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Best Comedies of the 1970s: From MASH to The Jerk and beyond!

Best comedies of the 1970s

Welcome to the Hilarious World of the 1970s

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 1970s 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 disco era 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 1970s.

This is not your average comedy list featuring only the funniest and stupidest films. We treat comedy as the broad genre it actually is. Thus, we tried to diversify this collection as much as possible.

We picked war comedies, dark comedies, sex comedies, caper comedies, coming-of-age comedies, comedy-dramas, road comedies, science fiction comedies, horror comedies, satirical comedies, adventure comedies, musical comedies, romantic comedies, sports comedies, action comedies and everything in between.

Ready to see the list? Buckle up then, and let the best comedies of the 1960s make you laugh out loud!

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 with the Comedies of the Silent Era and wanders ahead decade-by-decade, all the way to our ever moving present.



Revealing the Top 21 Comedies of the 1970s

Chronologically


MASH (1970)

MASH (1970), Robert Altman, Donald Sutherland, Best 1970s comedy films
Where to Watch?   More info

Black comedy war film directed by Robert Altman and starring Donald Sutherland.

Story: The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and high jinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war. (IMDB)

Bold, timely, subversive, and above all funny, M*A*S*H remains a high point in Robert Altman’s distinguished filmography.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is MASH among the funniest movies of the 1970s?
✓ Winner of Palme d’Or, at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival.
✓ Received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and won for Best Adapted Screenplay.
✓ Deemed “culturally significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.


Harold and Maude (1971)

Harold and Maude (1971), Hal Ashby, Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Best 1970s comedy movies
Where to Watch?   More info

Coming-of-age dark comedy drama film directed by Hal Ashby, starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort.

Story: Young, rich, and obsessed with death, Harold finds himself changed forever when he meets lively septuagenarian Maude at a funeral. (IMDB)

Hal Ashby’s comedy is too dark and twisted for some, and occasionally oversteps its bounds, but there’s no denying the film’s warm humor and big heart.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Harold and Maude among the funniest films of the 1970s?
✓ 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 as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Included among the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.


Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972), Woody Allen, Best 1970s comedies
Where to Watch?   More info

Sex comedy anthology film written, directed by and co-starring Woody Allen.

Story: Seven stories are trying to answer the question: what is sex? Or maybe they are not trying. (IMDB)


The Sting (1973)

The Sting (1973), George Roy Hill, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Best comedy movies of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Caper comedy film directed by George Roy Hill, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Story: Two grifters team up to pull off the ultimate con. (IMDB)

Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and director George Roy Hill prove that charm, humor, and a few slick twists can add up to a great film.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Sting among the best 1970s comedy films?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Received universal acclaim and was hugely successful at the Academy Awards, being nominated for ten Oscars and winning seven, including Best Picture.
✓ Selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.



American Graffiti (1973)

American Graffiti (1973), George Lucas, Best comedy films of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Coming-of-age comedy film directed by George Lucas.

Story: A couple of high school grads spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college. (IMDB)

One of the most influential of all teen films, American Graffiti is a funny, nostalgic, and bittersweet look at a group of recent high school grads’ last days of innocence.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is American Graffiti among the best 1970s comedy movies?
✓  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 as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ It received widespread critical acclaim and became one of the most profitable films ever.


Paper Moon (1973)

Paper Moon (1973), Peter Bogdanovich, Ryan and Tatum O'Neal, Best comedies of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Road comedy-drama film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, starring the real-life father and daughter pairing of Ryan and Tatum O’Neal.

Story: During the Great Depression, a con man finds himself saddled with a young girl who may or may not be his daughter, and the two forge an unlikely partnership. (IMDB)

Expertly balancing tones, Paper Moon is a deft blend of film nostalgia and finely tuned performances — especially from Tatum O’Neal, who won an Oscar for her debut.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Amarcord (1973)

Amarcord (1973), Federico Fellini, Best 1970s comedy films
Where to Watch?   More info

Italian comedy-drama film directed by Federico Fellini.

Story: A series of comedic and nostalgic vignettes set in a 1930s Italian coastal town. (IMDB)

Ribald, sweet, and sentimental, Amarcord is a larger-than-life journey through a seaside village and its colorful citizens.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Amarcord among the best 1970s comedies?
✓ Featured in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ The film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and was nominated for two more Academy Awards.


Sleeper (1973)

Sleeper (1973), Woody Allen, Best 1970s comedy movies
Where to Watch?   More info

Science fiction comedy film written, directed by and starring Woody Allen.

