Comedies from the 70s and 80s: hilarious classics and hidden gems

The funniest comedies of the 70s and 80s
Take the Money and Run (1969)
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)
Where's Poppa? (1970)
A New Leaf (1971)
Bananas (1971)
Harold and Maude (1971)
What's Up Doc? (1972)
The Heartbreak Kid (1972)
Sleeper (1973)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Nuts in May (1976)
Annie Hall (1977)
Animal House (1978)
Life of Brian (1979)
The Jerk (1979)
Being There (1979)
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Airplane! (1980)
Gregory's Girl (1981)
Tootsie (1982)
Trading Places (1983)
The Man with Two Brains (1983)
Risky Business (1983)
This is Spinal Tap (1984)
Top Secret! (1984)
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Evil Dead II (1987)
Withnail and I (1987)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
Beetlejuice (1988)
Heathers (1988)
The Naked Gun: From the Files of 'Police Squad' (1988)
The funniest comedies of the 70s and 80s

It was a golden age for comedy. Many babyboomers and generation X-ers will remember with nostalgia the hilarious films made in their younger years. Here's a list of the best comedies of the 1970s and 1980s, compiled by the British filmmaker Edgar Wright and published by Letterboxd. As the maker of films such as 'Baby Driver' or 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World', Wright knows a thing or two about funny movies.

Take the Money and Run (1969)

'Take the Money and Run' - It's 1969 but this movie matches the style that would characterize the 1970s in funny movies. In one of Woody Allen's craziest comedies, the protagonist is an incompetent, clumsy and neurotic man named Virgil Starkwell.

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)

'Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice' - These four friends, two couples, open up to each other on a weekend with unending possibilities. An unresolved sexual tension is constantly fluttering.

Where's Poppa? (1970)

'Where's Poppa?' - Critics speak of it as an "eschatological, violent and wild" comedy. Do you dare? It won't leave you indifferent (at all).

A New Leaf (1971)

'A New Leaf' - Elaine May and Walter Matthau in a comedy about a bankrupt man and an inept botanist with a lot of money. Laughter is guaranteed and May's performance is outstanding.

Bananas (1971)

'Bananas' - Woody Allen again, here in a political satire on the Cuban Revolution. The film is atypical and has a variety of humorous sketches woven into the story.

Harold and Maude (1971)

'Harold and Maude' - Upon its release in 1971, the film was a critical and box-office failure. However, over the years, like some wines, it aged quite wel, and now it's a cult film for many. 'Harold and Maude' is a love story full of black humor and drama.

What's Up Doc? (1972)

'What's Up Doc?' - Barbra Streisand, Ryan O'Neal, and Madeline Kahn are caught up in a love triangle on the streets of San Francisco. Really delicious.

The Heartbreak Kid (1972)

'The Heartbreak Kid' - A black comedy about love and hypocrisy that is masterfully performed by Charles Grodin, Jeannie Berlin and Eddie Albert.

Sleeper (1973)

'Sleeper' - Yes, Edgar Wright, the creator of this list, loves Woody Allen's films. The movie 'Sleeper' is filled with futuristic ideals and influenced, in part, by George Orwell's '1984'.

Blazing Saddles (1974)

'Blazing Saddles' - This is an absolute classic that any movie (history) lover must have seen at least once. You'll see Mel Brooks playing all kinds of characters, each of them equally crazy.

Young Frankenstein (1974)

'Young Frankenstein' - This one is for the lovers of horror film parodies. The film offers an alternative (and crazy) version of Mary Shelley's original work.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' - The legendary humor collective does its job in this crazy comedy centered on the year 932 and an important assignment from King Arthur.

 

See also: Monty Python, British humor, and other things that distinguish Britons from continental Europeans

Nuts in May (1976)

'Nuts in May' - A TV film by the BBC that tells the adventures and misadventures of a couple in crisis who decide to spend a few days in the country.

Annie Hall (1977)

'Annie Hall' - There was a rainfall of Oscars for this romantic comedy starring Woody Allen himself alongside a wonderful Diane Keaton. Quite a few critics call this one of the best comedies in the history of cinema.

Animal House (1978)

'(National Lampoon's) Animal House' - A film that focuses on the adventures and misadventures of a group of male university students. Laughter is guaranteed.

