The next time you come home exhausted from work, do yourself a favor and break out this list of funny movies. Once you’ve found one you like, grab it from the local video store and watch all the stress melt away through the healing power of laughter (Patch Adams would back me up on this). While modern readers may be unfamiliar with the following films, look at it as an opportunity to experience the comedy greats of a bygone generation.
The Apartment (1960) – Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine demonstrate their on-screen chemistry in this Billy Wilder romantic comedy. Lemmon is C.C. Baxter, a lowly employee who allows his superiors to use his apartment for extramarital trysts. When he falls for an elevator operator (MacLaine), he’s forced into choosing between love and his career. Controversial for its time, The Apartment was nominated for 10 Oscars and won five (including Best Director and Best Picture).
Groundhog Day (1993) – Bill Murray adds another comedy gem to his resume in this warm-hearted story about a self-absorbed television weatherman who slowly changes his outlook on life when he’s forced to relive the same day over and over. Andie MacDowell co-stars as the good-natured TV producer who wins his heart in the end. A true showcase for Murray’s talents as a smart alec. Directed and co-written by Harold Ramis (who co-starred alongside Murray in Ghostbusters).
Cat Ballou (1965) – Lee Marvin won a Best Actor Oscar for his dual role as rival Old West gunfighters (one’s a drunk and the other has a metal nose) on either side of a dispute over a ranch. Jane Fonda is the loyal daughter who becomes an outlaw to see her father’s killer brought to justice, and the movie’s theme and narration are delivered by Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole. Even though it’s primarily a comedy, Cat Ballou is still viewed as one of the greatest films of the western genre.
She Done Him Wrong (1933) – Filled with famous double entendres, this Mae West vehicle stars the buxom blonde as a bar singer who’s mixed up with plenty of shady characters. A young Cary Grant co-stars as a federal agent pretending to be the director of a local charity. As he seeks to put an end to the illegal activities taking place at the bar where she works, West begins the process of seducing the young do-gooder. Clocking in at 66 minutes, it still holds the record as the shortest film to ever be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
Father of the Bride (1950) – When his daughter announces that she’s getting married, a father (Spencer Tracy) must frantically take care of the expenses and make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Nominated for thee Academy Awards, the comedy classic co-starred Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Bennett, and Leo G. Carroll. The following year saw the sequel, Father’s Little Dividend, hit theaters, and Steve Martin would headline a successful remake in 1991.
Silver Streak (1976) – Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor team up for the first time in this Arthur Hiller film that combines elements of the comedy and thriller genres. Wilder plays a book editor traveling from L.A. to Chicago on the train known as the Silver Streak, when he suddenly finds himself caught up in murder and intrigue stemming from the forgery of two Rembrandt paintings. Jill Clayburgh is the love interest, Pryor is a wily thief who lends a hand, and Patrick McGoohan is the villain who doesn’t take kindly to being exposed as a criminal.
From Mae West to Richard Pryor, this list of funny movies should appeal to a wide range of viewers. And best of all, they’re available on DVD through online sites such as Netflix and Amazon. Better yet, many older movies are pretty cheap when it comes to buying them for your collection.