100 best comedy movies: the list
The 100 best comedy movies, picked by experts from across film, TV and comedy
By Tom Huddleston, David Jenkins, Adam Lee Davies, Derek Adams, Edward Lawrenson, Wally Hammond, Ben Walters, Gabriel Tate and Phil Harrison. Explore the individual top tens of every contributor.
Dir Billy Wilder (Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon)
‘Real diamonds! They must be worth their weight in gold!’
IAL Diamond’s scripts for director Billy Wilder certainly were sparklers. He worked wonders converting the source material of an unpublished story and a laugh-free German farce into this most glorious of Prohibition-era gender-benders. It helped, of course, that everybody involved in the movie was also at the top of their game – including Monroe, despite the on-set mayhem she caused for Wilder. In the event, Monroe turned in the most touching and vulnerable (rather than humorous) performance of her career, as the ukelele-strumming, gin-addicted Sugar, always the receiver of the fuzzy end of life’s lollipop.
As musicians disguised as women in a ruse to escape the mob, Tony Curtis (as Josephine) looked like he was having fun, while Jack Lemmon went overboard as Daphne – ‘We wouldn’t be caught dead with men. Rough, hairy beasts! Eight hands. And they...they all just want one thing from a girl!’ – finding his master in Wilder, with whom he went on to make seven films. And if Wilder himself knew Thurber’s definition of humour – emotional chaos remembered in tranquillity – he majored in the former and jettisoned the latter, fairly delighting in the script’s innuendo and cross-dressing confusions, producing one of the finest, funniest and most audacious comedies of the ’50s. Charles Lang should have won an Oscar for his superb black-and-white cinematography, as should Ted Hayworth for his spot-on period recreations. In the event, the film won one sole Oscar – for Orry-Kelly’s flapper costumes – but then nobody’s perfect, not even the Academy. WH
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