I’ve been thinking about Comedy a lot lately. Especially comedy movies since I purchase DVDs for the Adult Film Collection. I’ve been looking at a lot of lists of great comedy films and The Apartment keeps coming up. The Apartment stars Jack Lemon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray and was directed by Billy Wilder. I like the movie. It’s witty, brilliantly acted, and masterfully directed. Besides the Apartment, Billy Wilder also directed Double Indemnity, Sunset BLVD., Some Like it Hot, Stalag 17 and Witness for the Prosecution, so clearly Billy Wilder is one of the great directors but I kept going back to the Apartment and wondering why anyone would think of it as a comedy. But I’m a Librarian so I looked it up and it goes back to Ancient Greece. The word Comedy comes to us from Greek Drama through Latin Drama and Medieval Theater where Comedy meant a play with a happy ending as opposed to a Tragedy which is a play where almost everybody dies. So in a traditional theatrical sense The Apartment is a Comedy since C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemon) wins Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) in the end and they live happily ever after. I would highly recommend the movie to any serious film buff but not if they were looking for laughs.
We’ve come a long way from Ancient Greek Drama. Our theatrical entertainment is no longer clearly divided into Tragedy and Comedy. We now have Horror, Science Fiction, Crime/Gangster, Westerns, Historical Epics, and Musicals just to name most of the major film genres. By ancient Greek standards the term Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) would be redundant since as long as they ‘lived happily ever after’ it is a comedy but there are certain films which retain the theatrical comedy label even though they weren’t produced strictly for laughs. Many of the Films of Frank Capra, Preston Sturges, and Ernst Lubitsch fall into that “are you sure that’s a comedy?” category. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and It’s a Wonderful Life are considered two of the 100 greatest movies ever made and although I would not consider them Comedies they fall within the definition of Comedy in the traditional theatrical sense.
The following is a list of the Greatest Comedy movies. I cross referenced the American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest Movies with a list of the 50 funniest movies from Premier Magazine. So it’s not my personal list. It’s a purely by the numbers list but it is also a good list. Some of my favorite films are on this list but there are some hilariously funny, fall down funny, spit your coffee out funny, movies that didn’t make this list. My father’s favorite comedy never makes any comedy list; Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines was my father’s favorite movie. I think it’s hilarious. Watch it. You’ll laugh.
Gold Rush (1925) Charlie Chaplin.
The General (1926) Buster Keaton.
Duck Soup (1933) Marx Brothers.
It Happened One Night (1934) Clark Gable eating a carrot inspired Bugs Bunny.
Night at the Opera (1935) Another Marx Brothers movie.
My Man Godfrey (1936) William Powell & Carole Lombard (LOL Funny!)
The Awful Truth (1937) Cary Grant and Irene Dunn.
Bringing Up Baby (1938) This Howard Hawks film is on everybody’s “Best List”.
His Girl Friday (1940) Another Howard Hawks Classic Comedy.
Road to Morocco (1942) The best Hope & Crosby ‘Road Movie’.
To Be or Not to Be (1942) Jack Benny & Carole Lombard directed by Lubitsch!
Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) The best Preston Sturges comedy!
Some Like it Hot (1959) Marilyn Monroe & Jack Lemon directed by Billy Wilder!
The Apartment (1960) See this movie.
Shot In the Dark (1964) The best Pink Panther movie.
Doctor Strangelove (1964) Stanley Kubrick directs Peter Sellers.
Producers (1967) Dick Shawn does a beatnik Hitler LOL.
M*A*S*H* (1970) Best comic football game since Horse Feathers.
Sleeper (1973) When Woody Allen was trying to be funny.
Blazing Saddles (1974) The Mel Brooks classic.
Young Frankenstein (1974) For Horror fans, funnier than Blazing Saddles.
Annie Hall (1977) Probably Woody Allen’s best movie.
National Lampoons Animal House (1978) John Belushi steals the movie.
The Jerk (1979) Steve Martin’s cinematic debut.
Airplane! (1980) THE parody of disaster movies. (LOL)
Caddyshack (1980) Bill Murray and a Muppet Gopher steal the movie.
Private Benjamin (1980) Goldie Hawn’s best role.
This is Spinal Tap (1984) Every rock musician thinks this is the funniest movie ever made.
Fish Called Wanda (1988) John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Kevin Kline.
Groundhog Day (1993) Bill Murray comedy vehicle.