ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top 10 Comedy Movies Of The 20th Century

Updated on December 17, 2014

My Top Picks

"Zany!" ~ "Madcap!" ~ "Raucous!" ~ "Uproarious!" ~ "Riotously funny!" ~ "They'll have you rolling in the aisles!"

Here I present a retrospective of what I consider to be the best comedy movies from the last century. My all-time top 10 picks are presented below in chronological order with video clips, starting with "Some Like it Hot" (1959). These movies all have in common an engaging plot line centered around some type of funny or farcical predicament, a strong cast of co-stars, and, most importantly, non-stop laughs throughout. Being a big fan of comedies, there are so many excellent funny movies that it was hard for me to pick just ten, so I decided to also present a list of runners-up so that you can vote on your favorites.

So ... put on your laughing caps and have fun browsing through my list!

Photo credit: Screen shot of a scene from "Some Like It Hot" from wikimedia.org

1. Some Like It Hot (1959)

When two musicians, Joe and Jerry (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis), witness the Saint Valentine's Day massacre of 1929, they have to get out of Dodge in a hurry to escape certain death at the hands of ruthless mobster head, Spats Colombo (George Raft). Disguised as women, they take jobs and hop a train with an all-girls band headed for Florida. En route, both men compete for the affections of the band's lead singer, Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe), while trying not to blow their cover.

While in Florida, Joe continues to pursue Sugar Kane, pretending to be the heir to Shell Oil, and millionaire Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown) falls for Jerry and won't take no for an answer. All hell breaks loose when Spats Colombo and his gang arrive for a conference at the same hotel where Joe, Jerry, and the all-girls band are staying.

Director Billy Wilder has created some fine gems in his day, but his piece de resistance, "Some Like It Hot," is widely considered to be one of the best (if not the number one) comedies of all time, and for good reason. With its all-star cast, perfectly-paced zany plot, raucous jazz-infused musical score, and surprise ending, it is a true comedic masterpiece which will keep people rolling in the aisles for generations to come.

"Well, nobody's perfect!"

2. Blazing Saddles (1974)

Corrupt politician Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) is building a railroad and wants to take over the land occupied by Rock Ridge, a small Western frontier town. To drive out the townspeople, he appoints a black sheriff, Bart (Cleavon Little), to run the town with the idea that he will so offend the residents that they will leave, but his diabolical plans backfire hilariously.

The ultimate Western spoof, "Blazing Saddles" (1974) is the best of many comedic masterpieces by director Mel Brooks. This movie also co-stars Gene Wilder as the Waco Kid, Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Shtupp, and Alex Karras as Mongo.

"I'd say you've had enough!"

3. The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)

Former Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) has had it up to here with (now Chief) Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers) and will go to any lengths to get rid of him once and for all, even to the point of holding the world hostage with his Doomsday Machine until someone kills off Clouseau. Dreyfus' diabolical plans are foiled by the bumbling Clouseau, who, on top of everything else, pretends to be a dentist in order to gain entrance into the castle, treats Dreyfus for a toothache, douses them both with laughing gas, and ends up pulling out the wrong tooth.

"The Pink Panther Strikes Again" (1976) is the fifth in a series of hysterical farces by director Blake Edwards centered around the hapless Inspector Clouseau who, despite his bumbling ways, always manages to solve the crime. This film also co-stars Lesley-Anne Down, Burt Kwouk, and Leonard Rossiter.

4. Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

This farce, which is interlaced with a melange of short and totally off-the-wall skits, is centered mainly around the adventures of a Bruce Lee-type character (Evan C. Kim) who must battle the evil Dr. Klahn (Bong Soo Han). This film also co-stars George Lazenby, Tony Dow, Donald Sutherland, Tara Strohmeier, and Branscombe Richmond.

"Kentucky Fried Movie" (1977) was directed by John Landis and co-written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, who later go on to write and direct other comedy classics, including "Airplane!," "Top Secret!" and "The Naked Gun" series.

5. Life of Brian (1979)

This spoof on the life of Jesus is centered on a poor bloke named Brian Cohen (Graham Chapman), a young Jewish man who happened to be born at the wrong place and time, i.e., on Christmas Day next door to, of all people, Jesus Christ. Through a comedy of errors, Brian is subsequently mistaken for the real Messiah and reluctantly ends up on the cross. Fellow cross bearers try to buoy his spirits with the relentlessly cheery "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life."

"Life of Brian" (1979) was written, directed and performed mostly by Monty Python comedy team members. Predictably, this hilarious and irreverent satire, which was a box office smash, sparked an outpouring of protests from many religious groups which have continued to the present day. This comedy classic also co-stars John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.

"Always look on the bright side of life!"

