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The Best Romantic Comedies of the 1940s

In the 1940s, Hollywood produced stirring dramas and glittering musicals, but some of the most beloved films of that era are romantic comedies. The best 1940s romantic comedies featured witty banter and swoon-worthy scenes, all delivered by some of the greatest stars to ever grace the silver screen. Whether the plots focused on the screwball complications of love triangles or the smoldering chemistry of a will-they, won't-they relationship, the top 1940s romantic comedies still win over audiences today.

What film should win the top spot on this list of good '40s romantic comedies? The Philadelphia Story, starring Cary Grant, James Stewart, and Katharine Hepburn, is an enduring favorite. This 1940 classic took home Oscars for Best Actor (Stewart) and Best Writing (Donald Ogden Stewart). His Girl Friday, also starring Grant, is another great romantic comedy from the 1940s.

Real life couple Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy appeared in several romantic films of the '40s, including Adam's Rib and Woman of the Year. Holiday Inn, The Lady Eve, and I Married a Witch also appear on this top '40s romantic comedies list.

It's up to you to determine which movie will earn the number-one spot on this list. Give your favorite films a thumbs up and add any of the era's romantic comedies that are missing.
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  • 1

    The Philadelphia Story

    Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant
    69
    15

    Released1940

    Directed byGeorge 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 Broadway  ...more

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  • 2

    His Girl Friday

    Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell
    71
    19

    Released1940

    Directed byHoward Hawks

    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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  • 3

    The Shop Around the Corner

    Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart
    60
    14

    Released1940

    Directed byErnst Lubitsch

    Runtime97

    Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) are employees at Matuschek and Company, a general store in Budapest. Klara and Alfred are constantly at odds with each other, butting  ...more

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  • 4

    The Lady Eve

    Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda
    42
    9

    Released1941

    Directed byPreston Sturges

    Runtime97

    PremieredFebruary 25, 1941

    It's no accident when wealthy Charles (Henry Fonda) falls for Jean (Barbara Stanwyck). Jean is a con artist with her sights set on Charles' fortune. Matters complicate when Jean starts falling for  ...more
  • 5

    The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

    Cary Grant, Myrna Loy
    35
    13

    Released1947

    Directed byIrving Reis

    Runtime95

    PremieredSeptember 1, 1947

    Artist playboy Dickie Nugent (Cary Grant) appears before beautiful judge Margaret Turner (Myrna Loy) for fighting at a nightclub, and charms her into dismissing the charge. That same day, Dickie  ...more
  • 6

    Holiday Inn

    Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire
    33
    12

    Released1942

    Directed byMark Sandrich

    Runtime101

    In this Irving Berlin musical, Jim (Bing Crosby) and Lila are members of a performing trio who plan to quit and run a country hotel. When Lila says she has fallen in love with the dancer in the act,  ...more

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  • 7
    Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn
    36
    16

    Released1949

    Directed byGeorge Cukor

    Runtime101

    PremieredNovember 18, 1949

    A courtroom rivalry finds its way into the household when prosecuting lawyer Adam Bonner (Spencer Tracy) faces off against his wife, Amanda (Katharine Hepburn), who happens to be a defense attorney.  ...more

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  • 8

    Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

    Cary Grant, Myrna Loy
    32
    16

    Released1948

    Directed byH. C. Potter

    Runtime94

    When advertising executive Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) discovers his wife's (Myrna Loy) plan to redecorate their New York apartment, he counters with a proposal that they move to Connecticut. She  ...more

    #276 of 929 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films#611 of 1,142 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time#6 of 60 The Best Comedies Of The 1940s

  • 9

    Woman of the Year

    Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy
    25
    11

    Released1942

    Directed byGeorge Stevens

    Woman of the Year is an American romantic comedy-drama film starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, written by Ring Lardner, Jr., Michael Kanin and John Lee Mahin, directed by George Stevens  ...more

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  • 10

    The More the Merrier

    Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea
    26
    17

    Released1943

    Directed byGeorge Stevens

    Runtime104

    PremieredMarch 26, 1943

    Due to a housing shortage in Washington, D.C., during World War II, Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur) agrees to rent part of her apartment to wealthy retiree Benjamin Dingle (Charles Coburn) and soldier  ...more
  • 11

    Pride and Prejudice

    Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier
    30
    22

    Released1940

    Directed byRobert Z. Leonard

    Runtime118

    PremieredJuly 26, 1940

    In the early 19th century in the English village of Meryton, the arrival of wealthy bachelors, most notably Mr. Darcy (Laurence Olivier), stirs up the families with single daughters. Among those is  ...more

