Sterling Hayden explaining the way things are to Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove (1964).

Sterling Hayden explaining the way things are to Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove (1964).

You’ll notice I didn’t say the 100 Funniest Comedies. Because it’s the 100 Best. That was the problem with the way AFI did their Comedy list; they tried to make funniest mean the same things as best. Now the funniest films, in order from 1 to 5 for me would be: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, A Fish Called Wanda, Airplane, The Producers and Blazing Saddles. They’re not the 5 best (though all are on this list), but they’re definitely the 5 funniest. As for the best? Well, since I have so much a longer list to choose from for this category, I went with a top 100. I’ve attached a quote for each film. Some you may not find funny. Some won’t make sense unless you’ve seen the film. And I don’t include films I’ve already categorized in another genre’s list (like The Princess Bride or Almost Famous). So here they are – the 100 Best Comedies.

100. Truly Madly Deeply (Anthony Minghella) – 1991

“Parents alive, Gloucestershire, teachers. Him geography, her history. So holidays it would be ‘Dad, where are we? Mum, have we been here before?’ ”

99. To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch) – 1942

“What he did to Shakespeare we are doing now to Poland.”

98. Harvey (Henry Koster) – 1950

“Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be’ – she always called me Elwood – ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”

97. Morgan (Karel Reisz) – 1966

“Charles Napier! I cannot allow you to sleep with my wife. I don’t like it. It makes me feel funny in my head.”

96. The Hospital (Arthur Hiller) – 1971

“I mean, where do you train your nurses, Mrs. Christie – Dachau?”

"And stop calling me Shirley."

"And stop calling me Shirley."

95. Airplane (Zucker, Zucker and Abrahams) – 1980

“Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”

94. To Die For (Gus Van Sant) – 1995

“It’s nice to live in a country where life, liberty… and all the rest of it still stand for something.”

93. Singles (Cameron Crowe) – 1992

“What if the superher rejects the superyou?”

“It doesn’t matter. It was all an act. I live my life like a French movie.”

92. One, Two, Three (Billy Wilder) – 1961

“You will send papers to East Berlin with blond lady in triplicate.”
“You want the papers in triplicate, or the blond in triplicate?”
“See what you can do.”

91. The Moon is Blue (Otto Preminger) – 1953

“Isn’t it better to be preoccupied with sex than occupied?”

90. The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey) – 1937

“And if you get bored in Oklahoma City, you can always go over to Tulsa for the weekend!”

89. My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava) – 1936

“Mr. Bullock, there’s a hansom cab driver waiting to see you in the kitchen.”
“What’s he want?”
“He wants $50 and his horse.”
“What horse?”
“The one Miss Irene rode up the front steps last night.”
“Where is his horse? I haven’t got it!”
It’s in the library, where Miss Irene left it.”

88. The Station Agent (Thomas McCarthy) – 2003

“How about you? What made you pick Newfoundland?”

“I wanted to live near Joe!”

87. Grosse Pointe Blank (George Armitage) – 1997

“I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How have you been?”

86. Best in Show (Christopher Guest) – 2000

“We met at Starbucks. Not at the same Starbucks but we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street from each other.”

85. In the Bleak Midwinter (Kenneth Branagh) – 1995

“I’d always wanted to live my life in an old movie, sort of a fairytale, you know. Mind you, I suppose, if you think that most fairytales turn out to be nightmare and a lot of old movies are crap, then that’s what I did.”

84. Breaking Away (Peter Yates) – 1979

“I didn’t want you to be this miserable. A little bit’s all I asked for.”

83. Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby) – 1971

“Uh, what do you find fulfilling? What gives you that… special satisfaction?”

“I go to funerals.”

82. The Americanization of Emily (Arthur Hiller) – 1964

“I believe in honor, service, courage, and fair play, and cricket, and all the other symbols of British character. Which have only civilized half the world!”

“You British plundered half the world for your own profit, let’s not pass it off as the age of enlightenment.”

81. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch) – 1940

“Well Doctor, I would say it’s a nervous breakdown. What do you think?”
“It appears to be an acute epileptoid manifestation and a pan phobic melancholiac with indication of a neurasthenia cordus.”
Is that more expensive than a nervous breakdown?”

80. Pygmalion (Anthony Asquith) – 1938

“Yes, you squashed cabbage leaf, you disgrace to the noble architecture of these columns, you incarnate insult to the English language, I could pass you off as the Queen of Sheba!”

79. Arsenic and Old Lace (Frank Capra) – 1944

“Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.”

78. The Accidental Tourist (Lawrence Kasdan) – 1988

“I don’t really care for movies; they make everything seem so close up.”

77. Cold Comfort Farm (John Schlesinger) – 1996

“I saw something nasty in the woodshed!”
Sure you did, but did it see you, baby?”

76. The General (Buster Keaton) – 1927

“If you lose this war don’t blame me.” (title card)

75. The Quiet Man (John Ford) – 1952

” I knew your people, Sean. Your grandfather; he died in Australia, in a penal colony. And your father, he was a good man too.”

74. Diner (Barry Levinson) – 1982

“This is why you are so nervous all the time. You have like chunks of roast beef in your heart!”

"This job would be great if it wasn't for the fucking customers."

"This job would be great if it wasn't for the fucking customers."

73. Clerks (Kevin Smith) – 1994

“37. My girlfriend sucked 37 dicks.”

“In a row?”

72. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (Stephan Elliot) – 1994

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: ‘No more fucking ABBA!’ ”

71. Blazing Saddles (Mel Brooks) – 1974

“You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

70. The Great McGinty (Preston Sturges) – 1940

“If it wasn’t for graft, you’d get a very low type of people in politics, men without ambition, jellyfish!”

69. Horse Feathers (Norman Z. McLeod) – 1932

“I married your mother because I wanted children. Imagine my disappointment when you arrived.”

68. The Truman Show (Peter Weir) – 1998

“You were real. That’s what made you so good to watch…”

67. Jerry Maguire (Cameron Crowe) – 1996

“I feel for you, man. But a real man wouldn’t shoplift the pootie from a single mom.”

66. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis) – 1985

“Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn’t take Lorraine out that he’d melt my brain.”

65. Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff) – 2001

“I know, I liked her better when she was an alcoholic crack addict! She gets in one car wreck and all of a sudden she’s Little Miss Perfect and everybody loves her.”

64. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (Michael Winterbottom) – 2005

Tristram Shandy was a post-modern classic written before there was any modernism to be post about. So it was way ahead of its time and, in fact, for those who haven’t heard of it, it was actually listed as number eight on the Observer’s top 100 books of all time.”
That was a chronological list.”

63. American Splendor (Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini) – 2003

“You might as well know right off the bat, I had a vasectomy.”

62. Tootsie (Sydney Pollack) – 1982

“The only reason you’re not dead is that I never kissed you.”

61. Juno (Jason Reitman) – 2007

“Did you hear Juno McGuff’s pregnant?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you hear you’re the father?”

60. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Blake Edwards) – 1961

“I suppose they’re dirty, too, but only incidentally. Mainly they’re angry, sensitive, intensely felt, and that dirtiest of all dirty words – promising. Or so said The Times Book Review, October 1, 1956.”

59. It Happened One Night (Frank Capra) – 1936

“Why didn’t you take off all your clothes? You could have stopped forty cars.”

58. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks) – 1938

“I just went gay all of a sudden.”

57. The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson) – 2001

“How long have you been a smoker?”
22 years.”
“Well I think you should quit.”

56. Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze) – 1999

“Nobody’s looking for a puppeteer in today’s wintry economic climate.”

"I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

"I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone."

55. Bull Durham (Ron Shelton) – 1988

“I held it like an egg.”

