While well-crafted action movies and horror movies will always be timeless, as the excitement of a car chase or the terror of a ghostly haunt will never get old, comedy movies are more hit-and-miss due to their social norms and their references to pop culture. can quickly become obsolete.
There are plenty of 1970s comedies that have aged horribly – 50 years of shifting social attitudes will – but that makes timeless gems of Monty Python, Mel Brooks and a pre-Star wars George Lucas stands out even more.
9 American Graffiti (1973)
Before taking the public to a galaxy far, far away in the years 1977 Star wars, George Lucas led a much more personal project. Located in Modesto, California in 1962 – the time and place where Lucas grew up – American graffiti follows a sprawling ensemble of freewheeling teens through a wild night.
While Lucas’s most memorable contribution to cinema will always be his iconic space opera, his snapshot of ’60s cruise culture still comes across as a timeless coming-of-age comedy.
8 Slap in the Face (1977)
Paul Newman showed his untapped comedic abilities in Slap as a player-coach of a minor league hockey team who decides to resort to wrestling players from the other team to win games. The film saw Newman reunite with George Roy Hill, the director of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The bite.
Although it received mixed reviews upon its theatrical release, Slap has been re-evaluated as a cult classic in the decades since.
7 M * A * S * H ââ(1970)
It’s not easy to make a funny war movie, but the prolific Robert Altman made it happen with MASH POTATOES, one of the biggest box office hits of the 1970s. By portraying the Korean War through the eyes of medical personnel, Altman could focus directly on the effects of war as opposed to the combat itself.
The fact that a sitcom based on this film spanned 11 seasons is a clear indicator of the timelessness of its story. Altman used the Korean War framework as a subtextual surrogate for the then-ongoing Vietnam War. Today the public can see MASH POTATOES as an incisive satire on the absurdity of war in general.
6 Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
Burt Reynolds stars in Smokey and the bandit like the titular “Bandit”, who uses his impressive driving skills to distract local law enforcement – led by Sheriff Buford T. Justice, aka “Smokey”, brilliantly played by Jackie Gleason – while his pal ” Snowman “(Jerry Reed, who contributed” East Bound and Down “to the soundtrack) illegally trucks a cargo of beer east of the Mississippi River.
In his directorial debut, legendary stuntman Hal Needham staged some of the most awe-inspiring car chases ever filmed – and they’re all played for a laugh.
5 A New Leaf (1971)
Much like her comedy partner Mike Nichols, Elaine May proved to be a master filmmaker when she stepped behind the camera to make her directorial debut, A new leaf. Walter Matthau plays the role of a spoiled rich child whose family money eventually runs out in middle age. In a desperate attempt to maintain his way of life, he plots to marry a wealthy woman, murder her, and reclaim the inheritance.
May herself plays the role of the woman he plans to kill, a brainless botanist, and her chemistry with Matthau – oblivious to his sinister ulterior motive – ensures that the film’s dark and humorous premise (and the story of ‘deeply unconventional love) works wonders.
4 The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Paying homage to classic B movies of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, Jim Sharman’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show tells the story of a young couple whose car breaks down in front of a haunted mansion in Transylvania, where they seek refuge and encounter all kinds of frightening monsters.
Rocky horror is the cult classic to put an end to all cult classics. To this day, fans still show up at midnight screenings disguised as Dr. Frank-N-Furter and sing along with âTime Warpâ, âDammit Janetâ and âSweet Travestiteâ.
3 Harold and Maude (1971)
at Hal Ashby Harold and Maude stars Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon as a 20-year-old troublemaker and his 79-year-old friend, respectively, who form an unlikely bond over a shared obsession with death and end up falling in love.
Ashby’s film certainly has a morbid sense of humor, but its shock value still holds up half a century later. The emotions between Harold and Maude ring true, giving the film a surprisingly dramatic depth, and Cat Stevens provides a beautifully light soundtrack.
2 Flaming Saddles (1974)
Arguably the most famous parody of Mel Brooks, Flaming saddles pokes fun at the well-worn tropes of Western films with a biting critique of the genre’s whitewashing. It tells the story of a corrupt politician hiring a black sheriff to attempt to sabotage a town, except that the sheriff proves to be so capable that he not only saves the town; it also eliminates the corrupt politician and his cronies.
“They couldn’t do Flaming saddles today âhas become something of a mantra in the changing comedy landscape, but Brooks’ film is a timeless masterpiece that hits all the right satirical targets.
1 Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
The Pythons’ first feature film composed of original material, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, saw the sketch cast make the transition to the big screen hysterically. Graham Chapman plays King Arthur in search of the titular Grail, but that narrative framework is just there to facilitate a series of classic Python non-sequences and absurd gags.
In addition to satirizing the Arthurian legend, Monty Python and the Holy Grail highlights the artifice of the cinema itself with fun opening credits, constant fourth wall pauses, and a hilariously disappointing ending.
NEXT: The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Comedies Of The 70s
Which of your favorite anime protagonists are you based on your zodiac sign?
About the Author