What are the most interesting comedies movies to watch in the history of cinema? Long considered a minor genre, some comedies have become cult, inserted by major film magazines and critics among the must-see movies. Before getting to the cinema, let’s see how the genre of comedy was born in ancient theater and literature.
The Origins of the Comedy
The word comedy derives from the classical Greek kōmōidía, which is composed of the 2 words feast and song, ode. The known origins of the comedy date back to Ancient Greece in some works of Aristotle, such as La Poetica, and Aristophanes. In them the Greek authors made irony about the lifestyles and contradictions of Athenian society.
The theatrical comedies were staged in the cities of ancient Greece to make social and political satire, as is the case in today’s television talk shows. Often they were performances on a current affairs conflict, on politicians and on well-known personalities of society, where there were two sides against each other. The public could identify and at the same time enjoy themselves.
The Canadian critic Herman Northrop Frye identified this main conflict of theatrical comedy of ancient Greece in the clash between the young generations and the old generations, between those who do not yet have authority and power and those who he does not want to give up the prestigious role he has won in society. The clash was told in amusing tones and paradoxical situations.
While the favorite hero in the tragedy was a virtuous man, the protagonist of the comedies was often a mediocre and flawed man. An ideal character to tell the flaws of society with a funny tone.
In the ancient Islamic world where Aristotle’s poetics was translated, the term comedy was not associated with entertainment. It was rather a genre associated with satirical poetry by writers and poets such as Abu Bishr, Al-Farabi, Avicenna and Averroes.
The comedy crosses all eras, from that of ancient Rome to the Renaissance, up to the works of Shakespeare. In the Middle Ages the term comedy deviates from the meaning of funny representation and is associated with laughter and takes on the meaning of a poem with a happy ending. As in the case of Dante Alighieri’s La Commedia.
The Comedy in Silent Cinema
Comedy is a very popular cinematic genre which has its main features in irony, satire and derision of social and moral mores. In the origin of cinema, comedy was immediately one of the main genres, especially after the creation of the Hollywood industry. The sentimental comedy was born in the ’10s with films that told of the separation of two spouses and the attendance of other partners.
The films had a purpose of containing the divorce explosion of the time. They always ended with a moralistic ending in which the two spouses returned to live together.
Thanks to the comic comedy genre and the character of Charlot, Charlie Chaplin became one of the most famous actors and directors in the world. His masterpieces are countless, starting with the comic film The Kid up to the bitter and dramatic comedy of Limelight.
In the limelight finale Charlie Chaplin stars with another comedy giant, Buster Keaton. Some Buster Keaton comedies are a must see, they are real masterpieces of the slapstick genre, a genre typical of the silent era in which comedy was focused on action and physical gags. For example in the films How I Won the War or The Cameraman. With the advent of sound, comedy begins to use gags also through dialogues.
In 1934 the Hays code came into force and the rigidity of the censorship no longer allowed the distribution of works that spoke of marital adultery. The comedy genre then turned towards the sub-genre of screwball comedy, the sophisticated comedy.
This genre of comedies featured rich characters from the upper middle class. Sophisticated comedy was frequented by great directors such as Frank Capra in films such as It Happened One Night, 1934.
American comedy film
American comedy films are among the oldest genres of American cinema; some of the early silent films were comedies, as entertaining slapstick often relies on action and mimicry, without requiring sound. With the introduction of sound in the late 1920s and 1930s, comedy films rose in prestige. By the 1950s, the television industry had become stiff competition for the film industry. The 1960s saw an increasing number of entertaining comedies filled with Hollywood stars. In the 1970s, black comedies were preferred. Prominent figures in the 1970s were Woody Allen and Mel Brooks.
The undisputed master of sophisticated comedy in Hollywood was Ernst Lubitsch. Lubitsch’s style was brilliant, engaging and dynamic, made up of sudden changes of narrative and point of view. Among his most famous comedies to watch we can remember films such as Lady Windermere’s Fan, Trouble in Paradise, Design for Living, Ninotchka, shot between the 20s and 30s. Among his masterpieces certainly also, To Be or Not to Be, a memorable satire on Hitler, inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.
beginning of the thirties to establish itself as a comedy in Hollywood director especially Frank Capra with his films with happy endings, endings often far-fetched and sweetened.
We are in the middle of the New Deal and after the Great Depression the United States needs trust. Production companies are happy to produce films that support the government’s political project of a new American dream.
From the 40-50s the master of comedyarrives to success Howard Hawks, with films like I am Susanna! (1938), His Girl Friday (1940) or Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).
They are cinematic stories in which the author focuses mainly on the conflict between boring life and chaos, with an invisible direction that gives objective relevance to the events that happen on the screen.
The comedy however becomes bitter and turns into arthouse films with greater depth only withcinema Billy Wilder’s. Wilder collaborated with great writers such as Charles Brackett or IAL Diamond.
His films are a bitter critique of Western society full of black humor, reminiscent in a certain sense of the depth of the great Italian comedy.
The most important masterpieces are A Foreign Affair, 1948, The Seven Year Itch, 1955, Some like it hot, 1959, Sabrina, 1954, Love in the Afternoon, 1957, Irma La Dolce, 1963.
The Italian Comedy
At the end of the 1950s the so-called Italian comedy was born in Italy, a genre of comedy that deals with social, political and cultural themes from a funny and ironic point of view. The Italian comedy manages to be more incisive than many dramas considered arthouse. One of the first films is Mario Monicelli’s I soliti ignoti, in 1958.
The Italian comedy will describe the Italian society of the 60s and 70s with extraordinary precision and wit, like no other genre will be able to do. The actor Alberto Sordi will be the protagonist on the big screen of hundreds of films that will tell the vices, the opportunism, the meanness and the propensity to scam of the average Italian.
The main directors of the Italian comedy were Mario Monicelli, Ettore Scola, Dino Risi, Luigi Zampa, Steno, Vittorio De Sica and Luigi Comencini.
All the great Italian actors of the time attended the comedy genre: they were Vittorio Gassman, Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren, Ugo Tognazzi, Marcello Mastroianni, Nino Manfredi, Aldo Fabrizi, Claudia Cardinale Gastone Moschin and Adolfo Celi.
