20 best British comedies

by amelia-harvey | created - 22 Jun 2011 | updated - 22 Jun 2011 | Public

Pretty self explanatory, its loosely in order- but after 5 the order isn't organized. I suppose it's unfair to reduce an entire genre into a couple films, like it'd be a daunting task to make a list of only 15 or 20 great American comedies. Oh well.

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1. Play for Today (1970–1984)
Episode: Nuts in May (1976)

84 min | Comedy, Drama

8.0
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A middle-class couple go camping in Dorset, but peace and quiet elude them.

Director: Mike Leigh | Stars: Roger Sloman, Alison Steadman, Anthony O'Donnell, Sheila Kelley

Votes: 1,397

I love Mike Leigh (Life is sweet and topsy turvy could also go on this list), and Nuts in May is my favorite of his. It embodies British comedy with its subtleties and goofy characters and antics. It's so fun. I'd recommend the entire Pay for Today series, they are oft overlooked.

2. Withnail & I (1987)

R | 107 min | Comedy, Drama

7.8
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In 1969, two substance-abusing, unemployed actors retreat to the countryside for a holiday that proves disastrous.

Director: Bruce Robinson | Stars: Richard E. Grant, Paul McGann, Richard Griffiths, Ralph Brown

Votes: 34,081 | Gross: $1.54M

Great fun.

3. Life of Brian (1979)

R | 94 min | Comedy

8.1
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75 Metascore

Brian is born on the original Christmas, in the stable next door. He spends his life being mistaken for a messiah.

Director: Terry Jones | Stars: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam

Votes: 303,799 | Gross: $20.05M

Pretty much any Monty Python, I considered just adding Monty Pythons flying circus. It's the best.

4. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Not Rated | 106 min | Comedy, Crime

8.1
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A distant poor relative of the Duke of D'Ascoyne plots to inherit the title by murdering the eight other heirs who stand ahead of him in the line of succession.

Director: Robert Hamer | Stars: Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Valerie Hobson, Joan Greenwood

Votes: 30,237

Classic.

5. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

Approved | 78 min | Comedy, Crime

7.7
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A meek bank clerk who oversees the shipment of bullion joins with an eccentric neighbor to steal gold bars and smuggle them out of the country as miniature Eiffel Towers.

Director: Charles Crichton | Stars: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James, Alfie Bass

Votes: 10,549

I should just include all the Ealing comedies, they're brilliant.

6. The Ruling Class (1972)

R | 154 min | Comedy, Drama, Musical

7.6
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A member of the House of Lords dies, leaving his estate to his son. Unfortunately, his son thinks he is Jesus Christ. The other, somewhat more respectable, members of their family plot to steal the estate from him. Murder and mayhem ensue.

Director: Peter Medak | Stars: Peter O'Toole, Alastair Sim, Arthur Lowe, Hugh Owens

Votes: 5,079

7. The Man in the White Suit (1951)

Approved | 85 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

7.4
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An altruistic chemist invents a fabric which resists wear and stain as a boon to humanity, but both big business and labor realize it must be suppressed for economic reasons.

Director: Alexander Mackendrick | Stars: Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough

Votes: 7,317 | Gross: $0.01M

8. Snatch (2000)

R | 102 min | Comedy, Crime

8.3
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55 Metascore

Unscrupulous boxing promoters, violent bookmakers, a Russian gangster, incompetent amateur robbers, and supposedly Jewish jewelers fight to track down a priceless stolen diamond.

Director: Guy Ritchie | Stars: Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina

Votes: 670,001 | Gross: $30.33M

9. Death at a Funeral (2007)

R | 87 min | Comedy

7.4
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67 Metascore

Chaos ensues when a man tries to expose a dark secret regarding a recently deceased patriarch of a dysfunctional British family.

Director: Frank Oz | Stars: Matthew Macfadyen, Peter Dinklage, Ewen Bremner, Keeley Hawes

Votes: 96,778 | Gross: $8.58M

Fffffff why did they remake this?

10. The Full Monty (1997)

R | 91 min | Comedy, Drama

7.2
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75 Metascore

Six unemployed steel workers form a male striptease act. The women cheer them on to go for "the full monty" - total nudity.

Director: Peter Cattaneo | Stars: Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Addy, William Snape

Votes: 88,353 | Gross: $45.95M

11. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

R | 94 min | Comedy

6.8
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80 Metascore

Director Michael Winterbottom (Northam) attempts to shoot the adaptation of Laurence Sterne's essentially unfilmable novel, "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman."

Director: Michael Winterbottom | Stars: Steve Coogan, Jeremy Northam, Rob Brydon, Keeley Hawes

Votes: 11,663 | Gross: $1.25M

A lot of Coognan could go on here.

12. I'm All Right Jack (1959)

Not Rated | 105 min | Comedy

7.3
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A naive aristocrat in search of a career becomes caught up in the struggles between his profit-minded uncle and an aggressive labour union.

Director: John Boulting | Stars: Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas, Peter Sellers, Richard Attenborough

Votes: 2,971

13. The Tall Guy (1989)

R | 92 min | Comedy, Romance

6.2
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Dexter King plays straight man to unpleasant comedian Ron Anderson. He falls in love with Kate, a pretty nurse he meets when he is receiving injections for hay fever. When Anderson fires ... See full summary »

Director: Mel Smith | Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson, Geraldine James

Votes: 3,935 | Gross: $0.51M

14. The Mouse That Roared (1959)

Approved | 83 min | Comedy

7.0
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An impoverished backward nation declares a war on the United States of America, hoping to lose, but things don't go according to plan.

Director: Jack Arnold | Stars: Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell, David Kossoff

Votes: 7,209

15. The Wrong Box (1966)

Approved | 105 min | Comedy, Crime

7.0
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In Victorian England, a fortune now depends on which of two brothers outlives the other... or can be made to have seemed to do so!

Director: Bryan Forbes | Stars: John Mills, Michael Caine, Ralph Richardson, Jeremy Lloyd

Votes: 2,647

16. 24 Hour Party People (2002)

R | 117 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama

7.4
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85 Metascore

In 1976, Tony Wilson sets up Factory Records and brings Manchester's music to the world.

Director: Michael Winterbottom | Stars: Steve Coogan, Lennie James, John Thomson, Paul Popplewell

Votes: 28,962 | Gross: $1.13M

Love this film.

17. Bedazzled (1967)

Approved | 103 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

7.0
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A hapless loser sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for seven wishes, but has trouble winning over the girl of his dreams.

Director: Stanley Donen | Stars: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron, Raquel Welch

Votes: 7,333

The original. Great fun.

18. Morgan! (1966)

97 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

7.0
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After his wife leaves him for his former best friend, a failed London artist begins his descent into madness in trying to win her back.

Director: Karel Reisz | Stars: David Warner, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Stephens, Irene Handl

Votes: 1,376

19. Gregory's Girl (1980)

PG | 91 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.1
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Gregory is a normal teen who is infatuated with a classmate. He must work to win her affection.

Director: Bill Forsyth | Stars: John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn, Jake D'Arcy, Clare Grogan

Votes: 6,438

20. Blithe Spirit (1945)

Not Rated | 96 min | Comedy, Fantasy

7.2
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Charles and his second wife, Ruth, are haunted by the spirit of his first wife, Elvira. Medium Madame Arcati tries to help things out by contacting the ghost.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond, Margaret Rutherford

Votes: 4,324