Entertainment

The Best Comedies of the 1940s 

Ranker Film
Updated July 8, 2019 2.2k votes 434 voters 15.5k views 61 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite film comedies that were released in the 1940s.

The comedy films of the 1940s are a diverse group of films, running the gamut from social commentary, slapstick comedy, comedies of manners, and everything in between. While comedy stalwarts like Charlie Chaplin continued doing significant work in the ‘40s, new faces emerged and old ones reemerged.


The 1940 film
The Philadelphia Story might top your list of the best ‘40s comedy movies. Starring Katherine Hepburn in her first role after a series of disastrous box office flops, the film was a massive hit, receiving six Oscar nominations. Jimmy Stewart won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Charlie Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator is another significant ‘40s comedy movie. A satirical takedown of Adolph Hitler, the film helped turn the tide of public opinion in the United States, and it remains one of Chaplin’s most iconic roles.


Also on this list of the greatest ‘40s comedy movies, you’ll find other classic titles like
His Girl Friday and Arsenic and Old Lace. Vote up the best 1940s comedies below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section. 
list ordered by
1
His Girl Friday is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy

Released: 1940

Directed by: Howard Hawks

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial His Girl Friday is a 1940 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, from an adaptation by Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur of the play The Front Page by Hecht and ...more

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2
Arsenic and Old Lace is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, Peter Lorre, Raymond Massey

Released: 1944

Directed by: Frank Capra

Arsenic and Old Lace is a 1944 American dark comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring Cary Grant, and based on Joseph Kesselring's play Arsenic and Old Lace. The script adaptation was by ...more

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3
The Philadelphia Story ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart

Released: 1940

Directed by: George Cukor

The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart and featuring Ruth Hussey. Based on the ...more

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4
The Shop Around the Corn... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Margaret Sullavan

Released: 1940

Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch

The Shop Around the Corner is a 1940 American romantic comedy film produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, and Frank Morgan. The screenplay was ...more

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5
The Bishop's Wife is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young

Released: 1947

Directed by: Henry Koster

The Bishop's Wife, also known as Cary and the Bishop's Wife, is a Samuel Goldwyn romantic comedy feature film from 1947, starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven in a story about an ...more

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6
The Major and the Minor ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland, Robert Benchley

Released: 1942

Directed by: Billy Wilder

The Major and the Minor is a 1942 American comedy film starring Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland. It was the first American film directed by Billy Wilder, and launched his "incomparable" ...more

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7
Ball of Fire is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Dana Andrews

Released: 1941

Directed by: Howard Hawks

This film is a 1941 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. This Samuel Goldwyn Productions film concerns a group of professors ...more
8
Sullivan's Travels is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Veronica Lake, Preston Sturges, Elsa Lanchester

Released: 1941

Directed by: Preston Sturges

Sullivan's Travels is a 1942 American comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges. It is a satire about a movie director, played by Joel McCrea, who longs to make a socially relevant ...more
9
The Lady Eve is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, Charles Coburn

Released: 1941

Directed by: Preston Sturges

The Lady Eve is a 1941 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges which stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. The film is based on a story by Monckton Hoffe about a ...more

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10
Mr. Blandings Builds His... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas

Released: 1948

Directed by: H. C. Potter

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is an American comedy film directed by H. C. Potter and starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. The film was written and produced by the team of Melvin Frank and ...more
11
Shadow of the Thin Man ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Ava Gardner, Myrna Loy, Donna Reed

Released: 1941

Directed by: W. S. Van Dyke

Shadow of the Thin Man is the fourth of the six The Thin Man films. It was released in 1941 and was directed by W. S. Van Dyke. It stars William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles. ...more
12
Christmas in Connecticut... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Barbara Stanwyck, Sydney Greenstreet, Dick Elliott

Released: 1945

Directed by: Peter Godfrey

Christmas in Connecticut is a 1945 American Christmas film and romantic comedy directed by Peter Godfrey, and starring Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, and Sydney Greenstreet.
13
Anchors Aweigh is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Dean Stockwell

Released: 1945

Directed by: George Sidney

Anchors Aweigh is a 1945 American Technicolor musical comedy film directed by George Sidney and starring Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, and Gene Kelly, in which two sailors go on a four-day ...more

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14
Road to Morocco is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Anthony Quinn

Released: 1942

Directed by: David Butler

Road to Morocco is a 1942 American comedy film starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, and featuring Anthony Quinn and Dona Drake. The film, which was written by Frank Butler and Don ...more

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15
The Great Dictator is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert

Released: 1940

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

The Great Dictator is a 1940 American satirical political comedy-drama film starring, written, produced, scored, and directed by Charlie Chaplin, following the tradition of many of his other ...more

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16
The Palm Beach Story is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Claudette Colbert, Mary Astor, Joel McCrea

Released: 1942

Directed by: Preston Sturges

The Palm Beach Story is a 1942 romantic screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges, and starring Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor and Rudy Vallée. Victor ...more

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17
Adam's Rib is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Judy Holliday

Released: 1949

Directed by: George Cukor

Adam's Rib is a 1949 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor. Domestic and professional tensions mount when a husband (Spencer Tracy) and wife (Katharine Hepburn) work as opposing ...more

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18
The Bachelor and the Bob... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, Shirley Temple, Myrna Loy

Released: 1947

Directed by: Irving Reis

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is a 1947 American comedy, directed by Irving Reis and written by Sidney Sheldon. The film stars Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Shirley Temple in a story about a ...more
19
Abbott and Costello Meet... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Lou Costello

Released: 1948

Directed by: Charles Barton

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, or Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein —although the film is usually referred to as simply Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein—is a 1948 ...more

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20
The Bank Dick is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
W. C. Fields, Shemp Howard, Una Merkel

Released: 1940

Directed by: Edward F. Cline

The Bank Dick is a 1940 comedy film. Set in Lompoc, California, W. C. Fields plays a character named Egbert Sousé who trips a bank robber and ends up a security guard as a result. The ...more
21
Hold That Ghost is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Lou Costello, Bud Abbott, Shemp Howard

Released: 1941

Directed by: Arthur Lubin

Hold That Ghost is a 1941 comedy horror film starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello and featuring Joan Davis, Evelyn Ankers, and Richard Carlson. On August 1, 1941, Abbott and Costello ...more
22
To Be or Not to Be is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack

Released: 1942

Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch

To Be or Not to Be is a 1942 American comedy directed by Ernst Lubitsch, about a troupe of actors in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who use their abilities at disguise and acting to fool the occupying ...more
23
Holiday Inn is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Irving Berlin

Released: 1942

Directed by: Mark Sandrich

Holiday Inn is a 1942 American musical film directed by Mark Sandrich and starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. With music by Irving Berlin, the film has twelve songs written expressly for the ...more
24
I Married a Witch is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Veronica Lake, Susan Hayward, Fredric March

Released: 1942

Directed by: René Clair

I Married a Witch is a 1942 fantasy romantic comedy film, directed by René Clair, and starring Veronica Lake as a witch whose plan for revenge goes comically awry, with Fredric March as ...more
25
A Night in Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Leonard Marx

Released: 1946

Directed by: Archie Mayo

A Night in Casablanca is the twelfth Marx Brothers movie, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, and Harpo Marx. The picture was directed by Archie Mayo and written by Joseph Fields and Roland ...more