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The Best Comedies of the 1940s

Updated July 8, 2019 3.0k votes 500 voters 19.9k views61 items

List RulesVote 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. 
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  • Arsenic and Old Lace1
    103
    34

    Arsenic and Old Lace

    Cary Grant, Peter Lorre

    Released1944

    Directed byFrank Capra

    Arsenic and Old Lace is a 1944 American dark comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring...  more

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  • His Girl Friday2
    94
    32

    His Girl Friday

    Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell

    Released1940

    Directed byHoward 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...  more

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  • The Philadelphia Story3
    88
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    The Philadelphia Story

    Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant

    Released1940

    Directed byGeorge Cukor

    The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor,...  more

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  • The Shop Around the Corner4
    78
    23

    The Shop Around the Corner

    James Stewart, Frank Morgan

    Released1940

    Directed byErnst Lubitsch

    The Shop Around the Corner is a 1940 American romantic comedy film produced and directed by...  more

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  • The Lady Eve5
    63
    21

    The Lady Eve

    Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck

    Released1941

    Directed byPreston Sturges

    The Lady Eve is a 1941 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges...  more

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  • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House6
    57
    21

    Released1948

    Directed byH. C. Potter

    Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is an American comedy film directed by H. C. Potter and...  more

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  • The Bishop's Wife7
    52
    19

    The Bishop's Wife

    Cary Grant, David Niven

    Released1947

    Directed byHenry Koster

    The Bishop's Wife, also known as Cary and the Bishop's Wife, is a Samuel Goldwyn romantic...  more

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  • Christmas in Connecticut8
    49
    18

    Christmas in Connecticut

    Barbara Stanwyck, Sydney Greenstreet

    Released1945

    Directed byPeter Godfrey

    Christmas in Connecticut is a 1945 American Christmas film and romantic comedy directed by...  more
  • The Great Dictator9
    61
    32

    The Great Dictator

    Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard

    Released1940

    Directed byCharlie Chaplin

    The Great Dictator is a 1940 American satirical political comedy-drama film starring, written,...  more

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  • Shadow of the Thin Man10
    41
    13

    Shadow of the Thin Man

    Ava Gardner, Myrna Loy

    Released1941

    Directed byW. S. Van Dyke

    Shadow of the Thin Man is the fourth of the six The Thin Man films. It was released in 1941...  more
  • The Major and the Minor11
    43
    18

    The Major and the Minor

    Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland

    Released1942

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    The Major and the Minor is a 1942 American comedy film starring Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland....  more
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer12
    43
    19

    The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

    Cary Grant, Shirley Temple

    Released1947

    Directed byIrving Reis

    The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is a 1947 American comedy, directed by Irving Reis and...  more

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  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein13
    56
    35

    Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

    Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi

    Released1948

    Directed byCharles Barton

    Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, or Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein...  more

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  • Sullivan's Travels14
    44
    22

    Sullivan's Travels

    Veronica Lake, Preston Sturges

    Released1941

    Directed byPreston Sturges

    Sullivan's Travels is a 1942 American comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges. It...  more

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  • To Be or Not to Be15
    44
    23

    To Be or Not to Be

    Carole Lombard, Jack Benny

    Released1942

    Directed byErnst Lubitsch

    To Be or Not to Be is a 1942 American comedy directed by Ernst Lubitsch, about a troupe of...  more
  • Holiday Inn16
    40
    18

    Holiday Inn

    Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire

    Released1942

    Directed byMark Sandrich

    Holiday Inn is a 1942 American musical film directed by Mark Sandrich and starring Bing Crosby...  more
  • Ball of Fire17
    51
    32

    Ball of Fire

    Barbara Stanwyck, Gary Cooper

    Released1941

    Directed byHoward Hawks

    This film is a 1941 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks and starring Gary...  more
  • The Thin Man Goes Home18
    34
    15

    The Thin Man Goes Home

    Myrna Loy, William Powell

    Released1945

    Directed byRichard Thorpe

    The Thin Man Goes Home is a 1945 motion picture directed by Richard Thorpe. It is the fifth of...  more
  • Adam's Rib19
    38
    19

    Adam's Rib

    Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy

    Released1949

    Directed byGeorge Cukor

    Adam's Rib is a 1949 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor. Domestic and...  more

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  • A Night in Casablanca20
    36
    18

    A Night in Casablanca

    Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx

    Released1946

    Directed byArchie Mayo

    A Night in Casablanca is the twelfth Marx Brothers movie, starring Groucho Marx, Chico Marx,...  more
  • The Palm Beach Story21
    36
    18

    The Palm Beach Story

    Claudette Colbert, Mary Astor

    Released1942

    Directed byPreston Sturges

    The Palm Beach Story is a 1942 romantic screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston...  more
  • Hold That Ghost22
    40
    23

    Hold That Ghost

    Lou Costello, Bud Abbott

    Released1941

    Directed byArthur Lubin

    Hold That Ghost is a 1941 comedy horror film starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello...  more
  • Anchors Aweigh23
    31
    16

    Anchors Aweigh

    Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly

    Released1945

    Directed byGeorge Sidney

    Anchors Aweigh is a 1945 American Technicolor musical comedy film directed by George Sidney...  more
  • The Man Who Came to Dinner24
    27
    11

    The Man Who Came to Dinner

    Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan

    Released1942

    Directed byWilliam Keighley

    The Man Who Came to Dinner is a 1942 American comedy film directed by William Keighley, and...  more
  • I Married a Witch25
    30
    15

    I Married a Witch

    Veronica Lake, Susan Hayward

    Released1942

    Directed byRené Clair

    I Married a Witch is a 1942 fantasy romantic comedy film, directed by René Clair, and starring...  more