10 Best Italian Comedy Movies

Monday, January 31 by Lee Grayson

The 10 best Italian comedy movies include films made in the English language and those made in Italian including English subtitles. Italian comedy is a serious area of study for film students. The comedy after World War II that set the mood for comedy is sometimes referred as part of the neorealism, realistic comedy.

  1. "Divorce, Italian Style." This well-known Italian comedy, directed by Pietro Germi is a seminal film that was used by Vittorio De Sica as an inspiration for "Marriage, Italian Style." The film stars Marcello Mastroianni, Daniela Rocca, Stefania Sandrelli and Leopoldo Trieste and was released by Embassy Pictures Corporation in 1962.
  2. "La Dolce Vita." Starring such acting greats as Marcello Mastroianni, this Italian comedy was directed by Federico Fellini in 1960. The title means the good life and the main character's seemingly entertaining life as a newspaper reporter is interrupted by more serious self-examination when he explores his love, life and work. The movie was nominated for four American Academy Awards.  
  3. "Life is Beautiful." This 1997 release stars Roberto Benigni, Giorgio Cantarini and Nicoletta Braschi. Benigni also wrote and directed the movie about life during World War II. The film won American Academy Awards for best director and best foreign film.
  4. "Marriage, Italian Style." Released in 1964 and directed under the film master Vittorio De Sica, Matrimonio all'italiana describes a tale of a businessman and his mistress. The man intends to dump his wife and remarry, but not for his longtime mistress. The comedy stars Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in the title roles, with Aldo Puglisi, Tecla Scarano, Marilu Tolo, Gianni Ridolfi and Generoso Cortini in supporting parts.
  5. "Big Deal on Madonna Street." This 1958 film directed by Mario Monicelli stars Vittorio Gassman and Claudia Cardinale. A group of thieves attempt a robbery at the local pawnshop only to start a comedy of errors to avoid detection. The movie was later released with English subtitles under the title "Person Unknown in the UK."
  6. "The Monsters", aka "I mostri." This best Italian comedy movie directed by Dino Risi in 1963, not to be confused with the American animated film, and was followed by "The New Monsters" in 1977. The film revolves around twenty episodes all starring Vittorio Gassman and Ugo Tognazzi. Some segments were removed with the re-release under the titles "15 from Rome" and "Opiate '67." 
  7. "Johnny Stecchino." Released in 1991, this film was made under the direction Roberto Benigni. The film also stars Benigni as the main character Dante who is a poor public employee is talked into impersonating the husband of a wealthy woman who in real life is married to the mob. 
  8. "The Great War." Director Mario Monicelli takes on the tough topic of war and adds a comedy slant in this 1959 film featuring Alberto Sordi and Vittorio Gassman. The film was nominated for the "Best Foreign Film" award for 1959 at the American Academy Awards. 
  9. "Tea with Mussolini." Franco Zeffirelli directed this odd 1999 Italian comedy movie about an illegitimate son of a businessman. The film stars Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith and Judi Dench and presents autobiographical elements from Zeffirelli's own life. 
  10. "The Icicle Thief." Released in 1989, this film directed by Maruizio Nichetti, mocks the media industry. A dramatic film shown on television is cut into commercials to create an odd blend between the drama and the consumer advertisements.
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