French Comedy Movies
French comedy films began to appear in substantial numbers during the silent film era, from 1895 to 1930. The visual humor of most of these silent films relied on farce and burlesque. One of the first entertaining shorts was Watering the Gardener (1895) by the Lumière brothers. Max Linder was an important comedian and can be considered the true celebrity of the comedy films of that era.
When sound hit theaters in 1927, comedy films made a comeback thanks to the use of dialogue. After the Second World War, French culture underwent many adaptations in the 1940s and 1970s, which had a great influence on the comedies of this duration. A variety of French comedians had the ability to spot an English-speaking market hit during this time; Fernandel, Bourvil, Louis de Funès and Jacques Tati.
In the early 1970s, young actors new to the baby boom generation starred in comedy films: Gérard Depardieu, Splendid, Daniel Auteuil, Daniel Prévost and Coluche.
One of the main sub-genres of comedy, which became one of the most commercial film genres in the 2000s is romantic comedy, a subgenre of romantic movies. Famous Hollywood actors such as Julia Roberts and Richard Gere are mainly dedicated to this type of film, with mediocre artistic results and extraordinary box office receipts.
The more recent romantic comedy has rarely found its artistic identity and has remained a predominantly commercial phenomenon. They were often the cinematic equivalent of the mass phenomenon of the romance novel, devoid of thickness.
The Black Comedy
Perfect instead as a point of connection between the comedy genre and arthouse film is black comedy. The likes of Stanley Kubrick as in Doctor Strangelove, Ettore Scola, Marco Ferreri in Italy, and many others in various parts of the world.
The black comedy, in contrast to the glossy and mellow romantic comedy, inserts amusing but obscene, obscure elements into the story, often connected to death. The black comedy is perfect for telling in a lighter way of the darker sides of the human being and society.
The Dramatic Comedy
The comedy-drama, also called bitter comedy, is a film that despite preserve the tone of comedy explores dramatic events, often without a happy ending.
The characters of the dramatic comedy frequently have a greater depth than those of the light comedy: the directors can insert more plausible elements and make the cinema more similar to life, with alternating funny moments and dramatic moments.
Many films by Federico Fellini, if we really had to assign a genre to a brilliant and unclassifiable author, are dramatic comedies, where the master of Italian cinema mixes tragic and ironic moments, drama and grotesque with rare skill.
In the 70s, in Italy for example, the Italian comedy changes while society changes. The optimism of the economic boom gives way to the years of lead and terrorism.
The comedy becomes progressively more melancholy and dramatic, starting with films like We All Loved Each Other So Much by Ettore Scola. The abandonment of the values of friendship and love in exchange for opportunism and career becomes one of the dominant themes.
The films still have that funny and ironic spirit, but it is strongly attenuated by more committed reflections, melancholy glances on an often complex reality is difficult.
Comedy can no longer afford to be too “light”, because the decline of society is beginning to be worrying, and the outlook on the world of directors is also changing.
Other Genres of Comedies
Comedy has spawned a myriad of sub-genres, and there will likely be film critics who will identify some new ones in the future.
The anarchic comedy is a genre identified by some film critics focused on the mockery of authority and power. For example films like those of Monty Python, or irreverent American comedies like Animal House, 1978, National Lampoon and many of the Marx brothers’ films.
The bath comedy: gross and disgusting films shot with a demented approach. Porky’s (1982), Dumber and Dumber (1994), American Pie (1999).
The comedy of good manners like the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, set in the conformism of a certain social class.
The “farce” comedy that exaggerates situations bordering on paradox as in Some like it hot. Then there is the parody, the sex comedy, the situation comedy, the straight comedy, the surreal comedy.
Comedies to Watch Absolutely
After this brief journey into the history of comedy and the various subgenres of film genres, here is a list of arthouse comedies to watch. For those who love the genre but do not want to give up artistic quality and cultural depth.
Charlie Chaplin – Short Films
Charlie Chaplin becomes known worldwide with the short films of his character Charlot, inspired by his life experience, invented in 1914. A tramp with huge shoes he adds to the comic films of the time the poetry of great cinema. Charlie Chaplin’s shorts, often less well-known than his most famous feature films, are real pearls of world comedy and cinematographic art.
The Kid (1921)
A very poor woman abandons her son hoping that he will be found by someone who can raise him in well-being. Instead the tramp Charlot finds him, but he certainly does not hold back, you take it as a very serious mission. Charlie Chaplin writes, produces independently, directs and interprets his first feature film, a masterpiece in the history of cinema which after a century retains its charm perfectly intact.
The High Sign (1921)
The High Sign is a 1921 two-reel silent comedy action film starring Buster Keaton, written and directed by Keaton and Edward F. Cline. It is a 21 minute short film. Dissatisfied with the result, Keaton shelved it and the film was not launched. The title describes the secret hand signal used by the film’s underworld gang. Keaton plays a drifter who whiles away his time at a shooting gallery at a theme park. Believing Keaton to be a sharpshooter, both the murderous Blinking Buzzards gang and the man they wish to eliminate end up hiring him. The film ends with a wild chase through a house filled with secret passageways and trapdoors.
In contrast to the “violent slapstick” of the films he actually made with Fatty Arbuckle, this short film exhibits the dry, funny, peaceful style that became Keaton’s hallmark. The climactic chase scenes inside the house take place on a split level set, with revolving wall panels, trap doors and secret passages.
Sherlock Jr. (1924)
Sherlock Jr. is a 1924 American silent comedy action film directed by and starring Buster Keaton and written by Clyde Bruckman, Jean Havez and Joseph A. Mitchell. Includes Kathryn McGuire, Joe Keaton and Ward Crane. The film is considered one of the best comedies ever made.
Sherlock Jr. Buster is a projectionist and janitor. When the theater is empty, he studies a book on How to Be a Detective. He loves a beautiful woman but has a competitor, the “local sheikh”. Neither of them have much money. He discovers a dollar bill in the trash he has swept up in the lobby. He takes it and includes it in the $2 he has. A lady claims that she has lost a dollar. She offers it back. Then she too an old woman claims she lost a dollar. A boy rummages through the trash and discovers a wallet full of cash.
