(November 6, 1999)
Comedies have been a mainstay of film for as long as cinema has existed. The first silent films presented slapstick comedy and ingenious visual gags that could never be presented on a live stage. Some of the greatest (and most popular) comics to come out of the silent era included Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy. When sound became prevalent, new comedians vied for the spotlight, the best of which were the Marx Brothers. As cinema matured, comedies became more sophisticated and merged different styles. There are now romantic-comedies, comedy-dramas, satires, teen-age romps, and more. Unfortunately, many of the comedies that have come out over the last two decades seem to be following the trend of crass, crude, and often stupid jokes in the (unfortunately usually correct) opinion that they can make a hit by playing to the lowest common denominator of the audience. Still, the quest for fresh, original material has brought us some true gems in recent years, and there is hope for the future with new films such as Rushmore and Election.
Now, I have said that all the choices I've made for these Top 20 lists are personal ones. There is no other film genre where the term "subjective" could be more appropriate!
The Top 20 Comedies:
Other Comedies Worthy of Note: