Entertainment

The Best Comedies of the 1940s  

Ranker Film
1.9k votes 403 voters 14.2k 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
The Philadelphia Story is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart
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
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
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
3
His Girl Friday is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
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
4
The Shop Around the Corner is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Margaret Sullavan
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
5
The Great Dictator is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Billy Gilbert
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
6
Ball of Fire is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper, Dana Andrews
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
7
The Bishop's Wife is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young
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
8
A Night in Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Leonard Marx
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
9
Sullivan's Travels is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Veronica Lake, Preston Sturges, Elsa Lanchester
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
10
The Lady Eve is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, Charles Coburn
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
11
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Sox... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, Shirley Temple, Myrna Loy
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
12
The Palm Beach Story is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Claudette Colbert, Mary Astor, Joel McCrea
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
13
I Married a Witch is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Veronica Lake, Susan Hayward, Fredric March
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
14
Shadow of the Thin Man is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Ava Gardner, Myrna Loy, Donna Reed
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
15
Hold That Ghost is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Lou Costello, Bud Abbott, Shemp Howard
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
16
Anchors Aweigh is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Dean Stockwell
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
17
Abbott and Costello Meet Frank... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Lou Costello
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
18
To Be or Not to Be is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack
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
19
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas
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
20
The Major and the Minor is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland, Robert Benchley
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
21
Christmas in Connecticut is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Barbara Stanwyck, Sydney Greenstreet, Dick Elliott
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.
22
Holiday Inn is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Irving Berlin
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
23
Adam's Rib is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Judy Holliday
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
24
The Talk of the Town is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Lloyd Bridges
The Talk of the Town is a 1942 American comedy/drama film directed by George Stevens, starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman, with a supporting cast featuring Edgar Buchanan and ...more
25
The Bank Dick is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Comedies of the 1940s
W. C. Fields, Shemp Howard, Una Merkel
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