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I have no quibbles with your pre-war list, but I'd also nominate "Midnight." The first time I saw "Midnight" I detected not one false note. And with Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, Mary Astor and John Barrymore, how can you go wrong? Oh, and a Charles Brackett script--perfection!


Billy, oh Billy, my Billy, dear Billy.....
Please come up for air.

E.C. Henry


Your lists are always right and never wrong, becasue their YOUR lists. You've spent YEARS studying the spectrum of film. You have much richer appreciation of film, than I. I study what moves me, or what I feel will help me become a better story teller. (Case and point: I just went out and saw "Grindhouse" -- just because it was from Quinten Tarintino and I thought I might learn somthing from him). My slant on film is much narrower than yours.

I've tried watching the clasics, but I can't stand LISTENING to them. Conditioned by movies in the 80s onward I'm usded to DYNRAMIC DIALOG, stuff from the 40s and 50s sounds stilted to me -- like the actor and actresses are reading off cue cards.

BUT I am willing to grow and try new things, AND honor those who went before us and provided the foundation upon which we build. AND your opions do matter. Your love for "Groundhog Day" has changed my "ho-hum" initial reaction to it. the film. And because of you I am TRYING to rent "Say Anything."

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA


Great list. And it was good that you didn't include films that were not both romantic and comedic. I agree about Breakfast at Tiffany's, but there should be some mention of Blake Edwards!

B.E. Sanderson

Excellent list, and I agree for the most part. (Especially with the pre-war movies.)

Yes, 'Adam's Rib' is better than 'Woman of the Year', but then again so is 'Pat & Mike'.

Thanks for bringing up some great memories of old movies. Makes me want to forget about work today and go watch a few. =oD


Jamy: I can't believe you brought up MIDNIGHT! This is my personal favorite "unknown" rom-com (cited as a "sleeper" in my book) and believe it or not, I debated strenuously with myself over inclusion, ultimately deciding it was too obscure, i.e. most people have never seen it. But it's a great film, with a great line ("Every Cinderella has her midnight"), wonderful screenplay and one of Barrymore's most fun performances...

Interesting news is, my own studio (Universal) has been toying with remaking it for years, something I dreaded, but now a most excellent screenwriter with a love and understanding of the genre has just signed on for the project. Could be great -- I'll keep you posted.

Audrey: But it's just so... pungent, down here.

EC, you're a good sport and an adventurous soul. "Anything" is one of the best (if not THE best) teen rom-coms ever, so worthy of a good look. If you want to hear un-stilted but marvelously stylized dialogue that really snaps, crackles and pops, try HIS GIRL FRIDAY, arguably the fastest talkie ever made.

Hey Mr. Neil! I, too, am an Edwards lover, but 10 doesn't hold up so well, and really only TIFFANY'S seems pantheon-ready, for rom-coms, thus... (Hey, is it true that you and Sophia are together again? Congrats!)

Welcome, B.E. -- So glad I could contribute to your slacking off!


I'm in the minority on The Philadelphia Story, it just doesn't work for me, I think it's the Cary Grant character primarily, I'd need to see it again to nail it down, which I don't want to do. I think maybe it was his certainty over just what Katherine Hepburn should do. I have a problem with Arthur and the idea of the comical drunk (that sounds a lot like something someone with no sense of humor would say). Say Anything is brilliant, I think you correctly rank it above Jerry Maguire. The Aparment is in my all time top 10, but I wonder if its stretching the definition of a Romantic Comedy to list it, seems more of a drama with some light touches.

Couple of older, less talked about romantic comedy movies that are pretty good are Strawberry Blond and The Farmers Daughter.

Ann Wesley Hardin

I think My Favorite Wife should get an honorary place! I actually liked it much better than Bringing Up Baby because I felt Irene and Cary were perfectly matched in the wit and scheming depts. It's one of those movies that's so full of charm, twists and mental comedy it stays with you forever.

Love all your choices, though. Say Anything transcends teenagedom. I adore that movie.


