10 Screwball Comedies You Have to Watch

For 15 years or so in the 30s and 40s, frenetic romances with fast-talking, (temporarily) divorced couples, racy dialogue, strong women, and Cary Grant were all the rage. 

Then the genre mostly petered out—though not entirely. It’s harder to shut up the screwball comedy than it looks. 

The list below includes some of the gems from the classic period, with some surprises ducking out from under the bed decades later. It’s in chronological order. 

The Awful Truth (1937)

Leon McCarey’s The Awful Truth is a brilliant demonstration of how Hollywood screwballs got around the fact that censors of the time didn’t allow them to show any awful truths. 

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Howard Hawks’ masterpiece was a bomb on release. But now we can see it’s the best screwball. And the best rom-com.  And maybe just the best movie of all time. 

His Girl Friday (1940)

Another stupendous Howard Hawks screwball, though this time Cary Grant is the pursuer rather than the pursued.