“Yeah and he scrambled the son-of-a-bitch. Look at that. He hit the fucking bull. Guy wins a free steak.”

54. Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks) – 1974

“Wait. Where are you going? I was going to make Espresso.”

53. High Fidelity (Stephen Frears) – 2000

“I will now sell five copies of the The Three EP ‘s by the Beta Band.”

52. Zelig (Woody Allen) – 1983

“The Ku Klux Klan, who saw Zelig as a Jew, that could turn himself into a Negro and an Indian, saw him as a triple threat.”

51. You Can’t Take It With You (Frank Capra) – 1938

“When things go a little bad nowadays, you go out, get yourself an -ism and you’re in business.”

50. Adaptation (Spike Jonze) – 2002

“Voiceover. McKee would not approve.”

49. Sabrina (Billy Wilder) – 1954

“An egg. Now, an egg is not a stone; it is not made of wood, it is a living thing. It has a heart. So when we crack it, we must not torment it. We must be merciful and execute it quickly, like with the guillotine.”

48. Bullets over Broadway (Woody Allen) – 1994

“To me, love is very deep. Sex only has to go a few inches.”

47. Hail the Conquering Hero (Preston Sturges) – 1944

“I’ve been saying it for years.”
Well, it isn’t correct grammar.”
“I’m not running on a platform of correct grammar.”

"You go forth to fight for this woman's honor.  Which is probably more than she ever did!"

"You go forth to fight for this woman's honor. Which is probably more than she ever did!"

46. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey) – 1933

“Go, and never darken my towels again.”

45. The Player (Robert Altman) – 1992

“I’ll be there right after my AA meeting.”
Oh Larry, I didn’t realize you had a drinking problem.”
“Well I don’t really, but that’s where all the deals are being made these days.”

44. Tom Jones (Tony Richardson) – 1963

“Tom Jones. Who, from the moment he was born, everyone felt was destined to be hanged.”

43. The Graduate (Mike Nichols) – 1967

“Aren’t you?”

42. Mister Roberts (John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy) – 1955

“Captain, it is I, Ensign Pulver, and I just threw your stinkin palm tree overboard. Now what’s all this crud about no movies tonight?”

41. Broadcast News (James L. Brooks) – 1987

“If anything happens to me, you tell every woman I’ve ever gone out with I was talking about her at the end. That way they’ll have to reevaluate me.”

40. Stardust Memories (Woody Allen) – 1980

“Art is the only thing you can control. Art and masturbation, two subjects which I am an absolute expert upon.”

39. Gosford Park (Robert Altman) – 2001

“And who turns out to have done it?”
Oh, I couldn’t tell you that. It would spoil it for you.”
“Oh, but none of us will see it.”

38. The Sting (George Roy Hill) – 1973

“Doyle, I KNOW I gave him four THREES. He had to make a SWITCH. We can’t let him get away with that.”
What was I supposed to do – call him for cheating better than me, in front of the others?”

37. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam) – 1974

“They were forced to eat Robin’s minstrels. And there was much rejoicing.”

36. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Frank Capra) – 1936

“Why, everybody in Mandrake Falls is pixilated – except us.”

35. The Big Lebowski (The Coen Brothers) – 1998

“We could go to the In and Out.”

34. Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson) – 2000

“What a nice greenhouse.”

“It’s Mrs. Gaskill’s hobby.”

“I thought you were Mrs. Gaskill’s hobby.”

33. The Purple Rose of Cairo (Woody Allen) – 1985

“You make love without fading out?”

32. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (Preston Sturges) – 1944

“That’s not being very helpful.”
What do you want me to do? Learn to knit?”

31. Being There (Hal Ashby) – 1979

“I like to watch.”

30. A Fish Called Wanda (Charles Crichten) – 1988

“Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not every man for himself. And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.”

29. Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright) – 2005

“Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins… And I will never see you again if you do.”

28. Four Weddings and a Funeral (Mike Newell) – 1994

“Excuse me. I think I had better be where other people are not.”

