Menu Close

21 Best Comedies of the 1920s: From The Kid to Sherlock Jr. and beyond!

21 Best Comedies of the 1920s: From The Kid to Sherlock Jr. and beyond!

Welcome to the Hilarious World of the 1920s

So you are one of those keen comedy lovers, who like to travel back in time to experience the humor of earlier cinematic eras. So are we!

The 1920s may be a thing of the distant past, but thanks to an enthralling, good old invention called Film, it will never be really gone.

Whenever you miss the 1920s and feel like laughing your heart out, all you have to do, is watching one (or more) of its best comedies.

But which ones should you watch?
Well, if that’s the very question lurking in your mind right now, then you came to the right place. We’re just about to present 21 of the greatest comedy films of the 1920s.

This collection is an episode of FrameTrek’s Best Comedies of All Time. A mega-journey dedicated to identify the funniest films of each cinematic era, chronologically. It starts right here, with the Comedies of the Silent Era and wanders ahead decade-by-decade, all the way to our ever moving present.


So what was on-screen humor like in the 1920s?

No offense to early talkies, but the best comedies of the 1920s are predominantly silent ones. That’s why we included only one talkie on this list.

Silent comedy is one of the most powerful laugh makers ever invented by humanity. It’s an art form that’s simple, but universal, built primarily upon physical comedy, using slapstick and visual gags.

Many of the techniques of silent comedy were borrowed from vaudeville traditions, most of them being humorously exaggerated forms of violence.

Silent slapstick artists go the extra mile to make you laugh by getting soaked with water, slipping on a banana peel, getting pies thrown into their faces and countless other humorous feats.

There are three iconic comedians in feature length silent films; Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. As for early talkies of the 1920s, the Marx Brothers comedy mastermind group is definitely worth mentioning.

So yeah, there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to the comedies of the 1920s, but this article concentrates on the best 21 of them, so let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

After all, the finest way to explore the on-screen humor of an era is, is through watching its funniest films.

Ready? Buckle up then, and let the best comedies of the 1920s make you laugh out loud!



Revealing the Top 21 Comedies from the 1920s

Chronologically


One Week (1920)

One Week (1920), Buster Keaton, Greatest comedy films of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Short silent comedy film co-written, co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: A newly wedded couple attempts to build a house with a prefabricated kit, unaware that a rival sabotaged the kit’s component numbering. (IMDB)

Why is One Week among the best 1920s comedy films?
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ The film contains a high number of innovative visual gags largely pertaining to either the house or to ladders.


The Kid (1921)

The Kid (1921), Charlie Chaplin, Greatest comedies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy drama film written, produced, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin.

Story: The Tramp cares for an abandoned child, but events put that relationship in jeopardy. (IMDB)

Charles Chaplin’ irascible Tramp is given able support from Jackie Coogan as The Kid in this slapstick masterpiece, balancing the guffaws with moments of disarming poignancy.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Kid among the best 1920s comedy movies?
✓ The Library of Congress selected The Kid for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Innovative in its combination of comedic and dramatic elements, it is widely considered one of the greatest films of the Silent Era.


The Goat (1921)

The Goat (1921), Buster Keaton, Most popular comedy movies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Short silent comedy film written, directed by, and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: A series of adventures begins when an accident during photographing causes Buster to be mistaken for Dead Shot Dan, the local bad guy. (IMDB)


Cops (1922)

Cops (1922), Buster Keaton, Most popular comedy films of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Short silent comedy film co-written, co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: A series of mishaps manages to make a young man get chased by a big city’s entire police force. (IMDB)

Why is Cops among the best 1920s comedies?
✓ One of Keaton’s most iconic and brilliantly-constructed short films.
✓ Deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in their National Film Registry.



Safety Last! (1923)

Safety Last! (1923), Harold Lloyd, Most popular comedies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent romantic comedy film co-written by and starring Harold Lloyd.

Story: Lloyd, the store clerk talks his manager into offering $1000 for a publicity stunt, in which a man called “human fly” would climb the face of the 12-storey store building, thus bringing customers nearby.

Persuasive enough to give audiences acrophobia when they aren’t laughing at Harold Lloyd’s antics, Safety Last! is a marvel of visual effects and slapstick comedy.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Safety Last! among the best comedy movies of the 1920s?
✓ The Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ It features one of the most memorable scenes of the Silent Era (Lloyd hanging from the hour hand).
✓ Included in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.


