10 Great 1970s Comedy Movie Classics You Probably Haven’t Seen

6. The Out-Of-Towners (1970)

Less than two decades before Planes, Trains And Automobiles showed a couple of guys running into disaster after disaster, Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis play a couple of suburbanites that keep running into problems of their own around New York City. Penned by the comedic genius Neil Simon in his second movie on the list, the perfectly paired Lemmon and Dennis are out of their element in the brutality of the city. Away from their safe and secure home in Ohio, they experience catastrophe after catastrophe within the naked city.

It’s important to mention that the Big Apple was a very different place when this film was made. It wasn’t the welcoming tourist attraction it is today. That transition didn’t occur until the 90s. Back in 1970, it was heavily linked to crime. The movie shows this, but somehow makes it very funny. Lemmon is a celebrated thespian as well as a gifted comedic actor. His first of two Oscars was for his hilarious performance in Mister Roberts. Dennis had dabbled in comedy on stage and screen, but her comedic chops appear that she was made for the funny. The film was remade in the late 90s with the same title. Another perfect pair of comedic actors – Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn – starred in that version. While a great comedic pair, the film doesn’t deliver like the original.


7. What’s Up, Doc? (1972)

Following a thriller, coming-of-age drama and a documentary, Director Peter Bogdanovich jumps headfirst into screwball comedy. As versatile as he is, it seems he’s a master at comedy from this movie alone. Truth is Bogdanovich is a cinephile and a very talented director. It’s an homage to comedies of the golden age like Bringing Up Baby with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

In this film, the iconic Barbara Streisand gives a performance like you’ve never seen her before. Opposite her is Ryan O’ Neal and together they produce many many laughs. The incredible Madeline Kahn co-stars along with the very funny Austin Pendleton and Kenneth Mars who played Franz Liebkind in The Producers. The movie was a major hit in 1972 and the third highest-grossing film of the year behind The Poseidon Adventure and The Godfather. The energy of the film is what makes it so good today.


8. Hooper (1978)

A movie about stuntmen that was directed by a stuntman and a movie star who did his own stunts. The movie star – Burt Reynolds – plays the stuntman in a film which happens to star Batman’s Adam West appearing as himself. The director – Hal Needham – became a stuntman in the 50s and was soon one of the top stuntmen in the entertainment industry. He was a regular double for Reynolds and the two eventually became friends.

Needham wrote the screenplay for Smokey And The Bandit and was given the chance to direct by Reynolds. Hooper was their follow-up and the two went on to do Smokey And The Bandit 2 and The Cannonball Run together. The film also stars the charming Sally Field who co-starred with Reynolds in other movies around this time. They were in a relationship during the making of the movie. While there haven’t been a lot of movies about stuntman in cinema, this one stands out. It’s a love letter to stunt performers. And it happens to be hilariously funny.


9. The Hospital (1971)

George C. Scott stars in this absurdist black comedy where nothing seems to go right at a Manhattan teaching hospital. Life support won’t be necessary for this entertaining film. The renowned playwright and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky was inspired to write the script after his wife Susan received inadequate care at a hospital. He insisted on casting Scott for the lead role. The script earned Chayefsky his second Academy Award. He would win a third Academy Award five years later for his most celebrated film Network. His first was for Marty with Ernest Borgnine.

Scott received an Oscar nomination for his performance as the Chief of Medicine, but his only Oscar win was a year prior for his powerful role as Patton. The Hospital is a very different kind of comedy, but the laughs are there.


10. Murder By Death (1976)

Murder By Death (1976)

In his third film on the list, Neil Simon writes an original screenplay that brings together five renowned detectives that parody famous fictional investigators: Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade, Charlie Chan, Miss Marple and Nick and Nora Charles from the Thin Man film series. Naturally, the plot is a classic whodunit at a country-house. The all-star cast makes the film. With such names as Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith and Eileen Brennan, the film can’t go wrong. There’s also an appearance from famed writer Truman Capote in his only on-screen role as Lionel Twain. Capote received a Golden Globe nomination for his work.

The creator of The Addams Family, Charles Addams, was responsible for the caricatures at the beginning and end credits of the film. One of the film’s stars, Peter Falk, was known as the famous homicide detective Columbo which had been running for eight seasons at this point. He would appear again as a similar sleuth in The Cheap Detective where he reteamed with writer Neil Simon.