The General (1926)
When Western & Atlantic Railroad train designer Johnnie Gray arrives in Marietta, Georgia, he visits the home of Annabelle Lee, one of the two loves of his life. The other is the locomotive called “The General”. The American Civil War has broken out, and Annabelle’s brother and her dad are thrilled to join the military. To please Annabelle, Johnnie hurries to enlist, but is rejected. Annabelle tells Johnnie that she won’t talk to him again until she sees him in uniform.
Buster Keaton’s film was inspired by Great Locomotive Chase, a tale of a story that really happened during the American Civil War. At the time of its first release it was not well received by the public and largely crushed by film critics, with poor box office returns. Due to his huge $ 750,000 budget plan and failing to make a profit, Keaton lost his self-sufficiency as a director and had to start working on the big studio addictions. The General has been re-evaluated over time, and is currently included among the best films ever made. The General is one of the most iconic comedies ever made, with its gray tone photography, its eye for the bold lines of the locomotive, its wonderful continuity of action. A comic work of art not to be missed.
Steamboat Bill (1928)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. is a 1928 silent action comedy starring Buster Keaton. Released by United Artists, the film is the final product of Keaton’s independent production team and a host of gag writers. It was not a box office hit and ended up being the last film Keaton produced for United Artists. Keaton moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he made one last film in his signature style, The Cameraman, before his imaginative direction was removed from the studio.
Charles Reisner directed the film and the credited story writer was Carl Harbaugh. The film, titled after Arthur Collins’ popular 1911 recording of the 1910 tune “Steamboat Bill,” also starred Ernest Torrence, Marion Byron, and Tom Lewis. The film is intended for what may be Keaton’s most famous film stunt: the exterior of a house falls around him as he stands in the exact area of the open window to avoid being crushed. Steamboat Bill, Jr. was a failure and garnered mixed reviews upon its release. After many years, Steamboat Bill, Jr. has come to be regarded as a work of art of its period.
William “Steamboat Bill” Canfield is the owner and captain of a paddle cleaner, the Stonewall Jackson, which has actually seen much better days. A new cleaner, J King, is taking all of his clients. King also owns the local bank and city hotel. In a well-attended launch celebration, he belittles the Stonewall Jackson. Costs receives a telegram stating that his son is arriving on the 10 a.m. train, having completed his research studies in Boston. King’s daughter Kitty returns from college to visit him. She drives a stylish car.
City Lights (1931)
In his last years, Charlie Chaplin he was known for bringing drama into his plays whenever he got the chance. City Lights is the film where he does both parts. Though its structure resembles Chaplin’s picaresque, there is more of an intentional focus as the tramp attempts to assist a blind flower girl, played adorably by Virginia Cherrill. When drunk and unable to recall his actions when sober, Harry Myers should also be remembered for his role as the generous millionaire in this remarkable film.
Citizens gathered for the unveiling of a new statue dedicated to “Peace and Prosperity”. After the inaugural address the veil lifts and we see the Little Tramp asleep on his lap among the carved figures. He manages to leave the confusion of the assembly to wander around the city. He berates 2 newsboys who tease him for his misery, and while coyly appreciating a naked statue he has a near-fatal encounter with an elevator.
Zero For Conduct (1933)
The holidays are over and it’s time for the kids to return to the terrible boarding school, run by obtuse and conformist tutors, unable to foster the growth of any spirit of freedom and of creativity. One of the great masterpieces in the history of cinema on the theme of childhood and scholastic and social conditioning on the younger generations. A hymn to freedom and creativity, a drive to free themselves from the invisible prisons in which they try to lock themselves up. Fundamental work to see at least once in a lifetime. A masterpiece from the genius of Jean Vigo.
Sazen Tange and the Pot Worth a Million Ryo (1935)
His Girl Friday (1940)
His Girl Friday is a 1940 film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. The film is a romantic comedy that follows ex-wife and journalist Hildy Johnson (played by Russell) who returns to the newsroom for one last story before giving up journalism and getting married again. However, the editor of the newspaper (played by Grant), who is also her ex-husband, tries to stop her from leaving journalism and draws her into a cover-up of a murder case that develops unpredictably. The film is known for its fast, cutting dialogue and strong chemistry between Grant and Russell. It is considered one of the best films of its era and was named to the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest American films of all time.
The double-edged cynicism of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s Broadway comedy The Front Page couldn’t be more contemporary. The director had the enthusiastic intuition to transform the male character Hildy, protagonist of the novel, into a fiery woman played by Rosalind Russell in the film, igniting one of the most incendiary and entertaining war fights between man and woman in the history of cinema.
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
“Monseiur Verdoux” is a 1947 film directed by Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin himself plays the protagonist, a man who marries and kills women to steal their money. The film is a satire of capitalist society and traditional American values, and represents a turning point in the career of Chaplin, who until then was best known for his silent comedies. “Monsieur Verdoux” was a commercial failure upon its release, but has been re-evaluated over the years and is considered one of the director’s masterpieces.
The plot of “Monsieur Verdoux” revolves around the character played by Charlie Chaplin, Henri Verdoux, a former banker who, due to the Great Depression of the 1930s, loses his job and finds himself without means of support for himself and for his his family. To survive, he decides to marry rich women and then kill them to take their money.
The story develops with the presentation of Verdoux as a kind and friendly character, but who hides a dark and criminal side. Over the course of the film, it also comes to light that Verdoux has a family, consisting of a wife and a son, who know nothing of his criminal activities.
The plot becomes complicated when Verdoux marries a woman who turns out to be a false widow, who causes him to lose all his money and forces him to work as a gardener in a country villa. Here he meets a young woman, played by Marilyn Nash, who sympathizes with him and gives him the strength to redeem himself and try to redeem himself from his crimes.
In his filmed black comedy when he was fired and exiled because of his communist views Charlie Chaplin stages the story of Bluebeard, using his comedy with unprecedented resentment and interest in unknown fate in his films. It is precisely the contrast between Chaplin’s comic tones and also the ruthless activities of the main characters that provides the comedy with shocking and unusual action.