6. The In-Laws (1979)

Dr. Sheldon Kornpett (Alan Arkin), an upstanding and affluent dentist from New Jersey, gets the feeling that something is not quite right but has no idea of the mess he is about to be dragged into when he first meets Vince Ricardo (Peter Falk), an undercover CIA agent and the father of his soon-to-be son-in-law.

Kornpett's nightmare begins when the Ricardos are invited over for dinner and Vince (unbeknownst to everyone) hides an engraving plate in the Kornpetts' basement. The next day, Ricardo shows up at Kornpett's office and ropes him into doing him a favor, which entails him breaking into Ricardo's office and retrieving an item from his safe. Soon after, Kornpett find himself being chased and shot at by hit men, and Ricardo tells him about the engraving plate.

As Kornpett returns home, he finds a swarm of G-men in his driveway. He quickly flees the scene, frantically telephones Ricardo, and is tricked into going off to Central America with Ricardo where the two men become entangled in an international incident while continually dodging bullets and almost lose their lives in front of a firing squad. In the end, however, Kornpett's ordeals prove to have been worth it as the twosome end up making off with a cool ten million dollars, giving their children wedding gifts of one million dollars each.

This comedy cult classic also co-stars Richard Libertini, Nancy Dussault, Arlene Golonka, Penny Peyser, Ed Begley, Jr., Michael Lembeck, David Paymer, and James Hong.

"Serpentine! Serpentine!"

A remake of "The In-Laws" was made in 2003 co-starring Michael Douglas, Albert Brooks, Ryan Reynolds, Candice Bergen, Maria Ricossa, and Lindsay Sloane. Although it bears some resemblance to the original 1979 movie, some fairly substantial changes in the characters and the original plot were made.

Which version of "The In-Laws" do you prefer?

See results

7. Trading Places (1983)

Everything is going swimmingly for Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), managing director at the commodities brokerage firm of Duke & Duke in Philadelphia, until his bosses, brothers Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy), have that age-old argument about whether it is nature or nurture that determines how well one does in life and make a bet where the loser agrees to pay the winner $1. They observe an altercation between Winthorpe and a street hustler, Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy), and arrange to have their positions switched as an experiment to see what will happen. Valentine is given Winthorpe's job and house and mentored by the Duke brothers. Winthorpe is framed as a thief and drug peddler and arrested, and all his assets are frozen. He ends up losing everything, including his friends and fiancée.

Thinking Valentine is responsible, Winthorpe vows revenge against his nemesis and is caught planting drugs in his desk in an attempt to frame him. Valentine then overhears a conversation in the company bathroom between the Duke brothers in which they discuss the outcome of their experiment and settle their bet. Valentine tries to reach Winthorpe to let him know about the wager, but by the time he arrives, Winthorp has passed out from an overdose of sleeping pills. When Winthorpe finally comes to, the two decide to join forces to bring the Duke brothers down, and they end up becoming rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Directed by John Landis, this zany comedy also co-stars Denholm Elliott as Coleman and Jamie Lee Curtis as Ophelia, who becomes Winthorpe's new love interest.

8. Back To School (1986)

Plus-sized corporate giant Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield), a self-made millionaire who owns a chain of "Tall and Fat" clothing stores, decides to go to college as encouragement to his son Jason (Keith Gordon), a Freshman who is having problems fitting in and thinking of dropping out. Although he does not have a high school diploma, Melon gains admission by donating large sums of money to the university to build the new Thornton Melon School of Business, which infuriates his economics professor, Dr. Philip Barbay (Paxton Whitehead). Melon further incurs the wrath of Dr. Barbay when he one-ups him in class with his more practical and hands-on approach to business and romances Dr. Diane Turner (Sally Kellerman), his English literature professor who is dating Barbay.

As Freshmen, both Jason and Melon share most of the same classes, and Jason looks on with embarrassment as his fun-loving and lovably obnoxious father upstages his professors and attempts to take the easy way out, e.g., by hiring NASA to do his science homework. When Melon is threatened with expulsion and must pass a series of tests in each of his courses in order to stay, he decides to get with the program and buckle down.

This classic comedy also co-stars Burt Young, Adrienne Barbeau, Robert Downey, Jr., Sam Kinison, and Ned Beatty.

"The next question for us is, where to build our factory?" - "How about Fantasy Land!"

9. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)

During an investigation of the near-fatal attack on Officer Nordberg (O.J. Simpson), his friend and partner, Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) finds out that Vincent Ludwig (Ricardo Montelban), who was behind the attack on Nordberg, plans to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II of England (Jeannette Charles) who is coming to visit Los Angeles. This assassination is to take place at a baseball game by a baseball player who is brainwashed with a mind control device. In the course of his investigations, Drebin meets Ludwig's assistant, Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley), and they fall in love.

