25 Best Comedy Movies of All Time

25 best comedies of all time - meet the parents

Comedy movie is one of the most popular film genres. We all love to laugh at the funny gags and various adventures of the characters. This allows us to look at our own problems with detachment. But which films deserve to be called comedies of all time? Here is our ranking.

Comedies and their brief history

Comedy is one of the oldest film genres. The first funny movie in the history of cinema can already be considered a work of art The Pouring of the Glade, which was included in the list of the first screenings of the Lumiere brothers’ cinematograph in 1898. Over time, the gags were increasingly expanded and combined into an overall plot. The most famous comedians of the silent era of cinema were Max Linder, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. This was a time that was particularly conducive to the development of comedy, since the lack of sound made it possible to use such means of expression as pantomime and situational comedy in the form of funny dynamic chases. This variety of comedy films was called slapstick. There are even opinions that the sound breakthrough irrevocably closed the golden period of comedy, which never fully recovered again.

The 1930s and 1940s saw the development of mainly two types of comedy: the so-called “sophisticated comedy” in the style of Ernst Lubitsch and the “screwball comedy” practiced by such artists as Frank Capra, Howard Hawks or George Cukor. Both conventions deal with love adventures, whereby in the case of sophisticated comedy the ironic portrait of the environment of the wealthy elite, living in elegant interiors and splendor, comes to the fore. In the second case, on the other hand, the plot revolves around a pair of lovers, one of whom most often tries to arouse the jealousy of the other party, resulting in unexpected twists and turns.

At the same time, from the 1930s to the 1950s, the romantic comedy flourished, signed by the names of such directors as Billy Wilder or William Wyler, for example, and acting celebrities – Marilyn Monroe or Audrey Hepburn. Later, on the other hand, comedy dealing with psychological and moral issues came to the fore, with Woody Allen as its great master. Nowadays there is both a renaissance of romantic comedy and hybrids of other types of comedy are emerging.

Best comedies of all time

1. “The Gold Rush”, 1925

the best comedies of all time - the gold rush

Charlie Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” (1925) is undoubtedly one of the best comedies of all time. It was made in the 1920s – the golden age of comedy, during the eruption of silent film masterpieces. The main character of Gold Rush is Charlie Tramp, who travels to Alaska to search for gold. There he meets the beautiful Georgia and falls in love with her without memory.

An incredible series of gags, such as the famous scene of consuming a shoe, funny twists and turns, and great pantomime are the hallmarks of Chaplin’s comedy. However, the film would not bear the marks of a master if it were not for the special lyricism and moving message of the work. For “The Gold Rush” is a piece about the search for happiness, which always remains as elusive as the possibility of a random hobo finding gold.

2. “The General”, 1926

best comedies of all time - the general

Among the best comedies of all time, you certainly have to mention Buster Keaton’s famous “The General”, who was not only the director of the film, but also played the leading role. Here he played a young machinist from the US South, unsuccessfully trying to enlist in the army during the Civil War. Unexpectedly, however, another opportunity for heroic deeds presents itself: when the Yankees hijack the train, Johnny Gray decides without hesitation to retrieve it.

Buster Keaton went down in film history as “the man with the stone face,” for he became famous for developing his own method of comedy, which consists in keeping a serious face in the most amusing or tragic circumstances. Thus, he became a symbol of the human struggle against all odds and with his head held high. Above all, Keaton’s character embodies distance from life’s complications.

3. “Duck Soup”, 1933

best comedy movies - duck soup

Duck Soup” is one of the greatest comedies of all time. Leo McCarey’s film starring the Marx Brothers is an extremely sharp satire on authoritarian power, and more broadly on politics in general. The picture is set in a small country – Freedonia, which is plunged into a deep economic crisis. On the whim of a wealthy woman who promises support, a certain Rufus T. Firlefly becomes president. It soon turns out that the rule of the new leader turns into a cruel dictatorship.

The Marx Brothers’ movie was made during the Great Depression of the 1930s and the period of nascent fascism in Europe. Mussolini, not coincidentally, banned the screening of this comedy in Italy. The film operates with an incredibly cutting wit, parodying and mocking not only totalitarianism and its derivatives, i.e. destructive wars, but actually any kind of government. Hence, the Marx Brothers’ film was read as a manifestation of nihilism. The title itself – “Duck Soup” – is a slang term for some easygoing action or someone gullible.