Jour de fete (1949)
Jacques Tati before Monsieur Hulot, with his desire to perfect already strong circumstances, in this film based on his short film L’Ecole des facteurs (1947), which also includes himself in the character of the postman François. Jour de fête’s sleepy nods to the French countryside town provide the ideal comparison to François’ goal of influencing the “American-style” modern mailing he saw in an advertisement. Though perhaps not as successful here as in his later work, Tati hones his dialogue-free aesthetic humor, a series of loosely connected comic vignettes in which his masterful shots allow the jokes to unravel naturally.
Three versions of Jour de fête are still available: the black and white version from 1949; the total edited version of 1964 with the addition of hand-drawn colors and the 1995 reissue, restored in the originally intended color scheme. All three have their charms and provide an excellent account of his identity among the masters of French cinema.
Monsieur Hulot’s Vacation (1953)
Impossible to make a list of the best French comedies without including Jacques Tati, among the best French directors, dazzling burlesque star, the French equivalent of Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot is excellent. Its shape and unique design make the master the perfect hero to gaze lightly at the sweet absurdity of summer sojourns by the sea in an excessively windy shoreline.
There is actually no story in the film. The dialogue is minimal and is only used for ridiculous and meaningless things that summer season tourists say. Sounds of all kinds end up being firecrackers, thrown for comic effect. The film is among the best collection of sight gags yet, however it is the context in which they are set and the setting of the film that elevates it into another world. The central character is an amazing amalgam of bewilderment at the modern world, and his every effort to fit in on his beach vacation devastates the order of things.
A Bucket of Blood (1959)
Funny horror comedy by the king of the b-movie Roger Corman, filmed in 1959. One night, after listening to the words of a poet performing at the cafe The Yellow Door, the dull waiter Walter Paisley returns home to try to create a sculpture of the face of the hostess Carla, but accidentally kills the cat. Shot in record time of 5 days on a budget of only $ 50,000. Roger Corman, in addition to being king of b-movies, is also the king of low budget.
The Great War (1959)
The Great War was comedy at its most sophisticated. His anti-heroic stance towards Italian WWI exploits – which the establishment wanted to either proclaim or, better yet, not review at all – inspired the film. However, it ended up being popular and was exceptionally significant, sharing the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion with Rossellini’s Generale Della Rovere.
Vittorio Gassman and Alberto Sordi are at their best as two soldiers whose goal is only to resist. Their efforts to avoid a fate of fear are extraordinarily amusing, given the circumstances – for Monicelli and screenwriters Age and Scarpelli are right to create an environment in which the debacle of war is clearly evoked – but the ultimate irony of their fate is heartbreaking.
Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
It’s an american horror comedy from 1960 directed by Roger Corman. Written by Charles B. Griffith, the film is a farce about a florist who grows a plant that eats human blood.
Gravis Mushnick owns a flower and designer shop, run by himself and 2 staff members, sweet Audrey Fulquard and awkward Seymour Krelboined. Found on skid row, the rundown shop has little organization. Mushnick fires Seymour when he ruins a flower delivery for evil dentist Dr. Farb. Seymour informs him of a unique plant that he actually grew from seeds he obtained from a “Japanese Garden Enthusiast on Central Avenue.” Seymour confesses that he named the plant “Audrey Jr.”, which excites the real Audrey.
Jack Nicholson, describing the reaction to a screening of the film, said the audience laughed so hard you could barely hear the dialogue. The actor said that he had never had such a favorable reaction from the public before.
Among Corman’s gems, a crazy subject that was written in one evening. A successful film, with entertaining performances provided by the cast and excellent directing results from Corman while working under the self-imposed pressures of fast shooting and a budget plan.
The Apartment (1960)
The Apartment is a romantic comedy with existential reflections on the mistakes of falling in love, especially the fathers of families. It’s also a comedy where the seemingly nice guy becomes negatively affected by everyone who acts on him. Among the great aspects of The Apartment is its sensitivity to office harassment and the negative habits of men in power. It is one of the best rom-coms about work: a film by master Billy Wilder that is worth watching and looks as great as the first time.
In the late 1950s, C.C. “Bud” Baxter is a lonely drudge at an insurance company in New York City. To climb the corporate hierarchy, he allows 4 corporate supervisors to have his apartment on the Upper West Side to spend time with their mistresses. Baxter runs the “reservations” scheme, however the steady flow of women in and out makes his next door neighbors believe he is a playboy, bringing home a different woman every night.
Divorce Italian Style (1961)
Oscar winner, Pietro Germi‘s film tells an excellent story with very intelligent funny moments. The film is full of truly phenomenal camera movements as well as an extraordinary direction by Germi and an excellent performance by Marcello Mastroianni.
Mastroianni plays Ferdinando Cefalù, a man bored with his wife, so much so that he wants to kill her. He wishes to marry Angela, an innocent girl who reciprocates his love. Regardless of being an aristocrat, Ferdinand desires only Angela and her youth and develops a plan to kill his wife.
Convinced that his strategy will definitely work, he begins to imagine the plan and how it will benefit him; everything is quite optimistic for him. Ferdinando’s madness and eccentricity are often represented by body contractions that Mastroianni executes beautifully throughout the film.
Despite being released in 1961, the film is quite different from the comedies typically made at the time. His finest moments are in the role of Mastroianni and in the diabolical project of his character.
A Difficult Life (1961)
The film tells the story of Italian national politics from 1944 to 1960, from the difficulties of the Second World War to the end of fascism and the birth of the Italian Republic up to the rise of the Italian Communist Party. It follows the life of Silvio, who strongly believes that his political activism should be rewarded but in the end he realizes that Italy has changed and must transform with it.
In 1944 the Roman student Silvio Magnozzi (Alberto Sordi), is 2nd lieutenant of the Royal Army in service at Lake Como. After the Italian abandonment of 8 September 1943, Silvio joined a regional partisan group to continue fighting the Nazis who still inhabit the Italian countryside. Trying to find a safe place to stay, he is sent to a hotel. He is found by a German soldier who intends to kill him on the spot. Elena (Lea Massari), the hotelier’s daughter, saves his life by killing the German with an iron. She accompanies him to a shelter: the mill owned by her late grandparents. For three months, he and Elena live together. At the end of that period Silvio leaves without even saying goodbye and joins the partisans.