Life of Brian (1979)

'Life of Brian' - Many film critics consider this the best comedy in the history of cinema. It's a parody of the life of Christ with the uniquely hilarious Monty Python stamp.

The Jerk (1979)

'The Jerk' - Steve Martin displays all his talent for comedy as Navin Johnson, an unlucky guy whose life is completely changed by making a fortune with a state-of-the-art invention.

Being There (1979)

'Being There' - This was the second to last film starring Peter Sellers, who would die a year later. The film is based on a Polish-American novel by Jerzy Kosinski

The Blues Brothers (1980)

'The Blues Brothers' - They were born in a musical sketch of the famous American TV show 'Saturday Night Live' and later became the main characters of a legendary comedy.

Airplane! (1980)

'Airplane!' - This is a parody of the disaster films that were so fashionable at the end of the 1970s. It's a cult classic for lovers of absurd humor.

Gregory's Girl (1981)

'Gregory's Girl' - The story is set in a Scottish town. We've got, on the one hand, Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair), and on the other, Dorothy (Dee Hepburn). They like each other very much and go through all kinds of crazy situations.

Tootsie (1982)

'Tootsie' - Sydney Pollack directs Dustin Hoffman and Jessica Lange in one of the best films in the history of cinema. Jessica Lange won an Oscar, the movie as a whole got a Golden Globe, and Dustin Hoffman took home a BAFTA beside many other nominations and awards.

Trading Places (1983)

'Trading Places' - A comedy of entanglements with a great Jamie Lee Curtis, Eddie Murphy, and Dan Aykroyd.

 

Read more about Jamie Lee Curtis and her difficult childhood

The Man with Two Brains (1983)

'The Man with Two Brains' - Everything changes when a neurosurgeon hits a woman with his car and then saves her himself. In love with her brain, he ends up marrying her.

Risky Business (1983)

'Risky Business' - A very young Tom Cruise dances around a room in his underwear: it was to be a historic scene in 80s cinema. The rest of the movie is quite funny too.

This is Spinal Tap (1984)

'This is Spinal Tap' - This fake documentary of a heavy metal band was created by Rob Reiner as a parody of the popular genre of rockumentaries. Although the band was fictional and created for the film, it released several albums after the movie became a hit.

Top Secret! (1984)

'Top Secret!' - This crazy comedy shows a young Val Kilmer as an American rock star travelling to Germany to perform at an important cultural festival. Things don't turn out the way he thought they would, though.

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

'Pee-Wee's Big Adventure' - What the good Pee-Wee Herman goes through to get his bike back, is worth an entire movie. And they do it very well in this film that marked 1980s' comedy.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' - A comedy that defined a whole generation. Very much worth seeing if you want to know what excited the youth of the 1980s and why Matthew Broderick was such a big star.

Raising Arizona (1987)

'Raising Arizona' - The protagonists, played by Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter, steal a baby after they have been denied adoption many times. Written and produced by the Coen brothers, the film is delightfully crazy.

Evil Dead II (1987)

'Evil Dead II' - Some people say that sequels are never as good as the initial movie. In this chase, though, they are wrong. Still, to understand the second part of 'Evil Dead,' one must look at the first. Humor and terror, what more could you ask for?

Withnail and I (1987)

'Withnail and I' - This British independent comedy focuses on the lives of two young London actors who are going through a harsh and cold winter. Very much worth your time.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' - In this comedy by John Hughes, Steve Martin and John Candy play two very different guys who have to share a journey to Chicago full of mishaps.

Beetlejuice (1988)

'Beetlejuice' - Tim Burton gave life to this brilliant comedy in which Michael Keaton plays a strange being that is scary and funny at the same time.

Heathers (1988)

'Heathers' - This is not just another teenage comedy from the 1980s. It is great as a film in itself while also starring Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty at a young age.

The Naked Gun: From the Files of 'Police Squad' (1988)

'The Naked Gun' - This would be the first of three hilarious movies by the creators of the cult TV show 'Police Squad.' Leslie Nielsen plays the crazy Lieutenant Frank Drebin who goes through thousands of fun situations to solve a case and take down the bad guys.

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