Romantic comedies typically follow the same formula: A man and a woman meet cute, resist their initial attraction to each other, conquer humorous and sometimes unbelievable obstacles on their way to love, and end up together at the film’s conclusion. (There are variations — like “Roman Holiday” and “Annie Hall” — in which the lovers eventually go their separate ways, but they’re in the minority.)
Viewed today, the premises of some of these movies strain credibility. It’s hard to believe no one realized that Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are really men in rather gaudy drag in “Some Like It Hot” — but the movie is such a wild romp that it’s just fun to go along for the ride.
Then there’s “Manhattan,” which centers on a 42-year-old dating a 17-year-old. Subsequent accusations against director Woody Allen give the movie a darker tone today than it would have had for audiences when it premiered in 1979. Modern-day viewers can decide for themselves whether the film is hopelessly out of date or just plain objectionable — or whether it’s still one of the best movies you’ll remember if you grew up in the ‘70s.
To identify the best romantic comedies of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a database of over 17,000 movies and calculated an index of each movie’s IMDb rating and both audience score and Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes. IMDb is an online movie database owned by Amazon. Rotten Tomatoes is an online movie and TV review aggregator. Information on each movie’s cast also came from IMDb.
24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of the best romantic comedies of all time. They cover almost 70 years of cinema, from the Silent Era to the ‘90s. A number of them are the so-called “screwball comedies” of the 1930s and ‘40s. Many are classics starring some of the best known comedic actors and romantic leads in film history — like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Katherine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, and Rosalind Russell. (If you’re not quite ready to go back into the theatres again — these are the best comedy movies available to stream right now.)