The romantic comedy is an oft-dismissed movie genre that is frequently belittled with terms such as ‘chick flick.’ However, some of the best movies of all time – from The Philadelphia Story to When Harry Met Sally – are part of the genre. Writer/directors such as Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers are the queens of the best rom-coms and deserve your respect! 2023 is particularly exciting because Meg Ryan is back in a rom-com, which she is both directing and starring in, which comes out on October 13.
The American Film Institute is an organization that champions the moving image art form, and runs a film school and a film festival – amongst many other things. They publish their top 10 American movies each year, and in 2008 they held a ballot to find the Top 10 movies in ten ‘classic American film genres.’
The ten genres were; Animation, Courtroom Drama, Historical Epic, Fantasy, Gangster, Mystery/Noir, Romantic Comedy, Science Fiction, Sports and Western. Animation isn’t a genre, it’s a medium AFI – you would think that you would know that!
So, what did the jury of over 1,500 ‘leaders from the creative community,’ including directors, screenwriters, actors, critics and historians, decide was the best rom-com of all time? It’s surprisingly a silent movie – Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931) – in which his Tramp character falls in love with a blind woman. Orson Welles said City Lights was his favorite film, and Stanley Kubrick said it was in his Top 10. Acclaimed directors Andrei Tarkovsky, Federico Fellini, and Robert Bresson were also all fans.
Elsewhere in the Top 10 were It Happened One Night (1934) starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, The Philadelphia Story (1940) starring Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Katherine Hepburn, Moonstruck (1987) starring Nicolas Cage and Cher, When Harry Met Sally (1989) starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal, and Sleepless in Seattle (1993) starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.