Il sorpasso (1962)
It is one of the best examples of Italian comedy as it reveals modern Italy of the 1960s with financial growth and also the surge of “nouveau-riche” society, mainly thanks to a rapidly growing market. The duo Gassman and Jean-Louis Trintignant make this set one of the most magical. The distinctions of individuality of both characters, which end with a heartbreaking fate rather unwanted by the comedy’s target audience, make “Il Sorpasso” one of the most fascinating and unusual films.
Bruno Cortona is a womanizer, fanatic of the easy life and passionate about the Italian Dolce Vita, who after having obtained the support of Roberto Mariani, a shy and shy law practitioner who needs to spend the day studying, invites him to spend the day with him on a road trip. A little skeptical, Roberto accepts this unusual request and begins the curious journey across the country.
The duo works perfectly and even the distinction of the characters really radiates in a film that brings us to an understanding of 1960s Italy. Despite their seemingly inevitable differences and conflicts, they end up loving each other.
It seems that Roberto likes Bruno more than Bruno likes him. The difference in individuality is also an allegory and description of the “new life” that was developing in Italy at the time.
This Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is a 1963 American action comedy film directed byStanley Kramer with a story and screenplay by William Rose and Tania Rose. The film, starring Spencer Tracy with an all-star cast, deals with a group of unknown people’s mad pursuit of $350,000 in stolen cash.
“Smiler” Grogan, a prisoner, escapes police security but collides with his car on California State Route 74. 5 drivers stop to assist him: Melville Crump, a dentist on his second honeymoon with his wife Monica; Lennie Pike, furniture moving company; Ding Bell and Benjy Benjamin, 2 friends traveling to Las Vegas; and also J. Russell Finch, a seaweed trader, who goes on a road trip with his wife Emmeline and her loud and ridiculous mother-in-law, Mrs. Marcus. Just before he dies, Grogan tells them about $350,000 hidden in Santa Rosita State Park under “a huge W”. After the team stops looking for a compromise to split the money, they decide to race to find it.
The Pink Panther (1963)
It is a 1963 comedy film directed by Blake Edwards and starring Peter Sellers, David Niven, Capucine and Claudia Cardinale. The film follows the French Inspector Clouseau as he tries to recover a large gem called “The Pink Panther”, stolen by a mysterious thief. The film became famous for Peter Sellers’ performance as Clouseau and the iconic music of Henry Mancini. ‘The Pink Panther’ was followed by several sequels and inspired a series of cartoons.
The first ever in a collection of 5 entertaining films about Peter Sellers’ clumsy pseudo-French infidel detective, Chief Inspector Clouseau, The Pink Panther is also among the most determined, polished, and lazy in the franchise. While hugely entertaining, Sellers’ character only mattered from the second film, A Shot in the Dark, onwards.
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
It is a 1964 film directed by Stanley Kubrick. It is a black comedy about nuclear war, set during the Cold War, and sees Peter Sellers play three different characters. The film follows the aftermath of an accidental nuclear attack launched by the United States against the Soviet Union, and the desperate and mad attempts of the characters to prevent the destruction of the world. The film is considered a cinematic classic and a brilliant satire on international politics and the nuclear arms race during the Cold War. The phone call between the presidents would certainly be enough to certify this black comedy as one of the darkest and funniest films ever, reaching peaks of humor between the awkward and the essential. Some scenes, such as the war sequence, remain among the craziest ever seen.
Simon of the Desert (1965)
Simón, a long-bearded guru, lives on a column in the middle of the desert, almost in total starvation. People worship him as a Messiah. Surreal and critical comedy of the highest level and refinement to religious dogmas by the surrealist genius of Luis Bunuel. Born as a short film project, Simon has become one of the most iconic characters of the great Spanish director. In the original Spanish version, the holy man’s way of speaking is really funny and grotesque, something completely lost in the dubbing.
Take the Money and Run (1969)
It is a 1969 film written, directed and performed by Woody Allen. It is a surreal comedy that follows the life of Virgil Starkwell, a clumsy and bumbling criminal who tries in vain to carry out robberies. The film uses an omniscient narrator to poke fun at Virgil’s life and failures, and is known for its visual humor and experimental narrative. “Take the Money and Run” is considered one of Allen’s early blockbuster films and has had a lasting impact on popular culture.
The plot follows the life of Virgil Starkwell, played by Woody Allen, from childhood to adulthood, focusing on his criminal career. Virgil is a clumsy and clumsy petty thief who tries to pull off bank robberies and other places, but always gets caught by the authorities. Despite being a criminal, Virgil is portrayed as a comical and hapless character whose actions always lead to unpredictable and amusing consequences. Throughout the film, the character marries twice, is in and out of prison, and finds himself embroiled in increasingly bizarre situations.
The narrative is supported by an omniscient narrator who comments and jokes about Virgil’s life, and the film also has some experimental elements, such as the use of black and white screens to represent the actions of the character.
Le Distrait (1970)
Before becoming a big star in the 80s in a duet with Gérard Depardieu in the films of Francis Veber, Pierre Richard revealed his comic ability in more particular films in which he shone with the natural humor that identifies him. Something that cannot be described always involves the famous awkwardness of the character, which reaches a poetic measure behind its comic potency. This goes for Le Distrait, which the star directed himself.
Pierre Malaquet is an imaginative, extremely absent-minded and crazy boy, not of this world, who constantly gets into comic situations. He worked with a big advertising agency “Jerico” at the suggestion of his mother. Concentrated with strange marketing concepts, its ads look like horror movies; death, violence and black humor exist in all of his works. He is convinced that “stunning” ads are the most effective. His actions frustrate his colleagues, however, to their surprise, the strict employer, Mr. Guiton, forgives him for all his quirks: he has a secret affair with Malaquet’s mother, Glycia.
“Bananas” is a 1971 film written, directed by and starring Woody Allen. It is a satirical comedy that follows the adventures of an insecure man named Fielding Mellish, played by Allen, who joins the revolution in a small fictional republic in Latin America. The film is known for its quirky humor, twists and turns, and surreal comedy style, which is characteristic of Allen’s filmography.