4. “Ninotchka”, 1939

the funnies movies of all time - ninotchka

Ernst Lubitsch’s “Ninotchka” (1939) is an unforgettable comedy starring Greta Garbo. Interestingly, this was the first and last time the divine Greta appeared in a comedy film, which aroused such excitement among viewers that the work’s main advertising slogan became “Garbo laughs!”. In Ninotchka, the actress played a Soviet agent who arrives in Paris to inspect the activities of insubordinate Soviet spies. Each of them was given the task of stealing the Tsar’s jewels exported to France during the October Revolution, but the charms of the West so deceived them that they decided not to return to Russia. Unexpectedly, the beautiful Ninotchka also falls into the trap of love and must choose between loyalty to Stalin and affection.

“Ninotchka” is a classic item of “sophisticated comedy”. Here we have an open criticism of the Soviet system, which is expressed, for example, in the contrasting juxtaposition of two symbolic cities: gray, depressing Moscow and sunny, cheerful Paris. The European premiere of the film took place after the outbreak of World War II, in October 1939. After the war, however, Ninotchka was banned from screening in the countries of the Soviet sphere of influence.

5. ”Arsenik and Old Lace”, 1944

the best funny movies - arsenic and old lace

Among the comedies of the 1940s, Frank Capra’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1944) is particularly worth recommending. This work belongs to the trend of black comedy. The main characters of the film are two old ladies who invite lonely men to their charming house, and then poison them with arsenic. In turn, they do all this in good faith – they help the poor men find relief from the torments of loneliness. The role of the nephew of the nice aunts was played by the unforgettable Cary Grant.

This ambitious macabre film is an adaptation of the hugely popular 1939 stage play by Joseph Kesselring. The creation of the film was even specifically delayed for two years so that the play could achieve popularity on stage. Interestingly, the first screenings of the work took place in the Pacific among fighting soldiers in 1942, and it was only two years later that the official premiere took place.

6. ”It Happened One Night”, 1934

old comedy movies - it happened one night

This is a classic of the so-called “screwball comedy” based on the scheme of the battle of the sexes, but aiming at a final reconciliation. What’s more, Frank Capra used here the motif of a sham marriage, popular within the genre. The daughter of a millionaire, Ellie Andrews (played by Claudette Colbert) decides to run away from home to protest her father’s annulment of her newly contracted marriage. On the way, she meets eccentric journalist Peter (Clark Gable), who quickly airs a lucrative opportunity to write a sensational article about the girl’s adventures. So, in a mutual interest, they decide to continue their journey, pretending to be married.

Awarded five Oscars, Capra’s famous comedy ”It Happened One Night” provides a look at cultural patterns of femininity and masculinity, and the observations are remarkably apt, especially given that the film was made during the strict Hays Code period.

7. “The Philadelphia Story”, 1940

best comedies - the philadelphia story

And another “crewball comedy” that is on every list of the best comedies of all time. This time there is a theme of remarriage. “The Philadelphia Story” by George Cukor is the story of a woman who, a year after her divorce, decides to remarry. Unexpectedly, however, just before the wedding, her ex-spouse, who still has feelings for Tracy, shows up. The film starred Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

James Stewart won an Oscar for his role as a nosy journalist in the film, while for Katharine Hepburn, her performance in The Philadelphia Story was the beginning of a great career. The actress became a top MGM star after Greta Garbo’s departure.

8. “Some Like It Hot”, 1959

top comedies - some like it hot

Some Like It Hot” (1959) is a great Billy Wilder film starring Marilyn Monroe. Here the star plays the beautiful Sugar Kowalczyk, who, while touring with a girl band, is looking for a wealthy candidate for a husband. Her plans are unexpectedly thwarted by two men, Joe and Jerry, who, disguised as women, become involved in the band while fleeing mob vengeance. Timeless humor, the theme of male-female swapping of roles and the unforgettable Marilyn Monroe – it’s a real explosive mix. The last scene of the film with the famous phrase “Nobody’s perfect” has gone down in cinema history.

This hugely popular comedy began the collaboration of Billy Wilder and Jack Lemonn, who here played the role of a romantic saxophonist. The same actor starred in the director’s next masterpiece, The Salesman.

9. “Eva Wants to Sleep” (“Ewa chce spać”), 1957

greatest comedies - eva wants to sleep

Among good comedies it is impossible not to mention the outstanding positions of Polish cinema. “Eva Wants to Sleep” by Tadeusz Chmielewski is a significant achievement of the polish film of the 1950s. The main character of the comedy is the title Ewa, a young girl from the countryside, who just before the start of the school year arrives in the city to start studying at a technical school. Unfortunately, it turns out that the boarding school is still closed, and she has to look for a place to stay.

