanca, where a ring of Nazis is trying to recover a cache of stolen treasure.

Director: Archie Mayo | Stars: Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Charles Drake

Votes: 5,199

The Marx brothers deal with nazis as only they can. Hilarious.