Wait a minute, I completely forgot about one of the all time greats - Roman Holiday. I'm curious why that isn't mentioned at least. Perhaps the ending? But it is a romance, it is funny (therefore a romantic comedy, yes?), it has a briliant star in Audrey Hepburn, nice performance from Gregory Peck and a good comic supporting role by Eddie Albert, and directed by one of the great directors in Wyler, that seems to add up to a movie that belongs in any discussion of romantic comedies.


Remakes of perfect movies make me nervous, but I'll trust you on this one.

To wit: my favorite movie is "Born Yesterday" which falls in between your lists. I refuse to watch the remake, though I've always thought John Goodman was probably well cast.

To comment on the lists again, I heartily agree with The Apartment. Say Anything is almost perfect and trounces Jerry McGuire.

I don't get the inclusion of Fish or Weddings, since neither of them made a strong impression on me.

Oh, and while Holiday is good it didn't age as well as Philadelphia story.

Mystery Man

Wow. I'm feeling a tinge of guilt for the headache I brought you. I'm SO very sorry. Well, not totally. This IS entertaining.

You should give yourself some peace and enjoy a sweeping study of all the different periods of cinema and all the great Rom Coms of every period. Sure, it'll be big and comprehensive, but so what? It'll be interesting. And nobody else has done this.

By the way, Breakfast at Tiffany's TOTALLY ROCKS.




Good job on the lists, Billy. I have no quibbles. I do have a soft spot for the movie While You Were Sleeping. Not suggesting it belongs in the top ten, there's just a sweetness about it. I've watched it on tv about thirty times and every time it's on, I have to watch it again ... even though I OWN it. Crazy.

Ah, Say Anything. The movie that ruined me for romance in my formative years. What man will ever stack up to Lloyd Dobler,I ask you?


Patrick: I know what you mean about the darkness of The Apartment; nonetheless it's widely classified as a comedy, not drama, and it's clearly a rom-com (i.e. the central question it asks is, Will these two people become a couple?). When I participated in a British documentary on romantic comedy, they used The Apartment as the centerpiece for their thesis on contemporary rom-coms, and Wilder himself speaks of it in these terms in his interviews, including the book he did with Cameron Crowe.

Roman Holiday is a great rom-com, and cited in my book ("100 Notable Romantic Comedies"); it just doesn't strike me as being as Desert Island Movies-strong to be in the Top 10.

Ann: Wife is of course a fun one, but it feels to me much like a redo of Awful Truth (Grant and Dunne's first, and to me, best pic together).

Jamy, I'm with you on Holiday, but I cite it because many people who love the Grant-Hepburn combo aren't even aware of it; re: Fish, I'd never even identified it as a rom-com until William Goldman wrote a piece on it as "the best romantic comedy," and I re-evaluated; sounds like that kind of absurd/farcical/black humor is simply not your cuppa tea...

MM: Not a headache, really. In terms of such a study, I sort of did a survey version in my book, so I wonder about the repetitious nature of delving into it more thoroughly here (you'll prob'ly argue that a blog is not a book, etc.). But you have launched me on a series-to-come investigating individual movies, so stay tuned...

Caroline -- Sleeping is a fave of many, and arguably Bill Pullman's best role (he got to be the romantic lead for once!). Re: Lloyd Dobler, no joke! And how do you think that makes US feel?!


I love your obsessive-compulsive anal-retentive nature. I bet you pick at scabs too.


Another sleeper for the prewar list; not widely known, but at least for me it's a Desert Island movie: Theodora Goes Wild, with Irene Dunne and Melvyn Douglas. Clever plot, the stars give very relaxed and naturalistic performances and have great chemistry, and I especially like the inversion where Dunne plays the same trick on Douglas that he tried to play on her by "outing" him with his family.

And for the later comedies, I'm always surprised that no one mentions Albert Brooks movies, especially Defending Your Life. Major focus on "will this couple get together" (in the afterlife, a sort of last chance for the Brooks character to overcome his fear and evolve to the next stage, whatever that may be). I think all of Albert Brooks's films are tinged with romantic comedy, his protagonists are always trying to work out their relationship with the feminine/anima in their lives, whether it's a wife with a gambling problem, mother, or the muse.