The plot of “Bananas” follows the story of Fielding Mellish (played by Woody Allen), a neurotic documentary producer who tries to win the heart of his beloved Nancy (Louise Lasser), a political activist who is committed to the cause of the poor and of the oppressed. After Nancy leaves him, Fielding finds himself experiencing an existential crisis and decides to travel to a small fictional republic in Latin America. There, he meets a group of rebels trying to overthrow the ruling regime and ends up becoming their leader.
Subsequently, the political situation in the country becomes increasingly chaotic and surreal, with Fielding who finds himself involved in a series of comical and absurd situations, such as a basketball game with extravagant rules, a farcical trial in which he is accused of treason and a coup that makes him the new dictator of the country. Along with this main plot, the film also features a series of humorous scenes and gags that satirize various aspects of American society and international politics, always maintaining a surreal and paradoxical comic style.
We All Loved Each Other So Much (1974)
A masterpiece by Ettore Scola, this cult comedy follows 3 friends over the course of 30 years. Gianni, Marco and Nicola meet for the first time as young optimists leading Italy’s battle for liberation from fascism. After the war, they move away, intending to make their dreams come true. In the decades that follow, their lives intersect, reviewing the impact and adaptation of not just their dreams and failures, but those of Italy in general. A romantic comedy of cynical characters who are easily corrupted, with a bitter and melancholy taste about the passage of time and how lives change with social pressures and the inability to maintain one’s consistency. It’s one of those comedies that roll over in existential drama and that at a certain point, with the intensity of the emotions it transmits, it can streak your face with tears.
Frankenstein Junior (1974)
Frankenstein Junior is a Mel Brooks film from 1974 is a timeless horror comedy with incredible actors reaching the top of their acting: Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, and Gene Hackman.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is an American medical school doctor and engaged to Elizabeth. He ends up exasperated when someone brings up the subject of his grandfather Victor Frankenstein, the notorious mad researcher he does not wish to be associated with, and insists that his last name is different and it is “Fronkensteen”. When a lawyer informs him that he has acquired his family’s estate in Transylvania after the death of his great-grandfather, Baron Beaufort von Frankenstein, Frederick takes a trip to Europe to examine the house. At the Transylvania train station, he is joined by a hunchbacked, bug-eyed servant named Igor, whose grandfather worked for Victor. There is also a beautiful woman, the young assistant Inga.
Brooks and Wilder’s Oscar-nominated humorous screenplay flawlessly parodies James Whale’s 1931 horror film Frankenstein. Brooks’ direction creates the feel of those timeless monster movies so well that you get the impression that this is a movie that really belongs to the classics like Dracula and The Wolfman. This is Brooks’ best and also craziest film, among the best horror parodies to see absolutely.
Fantozzi’s films are some of the Italian comedy films most important ever and are actually loaded with idioms and words that are currently part of the Italian language. They tell the life of Ugo Fantozzi, an incredibly unfortunate Italian employee, who frames the customs and habits of the Italian petty bourgeoisie. Cult scenes in huge quantities: Fantozzi and his partner Filini playing tennis, Fantozzi who throws himself from the balcony to catch the bus and arrive at the office on time, the projection of Battleship Potemkin…
Ugly, Dirty and Mean (1976)
It is an extraordinary film, not only for its humorous moments, but also for its grotesque style with powerful content and strong language. It is often referred to as a grotesque comedy as it deviates from dramatic comedies that were still in the rollout phase. Like Fantozzi, this one also came out in the second half of the 1970s, developing a new type of Italian comedy, building a plot with comic elements full of meaning.
It is, by far, Nino Manfredi’s toughest role, where he plays a grotesque and rude man with only one eye. Giacinto lives with all of his children, grandchildren, their partners, and every type of “family member” you can remember, in a tiny cabin with more than 10 people crammed inside. After losing his eye, his insurance has offered him a large sum, which he refuses to share with the rest of the “family” keeping it under wraps.
“Ugly, Dirty and Mean” makes use of a lot of profanity and sex-related scenes. His daughters are referred to by himself as prostitutes, just as his sons are called pigs, thieves and murderers who only wish to steal his money. The film is a masterpiece that changed the panorama of Italian comedy.
Annie Hall (1977)
Annie Hall, is a arthouse movie framed in the 1977 rom-com genre. Annie Hall is Woody Allen inside out, from his narrative to his female characters. The film has a particular magic: a sweet nostalgic flavor in its lines that have become famous, a melancholic longing for a less complicated time and for a place where everything seemed possible with love.
Comedian Alvy Singer is trying to figure out why his relationship with Annie Hall ended a year ago. Growing up in Brooklyn, he vexed his mother with existential worries, and was precocious in his sexuality, suddenly kissing a schoolmate at 6 and not understanding why she wasn’t eager to kiss back. Annie and Alvy overhear another man mocking the work of Federico Fellini and Marshall McLuhan. That night, Annie has no interest in sex with Alvy. Rather, they discuss his first wife, whose ardor brought him no enjoyment. His second marital relationship was with a New York writer who disliked sports and was unable to orgasm.
Love on the Run (1979)
Truffaut closes the series dedicated to Antoine Doinel with Love escapes. After seven years Antoine and Christine divorce, while remaining good friends. Antoine is in a relationship with Christine’s friend Liliane, he has published an autobiography about his loves and finds work as a proofreader and also begins a cheerful, if tumultuous relationship, with Sabine, a saleswoman in a record store. A sentimental comedy to watch absolutely. Cheerful and melancholy, passionate and detached at the same time, the film proposes the unique style of Truffaut. One of the directors who has been able to best describe love on the big screen of cinemas.
Blues Brothers (1980)
Blues singer and criminal Jake Blues gets out of prison after serving 3 years and is picked up by his brother Elwood in his Bluesmobile, a battered former police vehicle. Elwood shows off his skills by jumping over an open drawbridge. The brothers explore the Catholic orphanage where they grew up and learn from Sister Mary Stigmata that it will be closed unless $5,000 in property taxes are collected. During a sermon by Reverend Cleophus James at Triple Rock Baptist Church, Jake gets an idea: they can reform their band, the Blues Brothers, which broke up when Jake went to jail, and raise the money to save the orphanage.
