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Greatest Romantic Comedies of All Time

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Authored by Mike Bacon in Movies and Television
Published on 10-15-2009

Romantic Comedies generally follow a particular formula. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl in the end. This formula has worked for decades. Everyone knows that the protagonists are meant to be together in the end. The saying “Getting there is half the fun” would seem to apply.

Here then is a list of some of the greatest romantic comedies of all time. No list like this will make everyone happy, so please view the list subjectively.

It Happened One Night (1934)

The story of a runaway heiress being “helped” by a reporter who is really only after a story has gone down in history as one of the most loved romantic comedies of all time. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert play the unlikely lovers in this film that swept the Oscars in 1935. Frank Capra who would become known for his light hearted films directed the movie. There is a story that Gable was under contract to MGM at the time and was proving to be difficult to work with. To punish him, Louie B. Mayer loaned him to Columbia Studios to make a comedy, which Gable reportedly detested. Since the film won Gable his first Oscar, it was a fortuitous move and made him what in today’s terms would likely be called a Super Star.

Arthur (1981)

Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, and the late Sir John Gielgud starred in this tale of a happy drunk (Moore) with no ambition who happens to be hier to a huge fortune. Gielgud plays Hobson, his personal valet who is more of a father to the irrepressible Arthur than his rich natural father. He is forced by his parents to marry Susan (Jill Eikenberry) for an alliance between their two families. The problem is that Arthur finds Susan to be a dreadful boor. Arthur meets Minnelli’s penniless waitress character and falls in love with her. She doesn’t really know what to make of Arthur. When Hobson get sick, Arthur finally decides to grow up. The film won two Academy Awards including John Gielgud as best supporting actor, his only Oscar from a long and distinguished career.

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan starred in this comedy about a widowed father whose young son thinks it’s time for his father to begin dating again. Young Jonah calls a radio show with a national audience and tells about his father, Sam (Hanks). Annie played by Ryan, hears Jonah and decides to go to Seattle to meet Sam. Neither of them feel that spark and Annie goes back to New York. You don’t have to be a hopeless romantic know how this movie ends. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards. Victor Garber and Rosie O’Donnell played supporting roles.

As good as it Gets (1997)

Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear starred in this vehicle about the unlikely friendship. Nicholson is Melvin Udall a bigoted, obsessive-compulsive writer who finds himself saddled with the responsibility for his gay neighbor Simon’s (Kinnear) dog, when Simon is badly beaten. Hunt plays Carol the single mother waitress who has the misfortune of being the only waitress who will wait on Melvin. You develop an intense dislike for Melvin at the beginning of the picture, but as with most movies of this nature there is of course a payoff at the end. The film won best acting Oscars for both Nicholson and Hunt.

Bringing up Baby (1930)

Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn starred in this madcap comedy about a paleontologist who has several run-ins with a seemingly crazy heiress who causes him one impossible situation after the other. The “baby” in the title refers to a tame leopard that the uncle of Hepburn’s character has shipped to her apartment in New York. An apparent attempt to take the leopard to her aunts house in Connecticut all hell breaks loose. The film was directed by veteran director Howard Hawks.

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