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Romantic comedy is a genre where they really don’t make them like they used to. For whatever reason, Hollywood can’t seem to make a smart romantic comedy anymore. As a result, it’s only natural that the movies chosen on AFI’s Top 10 Top 10 list for romantic comedies skew older. AFI’s definition of “romantic comedy” is as a genre in which the development of a romance leads to comic situations.
1. City Lights
For those of you who haven’t seen this masterpiece by Chaplin, run out and find a copy to watch of this silent gem that’s both funny and heart sublime. This timeless romance between a tramp and a blind flower girl proves that romantic comedies need not be all about witty banter and dialogue. AFI has previously honored City Lights as #76 on its 100 Years…100 Movies, #38 on it’s 100 Years…100 Laughs, #10 on its 100 Years…100 Passions, #38 on its 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains, #33 on its 100 Years…100 Cheers and #11 on its 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition.
2. Annie Hall
This film from neurotic New York filmmaker/psuedo-pedophile Woody Allen has often been called the quintessential modern romantic comedy. AFI previously recognized this movie as #31 on its 100 Years…100 Movies list, #4 on its 100 Years…100 Laughs, #11 on its 100 Years…100 Passions, #90 on its 100 Years…100 Songs, #55 on its 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes and #35 on its 100 Years…100 Movies – 10 Anniversary Edition.
This movie was the first movie to sweep the top 5 categories at the Academy Awards winning Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay (Adapted). That feat would only happen again twice in the history of the Academy Awards (with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Silence of the Lambs). It Happened One Night sets the standard for high concept conflicts and fast paced witty dialogue in romantic comedies. AFI has recognized this movie before at #35 of its 100 Years…100 Movies list, #8 on the 100 Years…100 Laughs, #38 on the 100 Years…100 Passions and #46 on its 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition.
A romantic comedy set in Rome starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn and directed by William Wyler. How could this movie not make this list? Hepburn won an Oscar for this movie as the European princess who learns how to live life when she spends a day on the town with the American reporter who falls in love with her. AFI recognized this movie at #4 on its 100 Years…100 Passions list.
You‘d be hard pressed to find a movie with a better cast than this romantic comedy starring Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and James Stewart. This romantic love triangle keeps you guessing as to who will end up with who as you’re laughing your pants off. AFI previously honored this movie at #51 of its 100 Years…100 Movies, #44 of its 100 Years…100 Passions and #44 on its 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition.
This iconic movie has pretty much set the mold of the romantic comedy in stone for a good fifteen years after its release. While many people remember the fake orgasm scene, that’s actually the movie’s weakest moment. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan hit all the right notes trying to figure out over the years that they love each other in the only romantic comedy since the 1980’s that deserves to be mentioned in the same company as the classics of the genre. AFI previously recognized this movie at #23 of its 100 Years…100 Laughs, #25 of its 100 Years…100 Passions, #60 on its 100 Years…100 Songs and #33 on its 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes.
7. Adam’s Rib
This classic Battle Of The Sexes pits the lovers against each other in the courtroom with a trial that turns into a forum on sexual values and politics of the day. Even though the movie was made and set in the 1940’s, its social commentary is topical even today, that is if you’re not too busy laughing your guts out at the funny moments in the film. AFI has honored this movie as #22 on its 100 Years…100 Laughs list.
This quirky romantic comedy won people over because the characters talk precisely what’s on their minds. Featuring a young Nicholas Cage and Cher at her best, this movie makes you wonder why Hollywood can’t make them like this anymore. AFI has recognized this movie at #41 of its 100 Years…100 Laughs, #17 of its 100 Years…100 Passions and #96 of its 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes.
I’m glad that the AFI recognized this strange indie gem that will turn your idea of a romantic comedy on its head. Like The Graduate, this movie captures the lost feeling of modern youths in a world where it’s good even when it’s bad. And no one will forget the lessons learned from the unlikely romance between Harold and Maude. AFI previously recognized this movie as #45 on its 100 Years…100 Laughs list, #69 on its 100 Years…100 Passions and #89 on its 100 Years…100 Cheers.
Yes, this movie was very popular and is mildly diverting, but you would have to be a clueless, strung out crack whore to think that this mediocre escapade deserves to be on the same company as the rest of the movies on this list. Completely undeserving, AFI did previously recognize this movie at #45 of its 100 Years…100 Passions list.
With the exception of Sleepless in Seattle, you can probably make a case for all the movies that the AFI has chosen. That being said, I think there are many better and more deserving movies but they almost all older films. I believe the AFI probably tried to balance out the list with a few modern inclusions even if they were not worthy. How else could you possibly explain Sleepless in Seattle?
If it were up to the Moose, I would drop Annie Hall, It Happened One Night, When Harry Met Sally…, Moonstruck, and Sleepless in Seattle to make room for the quick witted Cary Grant movies His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby. The Moose would also include the Billy Wilder comedy Some Like It Hot and the Ernst Lubitsch films Trouble in Paradise and The Shop Around the Corner. And as much as the Moose loves Harold And Maude, I would probably drop it to include either the Billy Wilder films The Apartment or Sabrina or the Cary Grant movie The Awful Truth. On second thought, I would pick The Awful Truth and Sabrina and drop City Lights.
As you can see, the Moose’s list would be all older films. It’s not that there hasn’t been any good romantic comedies in the past 30 years, it’s just that they don’t quite compare to the sterling older movies. Maybe it’s because writers now aren’t as smart and literate as they were then, or maybe it’s you’d be hard pressed to find actors that could match with the likes of Cary Grant. If the Moose had to pick a romantic comedy from the past 30 years, I would pick either When Harry Met Sally… or Steve Martin’s L.A. Story with an honorable mention to the James L. Brooks’s As Good As It Gets.
The Moose welcomes all comments and suggestions.