The role of the beautiful Eve was played by the phenomenal Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass, and her on-screen partner was Stanislaw Mikulski, who played the role of a caring policeman accompanying her on her nightly wanderings through the city. “Eve Wants to Sleep” draws on the tradition of French burlesque, and is loaded with great gags and iconic lyrics that have permanently entered pop culture.

10. ”Playtime”, 1967

the best comedy movies - playtime

Jacques Tati created a completely separate world and type of comedy, which he based on one eccentric character – Mr. Hulot. In the film “Playtime”, Mr. Hulot, going to one of the districts of Paris for an arranged meeting with Mr. Giffard, comes across a tour of Americans. The plot is somewhat absurd, the actions of the characters are characterized by unfulfillment and a kind of aimlessness, and the action takes place in several places showing urban life, such as the Orly airport, a department store, a restaurant, a street. The film starred the director himself.

The film is a quintessential part of Tati’s cult cinema. Earlier films include “Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday” (1953) and “Mon Oncle” (1958), both of which gained huge audience appeal due to their characteristic gags. In Playtime, Mr. Hulot has been slightly altered by the author, rarely appears fully on screen, and has doubles. Tati uses comedy here to diagnose the flaws of modern consumer societies.

11. ”Divorce Italian Style” (”Divorzio all’italiana”), 1961

the 25 greatest comedy movies - divorce italian style

“Divorce Italian Style” (1961), directed by Pietro Germi, is in turn a great comedy starring Marcello Mastroianni. The famous Italian amante as Baron Fefe Cefale tries to find an excuse to put his wife Rosalia to death and marry his beautiful young cousin. And all because of the illegality of divorce in Italy in the 1960s. Divorce in Italian is a huge dose of laughter and directorial virtuosity.

Awarded an Oscar for Best Screenplay, Divorce in Italian is one of the so-called “Sicilian comedies” that denounced the flaws of Italian conservatism, particularly strong in the south of the country. One of the manifestations of the oppressiveness of the Italian patriarchy towards women was the ban on divorce, in force until the 1970s (!). At the same time, in fact, leniency was accorded to so-called “honor killings” of a wife as a result of her infidelity, which, as one might assume, turned out to be a tragic mix. Thus, in Germi’s movie, the count, wishing to free himself from his wife, tries to push her into the arms of another in order to gain a pretext for murder….

12. ”The Sting”, 1973

the best comedy films - the sting

Another item on the list of best comedies is “The Sting” (1973) by George Roy Hill. This film is set in the 1930s, while the protagonists are two gangsters who want to exact revenge for the murder of their friend. To this end, they intend to organize a great mystification. The film starred Robert Redford, Paul Newman and Robert Shaw.

Awarded seven Oscars, “The Sting” is a true masterpiece of the genre in the neo-noir style. An important role is played here by Robert Surtees’ cinematography realized in the retro convention: in sepia, yellow and beige colors. The poetics of nostalgia for the past is also enhanced by the atmospheric songs of Scott Joplin, appropriately adapted by Marvin Hamlisch.

13. ”Silent Movie”, 1976

25 all time geatest comedy films - silent movie

Mel Brooks’ comedy “Silent Movie” is a great satire on Hollywood and old cinema. A certain film studio is in decline. An eccentric director comes up with the idea of making a silent film with big stars to save the company from bankruptcy. The work is to be a classic slapstick comedy.

“Silent Movie” can be described as retro-parody or pastiche. The main idea here is to resurrect the pre-silent comedy formula as a dynamic series of gags, without dialogue. It was aimed at such classics as Mack Sennet, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.

14. ”Manhattan”, 1979

25 essential comedy movies - manhattan

Woody Allen’s intellectual comedies are almost a separate subgenre. Among them, “Manhattan”, which won two BATFA statuettes and was nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes, has a special place. The main character is a forty-something neurotic intellectual, a resident of New York. After leaving his job in television, he intends to take up writing a book. The man has two divorces and related alimony charges on his record, and unexpectedly falls in love with his friend’s girlfriend.

