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

Cinema was changing in the 1970s and a lot of new voices were being discovered by audiences. In the genre of comedy, a lot of writers and performers from television were transitioning into films like Albert Brooks, Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. Cinema was a venue where they could try new things and test the comedic waters. Here are ten comedies that anyone who loves to laugh should check out.


1. Real Life (1979)

Years before reality television became popular with shows like The Kardashians, Albert Brooks made his directorial debut with a film showing a real-life family’s life being made into a documentary. The film is also a mockumentary in one of its earliest examples since it’s a spoof of a reality series called An American Family on PBS. Brooks also stars as the documentarian making the project who’s aptly named Albert Brooks. He wears a helmet camera to record the family which includes the always-crabby Charles Grodin as the patriarch. Things do not go smoothly in a time when capturing reality on camera is not a common procedure yet. However, things are surely funny as Brooks does his best to make it all work with some unconventional tactics.

The comedy mind of Albert Brooks has produced some of the most unique film comedies of all time. Before this film, he produced short films for the first year of Saturday Night Live. Following Real Life, Brooks directed six feature films throughout his career that he also starred in and wrote. One of those films, Lost In America, was included in Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies as well as AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Laughs. All his films are worth seeing, but this one is required viewing.


2. The Sunshine Boys (1975)

Adapted from one of Neil Simon’s most famous plays, the film version stars Walter Matthau and George Burns as a former comedy team who hate each other’s guts.

The two elderly men haven’t seen each other in years. When they finally reunite, hilarity ensues. Matthau wants nothing but to torture Burns and applies many silly strategies to do so. Burns never seems phased. The role would win Burns an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and resurrect his film career at age 79. His most previous film appearance was 36 years earlier in a movie called Honolulu. Matthau’s agent/nephew is played by the always charming Richard Benjamin who produces more laughs than you’d expect next to two comedic legends on screen. Neil Simon is considered the greatest comedy playwright of all time because of his several works that produce constant laughter. He adapted many of his plays into films and The Sunshine Boys is one of the best.


3. The Twelve Chairs (1970)

The Twelve Chairs

The unique and knee-slapping experience of watching a Mel Brooks movie is like no other. In his follow-up to the Oscar-Winning film The Producers for which he won for his screenplay; Brooks presents a different kind of tale. The story of a con-artist played by a very young Frank Langella is on the lookout for some valuable jewels. Where are they, you ask? They’ve been sewn into the cushion of one of twelve chairs in a dining room set. Langella goes on a journey to find them while the always funny Dom DeLuise separately searches for them.

Brooks is known for such comedy classics as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs. His approach to parodying movies was like no one else. It’s hard to watch the originals and not think of the hilarious moments that are poking fun at them. While Brooks was a master at spoofing movies and genre, this film is actually based on a 1928 novel of the same name. There have been several film adaptations, but there’s no doubt that Brooks’ version is the funniest.


4. Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

Before Airplane!, there was Kentucky Fried Movie – a series of hilarious segments that parody television commercials, programs and a Bruce Lee style film. David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker (A.K.A. ZAZ) started a theater together called The Kentucky Fried Theater where they’d do hysterically funny sketches. They decided to make them into a movie and recruited John Landis as director.

The film borders on the ridiculous and absurd. The sketches include movie trailers that spoof blaxploitation, softcore porn and disaster films. The latter features Donald Sutherland as the clumsy waiter. Another sketch makes fun of movie theaters with the gimmick “Feel-a-Round” where an employee stands behind you in the theater and gives you a realistic feel to accompany the movie. The title of the sketch, “See You Next Wednesday,” is a running gag in all of Landis’ movies. This is one of the first times it appears. In its entirety, the movie holds up almost half a century later and contains laughs where you’d least expect them.


5. Sleeper (1973)

Later in his career, Woody Allen was known for casting big stars in low-budget movies with a lot of dialogue. Stars always wanted a part because Allen’s work is so unique. But earlier in his career, Allen starred in all his films along with Diane Keaton. The movies were much sillier back then. Among the silliest are Take The Money And Run, Bananas and this film – Sleeper where he cryogenically freezes himself and wakes up 200 years in the future.

This is Allen’s only science fiction film and as funny as it is, you’d wish there was more sci-fi in his filmography. Woody Allen trying to blend in anywhere is hilarious, but blending into a dystopian future can’t be missed. The film is a nod to the greats of silent era comedy – Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. This is a must-see for any fan of Woody Allen and even if you’re not a fan, it’s still hilariously funny.