The Blues Brothers it’s a Funny movie with a wonderfully paced story, hard-hitting screenplay and a riot of cars to keep you occupied whenever Belushi and Aykroyd’s heists are a little too much. Of course, the heart of the film remains in its music: Cab Calloway, Ray Charles and James Brown. It’s Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” that makes you shake in your seat.
Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
Broadway Danny Rose is a 1984 film directed by Woody Allen, which tells the story of an unsuccessful artist manager, Danny Rose, played by Allen himself, who finds himself involved in a series of misadventures with his clients and his ex-girlfriend. The film is a light-hearted comedy set in the world of New York vaudeville and cabaret in the 1950s. Broadway Danny Rose has been highly appreciated by critics for his irony, ability to grasp the comic side of the most dramatic situations and Woody Allen’s performance.
Woody Allen takes care to both bury and praise his hero Danny Rose in this lyrical portrait of the Great White Way. A perceptive optimist as well as a lifelong dreamer, naïve stage rep Danny dotes on his sad stable of blind xylophonists, professional tap dancers, ice-skating penguins dressed, usually, as Hasidic rabbis. Yet it is so clear to everyone else that an age is passing quickly. While he’s certainly a mere comic character, Allen gives him a compassionate, grief-stricken, loving look.
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Woody Allen he has said several times that The Purple Rose of Cairo is among his favorite films he has directed, and it is no surprise: it is his most creative and compassionate film. Delivering her best performance of the 13 films she has made with the director, Mia Farrow plays a lonely woman who goes to the cinema to live out her dreams through her favorite stars. Even as hasty Tom Baxter (a young Jeff Daniels) walks off the screen and into her life, he keeps his feelings and expectations in check. The film whimsically builds towards a heartbreaking and elegiac last act that suggests, as extraordinary as it sounds, why we go to the movies.
She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
Spike Lee makes his directorial debut with this one independent film low-budget, black-and-white, which ended up being among the most crucial films of the 80s to encourage indie production. Lee brings a never-before-seen voice and likelihood to the screen in a film that’s wise, adventurous, and entertaining. The main theme of women’s freedoms is still relevant 30 years later.
Nola Darling is a young artist who lives in Brooklyn and manages 3 suitors: the well-meaning and dutiful Jamie Overstreet, the self-absorbed Greer Childs and the bicycle rack Mars Blackmon. Nola is involved with each of them, but refuses to give herself completely to any one, instead appreciating her individual flexibility, while each boy wants her for himself.
This Italian black comedy takes place in a cemetery where the deceased meet every night. They are doomed not to enter the next stage of immortality, until the last living human who remembers them dies. With the recollection of their lives, the different personalities are introduced: Alma, a film actress (Carol Alt) who witnesses every night the futile attempt of her ex-lover (Malcolm McDowell) to commit suicide on his grave; Angelo, a womanizer (Andy Luotto) who died of embarrassment; Felice and Giggetto, two beggars (Eraldo Turra and Luciano Manzalini) who quickly leave the group as the last woman (Mariangela Melato) who remembers them dies while visiting their grave. The narration is interrupted by the arrival of Lucillo (Sergio Rubini), a soldier who has been presumed dead in Lebanon and who is also forced by his fellow villagers to pretend that this is true, since they have built a monument to him, who has become a popular hero . The guardian of the cemetery Domenico (Vittorio Gassman) is unaware of everything that happens.
Drunken Master (1994)
It is a 1994 Hong Kong kung fu comedy action film directed by Lau Kar-leung and starring Jackie Chan as a Chinese martial arts master. It is the sequel to Chan’s 1978 film Drunken Master, directed by Yuen Woo-ping. A jaw-dropping action-packed film that sets something of a standard: a better battle scene could not be filmed. 6 years after its release in Asia, and over twenty years after the initial Drunken Master made Jackie Chan a star in Hong Kong, The Legend of Drunken Master may be the most jaw-dropping kung fu action comedy yet. The film showcases Chan in his effortless magnificence, jaw-dropping in his ability to make complex duels look entertaining. Jackie starred in and directed a number of action films in her pre-Hollywood days. This may be his masterpiece.
The film is set in early 20th century China. Wong Fei-hung, as well as his father Wong Servant and kei-ying Tso, are in Canton after a trip to the northeast when they meet Fu Wen-chi, a former military man of the Qing period. After an exchange, Wong and Fu inadvertently switch their packages. Wong finishes off with the imperial seal while Fu receives ginseng Wong’s father had purchased for a customer. Unidentified by Wong, the imperial seal is among many Chinese artifacts that the British consul is attempting to smuggle from China to Britain.
City of Fear (1994)
The film begins with a preview of Red Is Dead, a film horror about a serial killer communist eliminates his victims with hammer and sickle, on the first day of the Cannes event. When the credits roll, everyone leaves the theater except Odile Deray, who is trying to get a positive assessment of the film by asking a critic to write a good article, but the critic refuses. As Odile leaves the cinema dissatisfied, the film’s projectionist is killed by an assassin the same way seen in the film.
It is now a film cult timeless that needs no introduction in the field of French comedy. Its many cult scenes that haven’t aged since its 1994 release are served up by the band of Dummies who find themselves in the company of a killer of projectionists in the middle of the Cannes film festival. Among the funniest roles that Gérard Darmon has ever performed.
The RoyaI Tenenbaum (2001)
It is a 2001 American comedy film directed by Wes Anderson. The film is a comedy-drama that follows the story of the Tenenbaum family, a family of intellectuals and eccentrics in New York City. The film revolves around Royal Tenenbaum (played by Gene Hackman), a father who betrayed and abandoned his family years ago, and who now tries to reconcile with his children, Chas (played by Ben Stiller), Margot (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) and Richie (played by Luke Wilson).
The film was critically acclaimed for its brilliant writing, top-notch acting and visionary direction by Anderson. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The film is considered one of Wes Anderson’s best films and a modern classic of the independent cinema American.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson and Ben Stiller play the brothers, who move in a setting typically by Anderson, with hyper-stylized features and pastel shades. The screenplay contains so many good ideas, however it is the unfortunate narrative about love and dissatisfaction that gives the film its magic.