Story: A nerdish store owner is revived out of cryostasis into a future world to fight an oppressive government. (IMDB)

In Sleeper, Woody Allen’s madcap futurist comedy, practically each joke and one-liner hits it target.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Sleeper among the best comedy movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ The film was awarded the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
✓ The American Film Institute included the film in its list AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs.



Young Frankenstein (1974)

Young Frankenstein (1974), Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, Best 1970s comedies
Where to Watch?   More info

Horror comedy film directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder.

Story: An American grandson of the infamous scientist, struggling to prove that his grandfather was not as insane as people believe, is invited to Transylvania, where he discovers the process that reanimates a dead body. (IMDB)

Made with obvious affection for the original, Young Frankenstein is a riotously silly spoof featuring a fantastic performance by Gene Wilder.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Young Frankenstein among the best comedy films of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Premiere voted this movie as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time”.
✓ Included among the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.


Blazing Saddles (1974)

Blazing Saddles (1974), Mel Brooks, Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Best comedy movies of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Satirical Western black comedy film directed by Mel Brooks, starring Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder.

Story: In order to ruin a western town, a corrupt politician appoints a black Sheriff, who promptly becomes his most formidable adversary. (IMDB)

Daring, provocative, and laugh-out-loud funny, Blazing Saddles is a gleefully vulgar spoof of Westerns that marks a high point in Mel Brooks’ storied career.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Blazing Saddles among the best comedies of the 1970s?
✓ 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 as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ Part of the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list.


Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), Best comedy films of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

British comedy adventure film written and performed by the Monty Python comedy group.

Story: King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table embark on a surreal, low-budget search for the Holy Grail, encountering many, very silly obstacles. (IMDB)

A cult classic as gut-bustingly hilarious as it is blithely ridiculous, Monty Python and the Holy Grail has lost none of its exceedingly silly charm.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Monty Python and the Holy Grail among the top comedy movies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Premiere voted this movie as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time”.
✓ The film’s reputation grew over time, and now it is widely acclaimed by critics and audiences as an influential classic comedy.


The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Jim Sharman, Best comedies of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Musical comedy horror film directed by Jim Sharman.

Story: A newly-engaged couple have a breakdown in an isolated area and must seek shelter at the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-n-Furter. (IMDB)

Rocky Horror Picture Show brings its quirky characters in tight, but it’s the narrative thrust that really drives audiences insane and keeps ’em doing the time warp again.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Rocky Horror Picture Show among the top comedy films of the 1970s?
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 as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The film gathered a large international cult following and has been considered by many as one of the greatest musical films of all time.



Annie Hall (1977)

Annie Hall (1977), Woody Allen, Top comedy movies of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Romantic comedy film written, directed by and starring Woody Allen.

Story: Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditzy Annie Hall. (IMDB)

Filled with poignant performances and devastating humor, Annie Hall represents a quantum leap for Woody Allen and remains an American classic.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Annie Hall among the top comedies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die and Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ Winner of 4 Oscars, including the ‘Best Picture of the Year’ Academy Award.
✓ Ranked #2 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Romantic Comedy”.
✓ Premiere voted this movie as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time”.


Slap Shot (1977)

Slap Shot (1977), Paul Newman, Top comedy films of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Sports comedy film starring Paul Newman.

Story: A failing ice hockey team finds success with outrageously violent hockey goonery. (IMDB)

Raunchy, violent, and very funny, Slap Shot is ultimately set apart by a wonderful comic performance by Paul Newman.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Slap Shot among the greatest comedy movies of the 1970s?
✓ The film was only a moderate success upon release, but the critical reevaluation over the years was so positive, that today it is widely regarded as a cult classic.


Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Burt Reynolds, Top comedies of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Road action comedy film starring Burt Reynolds.

Story: The Bandit is hired on to run a tractor trailer full of beer over state lines, in hot pursuit by a pesky sheriff. (IMDB)

Not much in the head but plenty beneath the hood, Smokey and the Bandit is infectious fun with plenty of car wrecks to keep your eyes glued.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Smokey and the Bandit among the greatest comedy films of the 1970s?
✓ One of the most successful movies of the 1970s, with a significant and long lasting cultural impact.


National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), John Landis, Greatest comedy movies of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Comedy film directed by John Landis.

Story: At a 1962 college, Dean Vernon Wormer is determined to expel the entire Delta Tau Chi Fraternity, but those troublemakers have other plans for him. (IMDB)

The talents of director John Landis and Saturday Night Live’s irrepressible John Belushi conspired to create a rambunctious, subversive college comedy that continues to resonate.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is National Lampoon’s Animal House among the greatest comedies of the 1970s?
✓ Selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
✓ It is the highest grossing comedy film of its time.
✓ Included among the American Film Institute’s list of the Top 100 Funniest American Movies.



