Lockdown and laugh with Terry-Thomas, David Niven, Linda Darnell, Doris Day and more!
In these testing times, delve into our sparkling catalogue of much-loved classic comedy films to set your humour back on track. Here’s a selection of our favourite madcap escapades and misfiring romances that prove laughter is the best medicine.
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One of Charles Crichton’s best-loved Ealing comedies, this railway caper follows the exploits of a group of villagers who pull out all the stops to keep a branch line threatened with closure running at full steam. Wealthy old soak Walter Valentine (Stanley Holloway) is the eager backer – once he is tipped off that a bar can be kept open all hours on any running train.
“Another charming anti-authoritarian fable.” Radio Times
After the fall of France in WWII, the (fictitious) German-occupied channel island Armorel is evacuated. But when the Ministry of Agriculture in London realises prize breeding cow Venus has been left behind, David Niven’s Major Valentine Morland is dispatched to lead manoeuvres to prevent the heifer from falling into enemy hands. Glynis Johns, George Coulouris, Kenneth More and Bernard Lee also star.
Young viscount Tony Pym (David Tomlinson) wangles leave from the British Army on the pretext of standing for a seat in parliament in the constituency held by his family for generations. While his principal aim is to marry wealthy American fiancée June Farrell (Helen Backlin) before she leaves for home, Pym soon gets caught up in a fierce election battle with rising Labour man Cleghorn (Tom Macauley), setting his romantic and political ambitions on a path to ruin. Step forward loyal, true-blue butler Beecham (Cecil Parker) to – perhaps – save the day.
Preston Sturges’ sharp screwball comedy stars Rex Harrison as world-renowned symphony conductor Sir Alfred de Carter, who is presented with damning evidence that his young wife Daphne (Linda Darnell) has been unfaithful. Ever immersed in the world he knows best, he dreams up elaborate ways to be rid of her – in scenarios inspired by Rossini, Wagner and Tchaikovsky – before harmony is ultimately restored.
This all-star adventure comedy boasts a dazzling ensemble cast including Terry-Thomas, Robert Morley, Sarah Miles, James Fox and Stuart Whitman as rival aviators vying to win an eye-popping cash prize and the kudos of being the first flier to complete the journey from London to Paris.
“Fast and furious action, good cinematography, crisp dialogue, wonderful planes, and a host of some of the funniest people in movies.” TV Guide
Frank Capra’s delicious romantic comedy stars Clark Gable as roguish reporter Peter Warne and Claudette Colbert as spoiled heiress Ellie Andrews, who rebels when her father (Walter Connolly) forbids her to marry fortune-hunting playboy pilot King Westley (Jameson Thomas). As fresh and funny today as on its release in 1934, it was the first film to win all five top Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay).
“Capturing its stars and director at their finest, It Happened One Night remains unsurpassed by the countless romantic comedies it has inspired.” Rotten Tomatoes
When spirited English reporter Frank Burdon (Rex Harrison) travels to Scotland to take a new job covering local affairs, he clashes with all-powerful Provost Willie Gow (Cecil Parker) – while falling for his delightful daughter Victoria (Vivien Leigh). Skirmishes escalate when Gow orders the destruction of a dog whose impoverished owner can’t raise the few shillings required to license her pet.
“A splendid comic brew.” The New York Times
In this sequel to On Moonlight Bay, Doris Day and Gordon MacRae reprise their roles as Marjorie Winfield and boyfriend Bill Sherman (Gordon MacRae), who now returns from action in the Great War. Their singalong stop-start romance is set against a series of family crises stemming chiefly from the wild imagination of Marjorie’s kid brother Wesley (Billy Gray).
This star-filled musical remake of The Philadelphia Story features the delectable Grace Kelly in her final screen role as socialite Tracy Lord, whose musician ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Bing Crosby) battles to prevent her from marrying bland gentleman George Kitteridge (John Lund) – all under the watchful eye of scurrilous reporter Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra). The hit-filled soundtrack features songs from each of the leads, as well as numbers from Louis Armstrong and his band.
Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman sizzle as star-crossed lovers Philip Adams and Anna Kalman, whose blossoming romance is put on hold when he is called to New York as an economic adviser to NATO. A serial charmer, Philip is forced to face up to his feelings when his white lie about an estranged marriage is uncovered, and accomplished actress Anna plots convoluted revenge.
“A beguiling love story delicately deranged by the complications of sophisticated comedy… a blaze of playful merriment.” Variety
Will Hay’s final film is a savagely funny precursor to Ealing Studios’ late, dark comedies Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Ladykillers. Directed by Hay and Basil Dearden, he plays disbarred lawyer William Fitch, who teams up with Claude Hubert’s bungling barrister Claude Babbington to pit their meagre wits against dastardly ex-jailbird Arthur Grimshaw (Mervyn Johns), a homicidal maniac with a plan to kill off all those responsible for his incarceration.
“Devilishly black comedy.” Radio Times
More laughs aplenty in our complete collection of vintage comedy!
Or you might want to browse our vintage film collection, including classics such as The Night of the Hunter and The Sweet Smell of Success.