Also, one of Preston Sturges's great romantic comedy screenplays is Remember the Night (Mitchell Leisen directed); Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray are an unlikely couple, she's a thief and he's the DA who's supposed to put her in jail, but while she's out on bail they go on a road trip and spend Christmas with his family in the heartland, which turns out to be genuinely healing for her even though the ending isn't happily ever after.

Ann Wesley Hardin

I've never seen Awful Truth but it sounds like my cuppa. Off to Netflix I go. Thanks, Billy!


Brooke: Oh dear... in fact, I do.

Dottie! Not only do I love Theodora with a capital "L" -- I actually spent a good part of a year back in the Eighties trying to turn Theodora into a musical (it didn't pan out, unfortunately) -- so at any rate, you are preaching to the choir.

I'm also a fan of Defending, which gets affectionate citations in my rom-com book; clearly one of the great rom-coms of the Nineties.

Now I'll have to re-view Remember, which I saw many, many years ago; in memory, it seems more a drama than a comedy, but on its creative team pedigree alone, it surely rates another look, so thanks for the tip.

Ann, you're in for a treat.


couldn't agree more with your choice for one of the greatest comedy ever ("princess bride"). but i disagree with "mary" as an alernate for "wanda". was that because they were both one-girl-meets-several-boys movies?
but hell, it's your list.

Kelly Russell

Nice job on the lists...Not even an honorable mention for LA Story?


How to get round the restrictiveness of Top Tens - have two top tens, with alternates! Neat footwork, Billy. I'm going to print them both off as homework, and either watch or rewatch, and learn. That's th next few weekends sorted out, then.

Paul Lacques

Groundhog Day a romantic comedy?
GH is Being and Nothingness with smooching.


Duncan: My thinking was that "Wanda" and "Mary" are both broad, farcial comedies filled with absurd (even "gross") comedic set-pieces, thus both representing a certain kind of contemporary rom-com (but yeah, come to think of it, there's also that "multiple suitor" similarity).

Kelly: I love "L.A. Story"... I just don't know that I'd put it in my all-time Top Ten.

Sal: If only all homework could be that much fun!

Lacquesman: LOL. And I agree, as It's So Much More Than That (i.e. a regular rom-com). But technically it's a "hybrid" (a high concept comedy/romantic comedy). To reiterate an earlier post: "Groundhog" is classified as a rom-com in most stores & venues, is identified as such on the DVD box quotes, and (to be annoyingly academic) its central conflict is resolved via Bill Murray learning how to love Andie MacDowell...

But yeah, it's more Sartre than "Sleepless," any day.


Also wanted to also suggest for honorable mention two great romantic comedies by Lawrence Kasdan, "Continental Divide" and "French Kiss" (Kasdan wrote the script for "Divide," directed by Michael Apted; Kasdan directed "Kiss"). I wish there were more romantic comedies like "Continental Divide," which has elements of social satire along with the romcom structure (and it's also a marvelous time capsule of early 80s Chicago). In spite of supposed controversies about Belushi's performance, I think he nails every scene brilliantly. And Blair Brown is an unpretentious and sparky feminist heroine, in the tradition of Rosalind Russell in "His Girl Friday."

"French Kiss" is also a wonderfully entertaining movie that is sort of a romcom/fish-out-of-water hybrid (as is "Divide").

Another great thing about both these movies is they don't drag as the story develops, Kasdan provides inventive and satisfying third acts/endings.


I LOVE this discussion. My top 20 has a few that haven't been mentioned: High Fidelity, the Tao of Steve, Reality Bites, and the Truth About Cats and Dogs. All of these have a bit more bite (in a good way) and a little less gloss than most romantic comedies. The Truth About Cats and Dogs is good, but the others are great.


Dottie: "French Kiss" was written by an old friend of mine, Adam Brooks, who has a new rom-com coming out this spring, called "Definitely Maybe." Is Kevin Kline not sublime in "French?"

Hey Sarah: I'm a fan of all of those, particularly "High Fidelity" which I think in time will be appreciated as one of the greats.

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