Drunken Master (1978)

Drunken Master (1978), Jackie Chan, Greatest comedy films of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Action comedy martial arts film starring Jackie Chan.

Story: Wong Fei-Hung is a mischievous, yet righteous young man, but after a series of incidents, his frustrated father has him disciplined by Beggar So, a Master of drunken martial arts. (IMDB)

Why is Drunken Master among the funniest movies of the 1970s?
✓ It is an early example of the kung fu comedy genre, for which Jackie Chan became famous.
✓ One of the most popular comedies of the 1970s, with a significant impact on pop culture.


Life of Brian (1979)

Life of Brian (1979), Monty Python, Greatest comedies of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

British comedy film starring and written by the comedy group Monty Python.

Story: Born on the original Christmas in the stable next door to Jesus Christ, Brian of Nazareth spends his life being mistaken for a messiah. (IMDB)

One of the more cutting-edge films of the 1970s, this religious farce from the classic comedy troupe is as poignant as it is funny and satirical.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Life of Brian among the funniest films of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ It was a huge box office success upon release and it has remained popular ever since.
✓ Named “greatest comedy film of all time” by several magazines and television networks.


Manhattan (1979)

Manhattan (1979), Woody Allen, Most popular comedy movies of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Romantic comedy film written, directed by and starring Woody Allen.

Story: The life of a divorced television writer dating a teenage girl is further complicated when he falls in love with his best friend’s mistress. (IMDB)

One of Woody Allen’s early classics, Manhattan combines modern, bittersweet humor and timeless romanticism with unerring grace.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Manhattan among the most popular comedy movies of the 1970s?
✓ Featured in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ 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 as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


Being There (1979)

Being There (1979), Hal Ashby, Peter Sellers, Most popular comedy films of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Satire film directed by Hal Ashby and starring Peter Sellers.

Story: A simpleminded, sheltered gardener becomes an unlikely trusted advisor to a powerful businessman and an insider in Washington politics. (IMDB)

Smart, sophisticated, and refreshingly subtle, Being There soars behind sensitive direction from Hal Ashby and a stellar Peter Sellers performance.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is Being There among the most popular comedy films of the 1970s?
✓ Featured in Roger Ebert’s Great Movies list.
✓ 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 as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.


The Jerk (1979)

The Jerk (1979), Steve Martin, Most popular comedies of the 1970s
Where to Watch?   More info

Comedy film co-written by and starring Steve Martin.

Story: A simpleminded, sheltered country boy suddenly decides to leave his family home to experience life in the big city, where his naivete is both his best friend and his worst enemy. (IMDB)

Crude, crass, and oh so quotable, The Jerk is nothing short of an all-out comedic showcase for Steve Martin.

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus

Why is The Jerk among the most popular comedies of the 1970s?
✓ Included among the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
✓ Widely praised as not only one of Martin’s best comedic efforts, but also one of the funniest films ever made.
✓ Featured on the American Film Institute list AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs.



…end of the reel…

So there you have it: The 21 Greatest Comedies of the 1970s

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 1970s
MASH 1970
MASH (1970)
Harold and Maude 1971
Harold and Maude (1971)
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex 1972
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972)
The Sting 1973
The Sting (1973)
American Graffiti 1973
American Graffiti (1973)
*Part of the Collection: American Graffiti Duology

Paper Moon 1973
Paper Moon (1973)
Amarcord 1973
Amarcord (1973)
Sleeper 1973
Sleeper (1973)
Young Frankenstein 1974
Young Frankenstein (1974)
*Part of the Collection: Wolfrancula Cinematic Universe

Blazing Saddles 1974
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show 1975
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Annie Hall 1977
Annie Hall (1977)
Slap Shot 1977
Slap Shot (1977)
Smokey and the Bandit 1977
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
*Part of the Collection: Smokey and the Bandit Trilogy

National Lampoon’s Animal House 1978
National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
Drunken Master 1978
Drunken Master (1978)
*Part of the Collection: Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master Duology
Life of Brian 1979
Life of Brian (1979)
Manhattan 1979
Manhattan (1979)
Being There 1979
Being There (1979)
The Jerk 1979
The Jerk (1979)
*Click any title for more info or for Streaming / Disc Buying options

Ready for another journey?

Explore the best comedies of other decades too!

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