Festival in Cannes (2001)
Cannes, 1999. Alice, an actress, wants to direct an independent film, and is looking for financiers. She meets Kaz, a talkative businessman, who promises her $ 3 million if she uses Millie, a French star who has passed her youth and no longer finds interesting roles. The popular independent filmmaker Henry Jaglom, little known in Europe, shoots a sentimental comedy with great stylistic freedom, which looks like a documentary and focuses on the performances of the actors with a spontaneous and fluid improvisation method, inspired by the cinema of Cassavetes.
First Bite (2006)
Gus is a handsome man who works as a cook in an oriental restaurant in Montreal. His boss sends him to a remote island in Thailand to meet a master of Zen cuisine and improve the quality of his dishes. There he meets a mysterious woman named Lake who lives in a cave and informs him that the Zen cooking master is dead.
First Bite is a very original Canadian independent film that crosses different film genres in its narration, suddenly passing from romanticism to suspense to horror. Between mysticism, black magic, love stories and tropical islands, Primo bite is the odyssey of a man who remains prisoner in a trap from which he can no longer escape, lost between passions and exotic foods.
Hollywood Dreams (2007)
Ambitious actress Margie Chizek seeks stardom in Hollywood. She is rejected by the movie scene, she falls in love, she discovers the deception behind the world of advertising and marketing. Rescued from ruin by a kindly producer, Margie enters the world of Hollywood and she falls in love with a young actor, who is developing her career by pretending to be gay. Hollywood Dreams engages audiences with Tanna Frederick’s extraordinary performance and her character as a tormented and mentally unstable actress.
Chasing Butterflies (2009)
Nina runs away from home hours before her wedding. In order not to postpone the wedding, her mother, she pretends to be Nina and marries her betrothed. Not long after they begin the quest to find Nina and bring her back: Nina’s boyfriend is sure she doesn’t love him anymore. A 15-year-old nerdy boy meets Nina on the street and tries to impress her with her father’s Corvette. Meanwhile, a rebellious girl and her boyfriend who has just escaped from prison meet the boy and steal his Corvette, spreading panic with a series of thefts as they head to Canada, in search of a better life.
Queen of The Lot (2010)
An electronic ankle bracelet and house arrest aren’t enough to stop aspiring actress Maggie Chase (Tanna Frederick) from pursuing her goals: become famous in the world of cinema and find a romantic relationship. Maggie wants to get to star in films of the highest quality and leave the world of B movies.
Director Henry Jaglom seems to have experienced firsthand the frustrations and absurdities of the mainstream Los Angeles film industry and how it vampirizes the souls of the people within it. Another of Jaglom’s qualities as a writer and director is his ability to tell a dramatic story and at the same time love his characters without sentimentality. Queen of the Lot is an independent film with a clearly recognizable style of an author outside the box and banality of commercial films. Tanna Frederick is again a passionate and talented actress in Jaglom’s service.
Joachim Zand, a TV producer in crisis, returns to France after a long stint in the United States. Joachim had cut off all relations in France: friends, enemies, children. Inspired by John Cassavetes’ 70s American independent cinema. The main character is played by the director himself, who proves to be a high-level actor. Presented at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Fipresci award and the award for best director. Very interesting film, not to be missed.
Thelma, Louise et Chantal (2012)
It’s a 2010 French comedy film directed by Fabien Onteniente. The plot follows three middle-aged French friends who go on a road trip to Spain to attend a wedding, but find themselves involved in a series of adventures and misadventures. The cast includes actors Jane Birkin, Caroline Cellier and Catherine Jacob in the lead roles. The film received mixed reviews from critics, but was appreciated by audiences for its humor and portrayal of independent, mature women.
The film tells the story of three French friends, Thelma (played by Jane Birkin), Louise (played by Caroline Cellier) and Chantal (played by Catherine Jacob), who decide to go on a road trip to Spain to attend a wedding . Along the way, the three women encounter several comical and unexpected situations, including having their car stolen, meeting a biker gang, and spending the night in a police cell. Meanwhile, their family and friends worry about their disappearance and try to track them down.
The Most Beautiful Day (2017)
Andi is a pianist admitted to a pulmonary fibrosis clinic, waiting for a donor for a transplant that may not arrive in time. Benno is a thief hospitalized in the same clinic for brain tumor and the diagnosis leaves him little time to live. Benno manages to convince the shy Andi to follow him in the crazy idea of him: they run away from the clinic where they are hospitalized and find some money to take a trip to Africa to live the best day of their lives.
An on the road aboard a camper that crosses Southern Africa, from Mombasa to Cape Town. A journey that becomes a metaphor for the meaning of life. The most beautiful day chooses the tone of the comedy to tell a dramatic theme such as that of death and terminal illness, finding balance in the interpretation of the two protagonists that never ends in patheticism.
The Astronot (2018)
The Astronot follows the journey of Daniel McKovsky, a wandering and lost soul who has spent the past 30 years of his life alone, gazing at the stars through his trusty brass telescope. Memories of his father’s disappearance during World War II haunt Daniel’s mind as he continues to search for purpose in life. Growing up without his mother and left to fend for himself in the woods of central Oregon, Daniel dreams of becoming an astronaut and exploring the vast unknown reaches of space. However, the irony of his situation is not lost on him, as he remains trapped in his isolated world.
The Astronot is a romantic comedy with a vintage aesthetic that takes place in a remote rural area of the United States. Despite its lighthearted tone, the film explores the challenges that life can bring and the impact they have on Daniel’s journey. His tragic experiences create a deep empathy with the audience, as they witness a funny and endearing character struggling to find his place in the world. With its mix of humor and drama, The Astronot is a unique and captivating film that will leave viewers rooting for Daniel’s success.
Slow Life (2021)
Lino Stella takes a period of vacation from his alienating job to devote himself to relaxation and his passion: drawing comics. But he did not foresee certain disturbing elements. A very black and surreal comedy by the director Fabio del Greco, that takes on the tones of thriller and horror at the end. The theme is that experienced by citizens every day on their own skin: the persecution by the state, taxes, condominium rules, the bureaucracy that crushes us as individuals. An anarchic and ambitious independent film that leads us to reflect on how the human being is reduced to the wheel of a cog. A cog that is not interested in his happiness or his dignity. To watch absolutely.