In the end, the bumbling Lieutenant Drebin manages to foil Ludwig's evil plans, but not before he sets fire to Ludwig's office, accidentally fondles a woman's breasts, lands on top of the Queen at a formal dinner, gets fired, forgets to take off his microphone after giving a speech and goes to the bathroom, poses as a famous opera singer and butchers the national anthem at the baseball game, and ends up proposing to Jane on the stadium screen in front of thousands of people. After the Queen is saved and Drebin kills Ludwig, Mayor Barkley (Nancy Marchand) reinstates Drebin and Nordberg congratulates him, whereupon Drebin pats him on the back and sends him hurtling down the bleachers in his wheelchair.

The first of three Naked Gun movies, this film also co-stars George Kennedy as Captain Ed Hocken. This series was based in part on the TV series, "Police Squad," which also starred Neilson.

Lieutenant Drebin forgets to turn off the microphone while going to the bathroom.

10. Office Space (1999)

Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) hates his mind-numbing job as a programmer at Initech, a software company rife with bureaucracy, and he can't shake off his boorish, smarmy, and micromanaging boss, Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole). After his soon to be ex-girlfriend, Anne (Alexandra Wentworth), drags him to a session with a hypnotherapist that is cut short by his sudden death with a heart attack, a formerly burned-out and still half-hypnotized Peter comes to the realization that his idea of a dream job is one where he would get to spend the rest of his days "doing nothing" - which is exactly when he ends up doing. Ironically, this new-found attitude does not get Peter fired, but rather, he gets promoted on the recommendation of "the Bobs" (John McGinley and Paul Willson), two consultants with the same first name hired by Initech to help with cutting expenses mainly through downsizing.

Peter, along with his friends and co-workers Michael (David Herman) and Samir (Ajay Naidu), who are about to be downsized, hatch a plan to gradually abscond with company money over time by installing a virus in Initech's computer system that is supposed to make withdrawals so small that they will never be noticed. Unfortunately for the threesome, this plan backfires due to a glitch in the program that causes the money to be withdrawn too quickly. Knowing that the jig will soon be up, Peter leaves a note of confession with a check under Lumbergh's door and resigns himself to going to jail, but is saved by a fire which completely obliterates Initech.

This comedy classic about the soul-sucking aspects of everyday working life also co-stars Jennifer Aniston, Diedrich Bader, and Stephen Root.

"Hello Peter. What's happening?"

What is your all-time favorite comedy movie?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      Life of Brian :)

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      These movies bring back memories. Well done lens.

    • PTurner56 profile image

      PTurner56 5 years ago

      I wholeheartedly agree with you that the last line of Some Like it Hot is the best!

    • profile image

      candidaabrahamson 5 years ago

      Enjoyed it whole-heartedly, and I knew we were headed in the right direction when you started with "Some Like It Hot," a fantastically funny movie that showed Marilyn Monroe at her best.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 5 years ago

      I don't watch many movies, but do remember enjoying the Pink Panther Strikes Again.

    • SophiaStar LM profile image

      SophiaStar LM 5 years ago

      One of my favorites is Mel Brooks "History of the World Part 1". I love some of these on your list! Thanks for reminding me:)

    • Wayne Rasku profile image

      Wayne Rasku 5 years ago

      Of those on your list, I think Some Like It Hot is the winner. Of those not listed, I like "The Out-of-Towners" with Jack Lemon and Sandy Dennis. Great list though.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World! LOL Such a silly movie. One I would add is The Russians are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have to confess to being a Monty Python lover

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      I like the pink panthers...very funny.

    • profile image

      mogulmedia 5 years ago

      NOooooooo! How can Airplane! not be on here?!?!?!

      Unfortunately I cannot take your lens seriously for that omission... :)

    • adelais lm profile image

      adelais lm 5 years ago

      you might want to see a 1975 film called Love and Death by Woody Allen - it's witty, but which film by Allen isn't?

    • profile image

      aquarian_insight 5 years ago

      Wow, some classic comedies here that I had forgotten about! Great list - thank you.

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 5 years ago

      I love several on your list. Great choices. I also love Chevy Chase's Lapoon Christmas Vacation. Classic! Blessed

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Well done on your comedy movie choices, especially like the videos.

    • profile image

      ginayonque 5 years ago

      Ialways like Eddie Murphy....

    • profile image

      ginayonque 5 years ago

      Ialways like Eddie Murphy....

    • profile image

      careerjobcoach 5 years ago

      These are some great movie picks.

    • profile image

      jamesMorton89 5 years ago

      Good list - surely "A Fish Called Wanda" should be on it somewhere though?? Funniest film I've seen in a long while.

    • DIY Mary profile image
      Author

      DIY Mary 5 years ago

      @jamesMorton89: I agree. Any movie that co-stars John Cleese is always a winner in my book. "A Fish Called Wanda" is included in the runners-up list (under "Vote for your all-time favorite comedy movie here."), and right now, it is ranked #10.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      You've got 2 of my favorites on this list: Office Space and Trading Places. Love them!