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  • 12

    The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo
    17
    9

    Released1947

    Directed byNorman Z. McLeod

    Runtime108

    PremieredAugust 14, 1947

    A mild-mannered pushover, Walter Mitty (Danny Kaye) longs to be free of his mundane existence, where has to contend with his pushy mother (Fay Bainter) and flighty fiancée (Ann Rutherford), among  ...more
  • 13

    Remember the Night

    Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray
    23
    18

    Released1940

    Directed byMitchell Leisen

    Runtime94

    Moved to pity by the Christmas season, New York District Attorney John Sargent (Fred MacMurray) lets pretty shoplifter Lee Leander (Barbara Stanwyck) out on bail and offers her a ride home to  ...more
  • 14

    You Were Never Lovelier

    Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth
    13
    5

    Released1942

    Directed byWilliam A. Seiter

    Runtime97

    PremieredOctober 5, 1942

    Bob Davis (Fred Astaire), an American dancer in Buenos Aires, Argentina, finds himself desperate for work after losing all his money. He takes a gig at a wedding, hoping to impress the bride's  ...more

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  • 15

    I Married a Witch

    Fredric March, Veronica Lake
    22
    18

    Released1942

    Directed byRené Clair

    Runtime76

    PremieredOctober 30, 1942

    Just as she is about to be burned at the stake for witchcraft, 17th century witch Jennifer (Veronica Lake) casts a curse on the family of her accuser, dooming all the men of future generations to  ...more
  • 16
    Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly
    15
    11

    Released1944

    Directed byCharles Vidor

    Runtime107

    PremieredMarch 30, 1944

    John Coudair (Otto Kruger) was wounded long ago when his fiancée called off their engagement, and when he spots the woman's granddaughter, comely stage performer Rusty Parker (Rita Hayworth), he's  ...more

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  • 17

    The Major and the Minor

    Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland
    13
    13

    Released1942

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    Runtime100

    PremieredSeptember 16, 1942

    Susan Applegate (Ginger Rogers) decides to leave New York City and take a train back to Iowa, but she has only enough money for a child's ticket. She disguises herself as a young girl and, after  ...more

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  • 18

    Mr. & Mrs. Smith

    Alfred Hitchcock, Carole Lombard
    17
    19

    Released1941

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a 1941 screwball comedy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, written by Norman Krasna, and starring Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery. It also features Gene Raymond, Jack Carson,  ...more
  • 19

    The Bride Came C.O.D.

    James Cagney, Bette Davis
    11
    15

    Released1941

    Directed byWilliam Keighley

    Runtime92

    An oil baron (Eugene Pallette) stops his daughter, Jane Winfield (Bette Davis), from eloping to Las Vegas with a band leader (Jack Carson) by hiring hard-up charter plane pilot Steve Collins (James  ...more
  • 20
    Blanche2 added

    That Wonderful Urge

    Gene Tierney, Tyrone Power
    8
    14

    Released1948

    Directed byRobert B. Sinclair

    That Wonderful Urge is a 1948 20th Century Fox screwball comedy film, directed by Robert Sinclair and starring Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney. It is a remake of Love Is News, which starred Power and  ...more
  • 21

    The Devil and Miss Jones

    Jean Arthur, Bob Cummings
    7
    13

    Released1941

    Directed bySam Wood

    Runtime92

    PremieredApril 11, 1941

    John P. Merrick, the world's richest man, is annoyed to hear workers at one of his stores are trying to form a union. Getting a menial job, he's determined to root out the troublemakers, but soon  ...more
  • 22
    Marlene Dietrich, Jean Arthur
    9
    17

    Released1948

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    A Foreign Affair is a 1948 American romantic comedy film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, and John Lund. The screenplay by Wilder, Charles Brackett, and Richard L.  ...more
  • 23

    Mr. Lucky

    Cary Grant, Laraine Day
    7
    14

    Released1943

    Directed byH. C. Potter

    Runtime100

    Joe Adams (Cary Grant) is as clever as they come. Certain that he'll be called up during World War II, Joe nabs the draft papers of a man who's been freed from service and leverages his position into  ...more
  • 24

    Blithe Spirit

    Rex Harrison, Noël Coward
    8
    17

    Released1945

    Directed byDavid Lean

    Blithe Spirit is a 1945 English fantasy-comedy film directed by David Lean. The screenplay by Lean, cinematographer Ronald Neame and associate producer Anthony Havelock-Allan is based on producer  ...more
  • 25

    The Miracle of Morgan's Creek

    Eddie Bracken, Betty Hutton
    9
    19

    Released1944

    Directed byPreston Sturges

    Runtime99

    AdvisoriesAdult Situations

    PremieredJanuary 5, 1944

    In this wacky Preston Sturges comedy, the soldier-smitten Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) discovers that she is both married and pregnant after a raucous troop send-off party. While she has no idea  ...more