Our Hospitality (1923)

Our Hospitality 1923, Buster Keaton, Funniest movies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: Buster falls in love with a girl on the train to his hometown and accepts her dinner invitation, only to find out that her family has vowed to kill every member of his family.

Why is Our Hospitality among the best comedy films of the 1920s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ It was a groundbreaking work for the comedy film genre, as Keaton included “careful integration of gags into a dramatically coherent storyline”, “meticulous attention to period detail” and “beautiful cinematography and extensive location shooting”.


The Pilgrim (1923)

The Pilgrim (1923), Charlie Chaplin, Funniest films of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film written, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin.

Story: The Tramp is an escaped convict who is mistaken as a pastor in a small town church. (IMDB)


Three Ages (1923)

Three Ages (1923), Buster Keaton, Best 1920s comedy films
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film written, produced, directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: The misadventures of Buster in three separate historical periods. (IMDB)



Sherlock Jr. (1924)

Sherlock Jr. 1924, Buster Keaton, Best 1920s comedy movies
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film co-produced, directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Buster Keaton stars as a movie theater projectionist who dreams of becoming a super-sleuth and, in one breathtaking sequence, literally steps into the screen to bring his fantasies to life. (Amazon)

Why is Sherlock Jr. among the best comedies of the 1920s?
✓ The Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ It is included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and it is also in the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.


The Navigator (1924)

The Navigator (1924), Buster Keaton, Best 1920s comedies
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film co-written, produced, co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: Two spoiled rich people find themselves trapped on an empty passenger ship. (IMDB)

Why is The Navigator among the best 1920s comedy films?
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
✓ Included among the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.


The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush 1925, Charlie Chaplin, Best comedy movies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent adventure comedy film written, produced, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin.

Story: A prospector goes to the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more. (IMDB)

A delightful blend of slapstick humor, poignant emotion, and social commentary, The Gold Rush encapsulates Chaplin’s strengths as a writer, director, and star.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Gold Rush among the best 1920s comedy movies?
✓ Included among the American Film Institute’s 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies and the 2000 list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.
✓ It is included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ One of Chaplin’s most celebrated works, and he himself declared several times that it was the film for which he most wanted to be remembered.


Seven Chances (1925)

Seven Chances (1925), Buster Keaton, Best comedy films of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film co-produced, directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: A man learns he will inherit a fortune if he marries by 7 p.m. that same day. (IMDB)

Why is Seven Chances among the best 1920s comedies?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ One of Keaton’s most successful films, and an all-time silent comedy classic.



The Freshman (1925)

The Freshman (1925), Harold Lloyd, Best comedies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film produced by and starring Harold Lloyd.

Story: A nerdy college student will do anything to become popular on campus. (IMDB)

Why is The Freshman among the best comedy movies of the 1920s?
✓ It was hugely popular at the time of its release, and it is widely considered one of Lloyd’s most hilarious and well-constructed films.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”
✓ Credited as being the very first “sports” movie ever produced, and as such, it inspired many college and sports themed movies of the future.


Go West (1925)

Go West (1925), Buster Keaton, Top comedy movies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film co-written, co-produced, directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: With little luck at keeping a job in the city a New Yorker tries work in the country and eventually finds his way leading a herd of cattle to the West Coast. (IMDB)

This is one of the strangest of Keaton’s films, focusing on a nearly romantic relationship between a man and a cow called “Brown Eyes”.


The General (1926)

The General 1926, Buster Keaton, Top comedy films of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film co-written, co-produced, co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: When Union spies steal an engineer’s beloved locomotive during the American Civil War, he embarks on a lone-wolf rescue mission that takes him behind enemy lines.

Brilliantly filmed and fueled with classic physical comedy, The General captures Buster Keaton at his timeless best.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The General among the best comedy films of the 1920s?
✓ It is included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Selected into the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ In 2007 the American Film Institute ranked this as the #18 Greatest Movie of All Time.


College (1927)

College (1927), Buster Keaton, Top comedies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy drama film co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: The Great Stone Face is a bookworm who condemns all sports. Unfortunately, his girlfriend’s attitude is just the opposite. Afraid of losing her to an athlete, Stone Face goes to college with the intention of becoming a first class athlete himself.