27. Much Ado About Nothing (Kenneth Branagh) – 1993

“She loves me. Why?”

26. Shakespeare in Love (John Madden) – 1998

“Strangely enough, it all turns out well.”
“How?”
I don’t know. It’s a mystery.”

25. When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner) – 1989

“You made a woman meow?”

24. Sideways (Alexander Payne) – 2004

“Come on, man. You know. Hemingway, Sexton, Plath, Woolf. You can’t kill yourself before you’re even published.”
What about the guy who wrote Confederacy of Dunces?”

23. Say Anything (Cameron Crowe) – 1989

“Can I borrow a copy of your Hey Soul Classics?”

“No my brother, you have got to go buy your own.”

22. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges) – 1940

“They say a moonlit deck is a woman’s business office.”

21. Manhattan (Woody Allen) – 1979

“I think that, under my personal vibrations, I could put her life in some kind of good order.”
Yeah, that’s what you said about Jill, and under your personal vibrations she went from bisexuality to homosexuality.”

20. The Producers (Mel Brooks) – 1968

” ‘One morning, Gregor Samsa awoke to find himself turned into a giant cockroach’. No. It’s too good.”

19. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin) – 1925

Charlie Chaplin eating dinner in The Gold Rush

Charlie Chaplin eating dinner in The Gold Rush

18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin) – 1931

“Be careful how you’re driving.”

“Am I driving?” (title cards)

17. The Fisher King (Terry Gilliam) – 1991

“Where would King Arthur be without Guinevere?”
Happily married, probably.”

16. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks) – 1940

“No, no, never mind the Chinese earthquake for heaven’s sake…Look, I don’t care if there’s a million dead…No, no, junk the Polish Corridor…Take all those Miss America pictures off Page Six…Take Hitler and stick him on the funny page…No, no, leave the rooster story alone – that’s human interest.”

15. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Robert Zemeckis) – 1988

“You mean you could’ve taken your hand out of that cuff at any time?”
No, not at any time, only when it was funny”

14. American Graffiti (George Lucas) – 1973

“Your car is uglier than I am. That didn’t come out right.”

13. The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan) – 1983

“Alex and I made love the night before he died. It was fantastic.”
“He went out with a bang, not a whimper.”

12. Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola) – 2003

“I was feeling tight in the shoulders and neck, so I called down and had a Shiatsu massage in my room…”
Mmh, that’s nice!”
And the tightness has completely disappeared and been replaced by unbelievable pain.”

11. The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin) – 1940

“Look up, Hannah.”

10. The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor) – 1940

“What’s this? Is it my book?”
Yes.”
“C. K. Dexter Haven you have unsuspected depth!”
“Thanks, old chap.”
“But have you read it?”
“When I was trying to stop drinking, I read anything.”
“And did you stop drinking?”
“Yes. Your book didn’t do it though.”

9. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder) – 1959

“I’m engaged.”
Congratulations. Who’s the lucky girl?”
“I am!”

8. Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges) – 1942

“Aw, what do they know in Pittsburgh…”
They know what they like.”
If they knew what they liked, they wouldn’t live in Pittsburgh!”

7. The Apartment (Billy Wilder) – 1960

“I said I had no family; I didn’t say I had an empty apartment.”

6. M*A*S*H (Robert Altman) – 1970

“Did Hawkeye steal that jeep?”
No, sir. That’s the one he came in.”

5. Ed Wood (Tim Burton) – 1994

“Worst film you ever saw? Well, my next one will be better.”

"Don't knock masturbation.  It's sex with someone I love."

"Don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love."

4. Annie Hall (Woody Allen) – 1977

“I forgot my mantra.”

3. Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen) – 1986

“How the hell do I know why there were Nazis? I don’t know how the can opener works.”

2. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin) – 1936

“Hey you! Get back to work!”

1. Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick) – 1964

“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.”

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