Allen’s “Manhattan” is considered an outstanding work. Attention is drawn to Gordon Willis’ stylish black-and-white cinematography, wonderfully portraying New York. Of course, the constant themes of this period of the director’s work appear here, namely the autobiographical game between the protagonist and Allen himself, playing the main character, as well as analyses of the sexual frustrations of the American middle class. Above all, however, it is a comedy about the search for the meaning of life and finding it in everyday, ordinary things.

15. ”The Graduate”, 1967

the funniest films - the graduate

This film is among the outstanding sequels to the “sophisticated comedy” of the 1930s, and at the same time is the flagship of the cinema of contestation of the 1960s. Mike Nichols’ “The Graduate” tells the story of a young man who gets involved in an affair with an older, influential woman – Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), an acquaintance of his parents. In turn, the protagonist then falls in love with her daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross). Dustin Hoffmann makes his debut in the lead role here.

“The Graduate” went down in the history of cinema as a story about the rebellion of the younger generation and the social changes in the United States that took place under the influence of the counterculture. The film was based on a novel by Charles Webb, which was published in 1963, that is, before the mass hippie movement. Nevertheless, the screen adaptation, explicitly criticizing the affluent middle class, became a clear sign of contestation.

The funniest movies of all time

16. „Carnal Knowledge”, 1971

the funniest films of all time - carnal knowledge

Another Mike Nichols film in our ranking of all-time comedies. “Carnal Knowledge” is a funny, but also thought-provoking story about the complicated nature of human feelings. Two college friends (Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel) fall in love with the same girl – Susan (Candice Bergen). One of them is her lover, the other dreams of Susan platonically. Eventually, the girl marries one of the friends. Years later, all three meet again.

Nichols’ movie was critically acclaimed, and the performer of the supporting role, Ann Margret, was awarded a Golden Globe. The picture belongs to the trend of breaking sexual taboos in American cinema. Moreover, eroticism appears here not as a carefree, joyful human activity, but a rather dark sphere that causes many intractable problems.

17. “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, 1975

funniest movies of all time - monthy python and the holy grail

“Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was the film that opened a series of cinematic productions by the famous British comedian group. In this and the subsequent picture “Jabberwocky” (1977), directed by Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, the times of medieval England were taken for a spin. The plot was based on the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Monty Python’s films are a sharp satire on the Middle Ages, exposing their backward mentality and pervasive cult of superstition. The drastic naturalism and spartan conditions in which the people of the time lived come to the fore here, a blade aimed at the excessive idealization of the Middle Ages in the narrative of historians.

Monty Python’s most famous feature-length comedy, meanwhile, was “Life of Brian” (1979), a travesty of the New Testament. Indeed, the film’s main character is Brian, who is born in Bethlehem at the same time as Jesus Christ, and is mistakenly taken for the expected Messiah.

18. “Tootsie”, 1982

top comedy movies - tootsie

This is one of the funniest comedies of the 1980s. Sydney Pollack’s “Tootsie” (1982) tells the story of an unemployed actor who, in an act of desperation, decides to don a woman’s outfit and, in such a guise, get a coveted engagement on a TV soap opera. However, everything gets complicated when Michael (Dustin Hoffman) falls in love with the alluring Julie (Jessica Lange). Tootsie is a cult comedy that delivers a dose of healthy laughter and on top of that is a true masterpiece.

Sydney Pollack’s movie won three Golden Globes and nine Academy Award nominations. Ultimately, the American Academy Award went to Jessica Lange. Under a layer of comedy, “Tootsie” hides a thoughtful analysis of American culture, gender stereotypes and considerations of human psychosexual identity.

19. ”Sexmission” (”Seksmisja”), 1983

top comedy films - sexmission

Juliusz Machulski’s cult film “Sexmission” can also certainly be counted among the best comedies. The plot of this science-fiction-maintained story is set in 2044, when the last men alive on Earth – Maks (Jerzy Stuhr) and Albert (Olgierd Łukaszewicz) are awakened from hibernation. It turns out that during their decades-long sleep, the planet was almost completely destroyed by a nuclear conflict, and people had to move underground. On the occasion of these events, men were completely eliminated, and the League of Women began to rule the world.

Machulski’s masterpiece comedy was enthusiastically received by Polish audiences, and later gained cult film status. The filmmakers included political allusions, clear especially in the context of martial law. After all, “Sexmission”, on an allegorical level, is a story about the shameful enslavement of Polish male warriors by communism, but at the same time it contains an optimistic announcement of the fall of the authoritarian system.