The Kid Brother (1927)

The Kid Brother (1927), Harold Lloyd, Greatest comedy movies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film produced, co-directed by and starring Harold Lloyd.

Story: A sheriff’s milquetoast son has a chance to prove himself when a medicine show run by con artists comes into town. (IMDB)

Harold Lloyd has stated multiple times that this is his personal favorite of all the movies he ever made.

Why is The Kid Brother among the best comedies of the 1920s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
✓ It was successful and popular upon release and today is considered by critics and fans to be one of Lloyd’s best films, integrating elements of comedy, romance, drama, and character development.


The Circus (1928)

The Circus 1928, Charlie Chaplin, Greatest comedy films of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film written, produced, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin.

A little tramp accidentally falls in with a down-on-its-luck circus and his acrobatic and comedic skills start drawing audiences to the big-top in droves, but not without a bittersweet brush with romance for the gentle clown. (Amazon)

Why is The Circus among the top comedy movies of the 1920s?
✓ Featured in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ It became the seventh highest grossing silent film in cinema history.
✓ Chaplin was nominated for four Academy Awards, but the Academy took him out of the running by giving him a Special Award “for writing, acting, directing and producing The Circus”.


Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)

Steamboat Bill, Jr. 1928, Buster Keaton, Greatest comedies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film co-written, co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Steamboat Bill Jr. (Keaton) is the complete opposite of his father in every way. He is utterly inept as a crew member on the boat and he is dating the daughter of his father’s greatest rival.

Why is Steamboat Bill, Jr. among the top comedy films of the 1920s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
✓ Over the years, the film has become regarded as a masterpiece of its era.


The Cameraman (1928)

The Cameraman 1928, Buster Keaton, Most popular comedy movies of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Silent comedy film co-produced, co-directed by and starring Buster Keaton.

Story: Buster is so obsessed with a charming office girl at MGM that he decides to impress her at all costs, so he becomes a cameraman only to photograph the film that would make the girl fall for him.

Why is The Cameraman among the top comedies of the 1920s?
✓ Added to the National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
✓ Upon release, the film was a critical success and a box office hit.
✓ MGM’s writing department used the film to train new writers as a “perfectly constructed comedy” for decades.


The Cocoanuts (1929)

The Cocoanuts (1929), Marx Brothers, Most popular comedy films of the 1920s
Where to Watch?   More info

Pre-Code musical comedy talkie film starring the Marx Brothers.

Story: During the Florida land boom, The Marx Brothers run a hotel, auction off some land, thwart a jewel robbery, and generally act like themselves. (IMDB)

Why is The Cocoanuts among the greatest comedy movies of the 1920s?
✓ It was a big box office hit and one of the most successful early talking films.
✓ Received positive reviews from critics and audiences, with the Marx Brothers themselves earning most of the praise.



…end of the reel…

So there you have it: The 21 Greatest Comedies of the 1920s

If you want to take a look at the movies listed above, without all that info between the titles, here’s a quick recap:

Top 21 Comedies of the 1920s
One Week 1920
One Week (1920)
The Kid 1921
The Kid (1921)
The Goat 1921
The Goat (1921)
Cops 1922
Cops (1922)
Safety Last! 1923
Safety Last! (1923)
Our Hospitality 1923
Our Hospitality (1923)
The Pilgrim 1923
The Pilgrim (1923)

Three Ages 1923
Three Ages (1923)
Sherlock Jr. 1924
Sherlock Jr. (1924)
The Navigator 1924
The Navigator (1924)
The Gold Rush 1925
The Gold Rush (1925)
Seven Chances 1925
Seven Chances (1925)
The Freshman 1925
The Freshman (1925)
*Part of the Collection: Harold Lloyd’s Freshman Duology
Go West 1925
Go West (1925)
The General 1926
The General (1926)
College 1927
College (1927)
The Kid Brother 1927
The Kid Brother (1927)
The Circus 1928
The Circus (1928)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. 1928
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
The Cameraman 1928
The Cameraman (1928)
The Cocoanuts 1929
The Cocoanuts (1929)
*Click any title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options

Ready for another journey?

Explore the best comedies of other decades too!

Next: 1930s

Related Posts

Your turn! Share your thoughts below...