    • ferginarg lm profile image

      ferginarg lm 5 years ago

      The life of Brian would be one of my top funniest moview.. "I'm Brian and so is my wife" brilliant lens, thanks!

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Dr. Strangelove!

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      Great choices! Trading Places was a great movie.

    • profile image

      MobileAppMan 5 years ago

      Dude, seriously? You must have been smokin' too many jays to leave off so many great comedies.

      Plus, it's Rock Ridge, not Rodge. Even Mongo knows that.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Life of Brian, and the Producers are great! Really good lens though, angel blessed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Life of Brian, and the Producers are great! Really good lens though, angel blessed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Life of Brian, and the Producers are great! Really good lens though, angel blessed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Life of Brian, and the Producers are great! Really good lens though, angel blessed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Life of Brian, and the Producers are great! Really good lens though, angel blessed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Life of Brian, and the Producers are great! Really good lens though, angel blessed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Life of Brian, and the Producers are great! Really good lens though, angel blessed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Life of Brian, and the Producers are great! Really good lens though, angel blessed!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Life of Brian, and the Producers are great! Really good lens though, angel blessed!

    • profile image

      cody44 5 years ago

      As good as it gets

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I just love Mrs. Doubfire! Some of these I haven't seen yet and others are fun memories.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Forgot to mention, congratulations on front page honors! Now, I'm wondering what my all-time favorite comedy movie really is, there have been so many great ones.

    • profile image

      KRaj_DST 5 years ago

      it's a great list of movies... thank you!!

    • profile image

      KRaj_DST 5 years ago

      it's a great list of movies... thank you!!

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      Great list! You've listed a many favorites!

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      Great list! You've listed a many favorites!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff you post.

      http://www.aabhatutors.com

      gmat tutor in delhi

    • profile image

      jinggaberseri 5 years ago

      nice lens

    • profile image

      jinggaberseri 5 years ago

      nice lens

    • PlethoraReader profile image

      Matthew 5 years ago from Silicon Valley

      Great suggestions, thankfully have seen many of these and thoroughly agree.

    • profile image

      xfishhead1 5 years ago

      Airplane and Fletch were not in the top ten

    • profile image

      depuyhiprecalllawyer 5 years ago

      I like that movie with Eddi Murphy for sure he's very funny. The rest of the movies you listed are so very old and I'm still a baby at that time.

    • elsiesflat profile image

      elsiesflat 5 years ago

      Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

    • chookyco profile image

      chookyco 5 years ago

      Love Office Space! People behind King Of The Hill are very funny

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I observed the video too rancorous Achi people of Surrey, Surrey, also praised everything that was possible good film ...

      http://www.aabhatutors.com

      gmat tutor in delhi

    • laughingapple profile image

      laughingapple 5 years ago

      Love Trading Places and Back To School. Also think Some Like It Hot is a great Monroe film.

    • imlifestyle profile image

      imlifestyle 5 years ago

      Candy Gram for Bongo, I remember Blazing Saddles. Mel Brooks is a comedy genius. Thanks for the memories...

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      OMG! I totally haven't seen most of these!!!! But I LOVE Trading Places.. and Mr and Mrs Smith had me laughing hysterically, too :) Blessed!

    • profile image

      AnnaleeBlysse 5 years ago

      I haven't seen all of these, but the list contains some great movies!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 5 years ago

      Thank you for the list, I'll be referring back whenever I feel like watching something funny! :)

    • jordanmilesbask profile image

      jordanmilesbask 5 years ago

      I haven't watch some of these movies...Thanks for sharing it! I will definitely watch them next time...

    • Northwestphotos profile image

      Northwestphotos 5 years ago

      "Blazing Saddles" has probably got to be the greatest slap-stick comedy movie of all time!

    • gamrslist profile image

      gamrslist 5 years ago

      don't have fav cool lens thank you

    • nickupton lm profile image

      nickupton lm 5 years ago

      Some great comedy movies here. I also love "This is Spinal Tap" and "Stir Crazy".

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Will have to watch some of these.

    • ShariSmith profile image

      ShariSmith 5 years ago

      'Life of Brian' is one of the best comedy classics

    • Mandy Stradley profile image

      Mandy Stradley 4 years ago

      I don't know if I can really choose, but I love Office Space!

    • Escapes2 profile image

      Escapes2 4 years ago

      I love The Naked Gun movies, actually anything with Leslie Nielson.

    • profile image

      chris1402 4 years ago

      surely it's a tie between blazing saddles, pink panther & airplane - (don't call me shirley !!)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Animal House closely followed by Bowfinger.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 4 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      great comedy collection. my favorite one is "honey, i shrunk the kids".

    • profile image

      Bartukas 4 years ago

      Great comedy movies list

    Click to Rate This Article