20. „Groundhog Day”, 1993

best comedies ever made - groundhog day

“Groundhog Day” (1993), directed by Harold Ramis, is one of the best comedies of the 1990s. The reliving of the same day over and over again (and the worst day ever!) by a certain weather presenter provides the opportunity for many funny situations. Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell appeared in leading roles.

The comedy was awarded a BAFTA statuette for best original screenplay. The time loop experienced by the protagonist allows him to rethink his past life, understand his mistakes and think about a possible change of attitude towards the world. After all, Phil Connors does not sin of being sympathetic, and considers his life a string of failures.

21. ”The Visitors” (”Les Visiteurs”), 1993

best comedy movies list - the visitors

The funniest comedies are not only American hits. Great merits in this field have the French. The excellent movie “The Visitors” was directed by Jean-Marie Poire, a member of the artistic group Splendid. Due to an ill-advised witch’s spell, the 12th-century knight Godefroy (played by Jean Reno) and his squire Jacquouille (Christian Clavier) are transported back in time and end up in the 20th century. They are hosted by the beautiful Mistress Beatrice (Valerie Lemercier), a descendant of Frenegunda, Godefroy’s beloved.

The movie was inspired by Robert Zemeckis’ famous “Back to the Future” (1985). It playfully confronts ancient and modern mores, not always to the benefit of the present. For while the newcomers from the Middle Ages don’t fare well in terms of hygiene and austerity in their circumnavigation, the courteous attitude to women and respect for family, for example, already aroused sentiment in the audience for a bygone past.

22. ”Taxi”, 1998

gratest comedy movies of all time - taxi

“Taxi” is a comedy hit of the 1990s, directed by Gerard Pires from a script by Luc Besson. The movie is a thriller comedy telling the story of one cab driver and a policeman’s frantic pursuit of a German gang of “Mercedes” robbing banks. And the bizarre alliance comes to a head when an unlicensed cop as a passenger catches a corporate rookie driver seriously speeding. He promises to write off the cab driver’s fine in exchange for his help in prosecuting dangerous criminals.

The movie won two Cesars in the categories of best sound and best editing. It starred Samy Naceri and Frederic Diefenthal in the lead roles. “Taxi” enjoyed great popularity for a very long time and lived to see several sequels.

23. ”Meet the Parents”, 2000

comedy movies - meet the parents


Among comedies from the first decade of the 21st century, “Meet the Parents” (2000) is worth watching. Jay Roach’s film extremely amusingly depicts the first meeting between Greg (Ben Stiller), a quiet nurse and his future father-in-law. Jack (played by Robert De Niro) proves to be a really difficult opponent and does not want to give up his beloved daughter easily. The film “Meet the Parents” lived to see two sequels: “Meet the Fockers” (2004) and “Little Fockers” (2010).

24. “The Intouchables”, 2011

funny comedies list - the intouchables

“The Intouchables” (2011) by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano is a funny comedy and at the same time a beautiful film with a message. For it is the story of a friendship between two men that changes the lives of both of them. Driss has just been released from prison and, for lack of any other idea for life, hires himself as a caregiver for the paralyzed millionaire Philippe. “The Intouchables” is a film about the undeniable value of life and enjoying its charms in all circumstances.

Due to the theme of friendship across the divide, the French comedy is often juxtaposed with the American film “Green Book” (2018). Peter Farelly’s three Oscar-winning comedy starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershal Ali similarly to Untouchables tells a story based on fact. It shows how the shared journey of an African-American pianist and an American of Italian descent living in the Bronx changes the way they both view the world.

25. ”Zootopia”, 2016

good comedies - zootopia

Our ranking of good comedies closes with Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Oscar-winning animated feature. The film tells the story of a young rabbit policewoman Judy, who enthusiastically starts her dream job. However, the boring writing of tickets for bad parking does not satisfy her ambitions. Soon, together with a petty fox thief – Nick Bajer – Judy will have the opportunity to unravel the really serious mystery of the progressing epidemic of madness and aggression affecting more animals in the city.

“Zootopia” is a brilliantly made animation that entertains both young and older audiences, and is a real treat for movie buffs. For the film shimmers with real gems – allusions to various film masterpieces and cult quotes. It also mixes a variety of styles: from comedy, gangster and horror cinema to melodrama. On the most general level, however, it is a clever tale of diverse human personalities who, in the name of a common good – the social contract – must find a method to exist together in one area – like different species of animals in “Zootopia”.

Share “25 Best Comedy Movies of All Time” with your friends