Read Bill Hader's List of 200 Movies Every Comedy Writer Should See

August 28, 2014
Source: XO Jane

Bill Hader

Now you don't have to be a comedy writer to appreciate great comedic filmmaking, but "Saturday Night Live" veteran Bill Hader has an impressive list of 200 Essential Movies Every Comedy Writer Should See. Thankfully, this is also just a great list of comedies that any cinephile with a penchant for good comedy should check out. The list comes from Mike Sacks' book Poking A Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers, which sounds like a great read for anyone with more than a passing interest in the art of comedy. But we know you came here for the movie list, so keep reading for the goods. Read on!

Bill Hader's (alphabetical) 200 Essential Movies Every Comedy Writer Should See from XO Jane:

1. 9 to 5 (1980)
2. 1941 (1979)
3. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
4. Ace in the Hole (1951)
5. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
6. After Hours (1985)
7. Airplane! (1980)
8. Amarcord (1973)
9. American Graffiti (1973)
10. An American in Paris (1951)
11.Animal Crackers (1930)
12. Annie Hall (1977)
13. The Apartment (1960)
14. Army of Darkness (1992)
15. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
16. Back to the Future (1985)
17. The Bad News Bears (1976)
18. Bananas (1971)
19. The Band Wagon (1953)
20. The Bank Dick (1940)
21. Barton Fink (1991)
22. Beetlejuice (1988)
23. Being There (1979)
24. Best in Show (2000)
25. Better Off Dead (1985)
26. Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958)
27. The Big Lebowski (1998)
28. The Birdcage (1996)
29. Blazing Saddles (1974)
30. The Blues Brothers (1980)
31. Boogie Nights (1997)
32. Born Yesterday (1950)
33. Bottle Rocket (1996)
34. Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932)
35. Brazil (1985)
36. Broadway Danny Rose (1984)
37. Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
38. The ‘Burbs (1989)
39. Cabin in the Sky (1943)
40. Caddyshack (1980)
41. Catch-22 (1970)
42. The Circus (1928)
43. City Lights (1931)
44. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
45. Closely Watched Trains (1966)
46. The Cocoanuts (1929)
47. Coming to America (1988)
48. The Court Jester (1956)
49. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
50. Dames (1934)
51. A Day at the Races (1937)
52. Dazed and Confused (1993)
53. Design for Living (1933)
54. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
55. Down by Law (1986)
56. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
57. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
58. Duck Soup (1933)
59. Ed Wood (1994)
60. Election (1999)
61. The Evil Dead (1981)
62. Evil Dead 2 (1987)
63. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
64. Fargo (1996)
65. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
66. The Firemen’s Ball (1967)
67. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
68. The Foot Fist Way (2006)
69. The Fortune (1975)
70. Four Lions (2010)
71. Gates of Heaven (1978)
72. The General (1926)
73. Get Shorty (1995)
74. Ghostbusters (1984)
75. The Gold Rush (1925)
76. Good Morning (1959)
77. The Goonies (1985)
78. The Graduate (1967)
79. Grand Illusion (1937)
80. The Great Race (1965)
81. The Groove Tube (1974)
82. Groundhog Day (1993)
83. Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
84. Heaven Can Wait (1943)
85. His Girl Friday (1940)
86. Horse Feathers (1932)
87. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
88. I Vitelloni (1953)
89. I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978)
90. I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)
91. The Incredibles (2004)
92. It Happened One Night (1934)
93. It’s a Gift (1934)
94. It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)
95. The Jerk (1979)
96. Jules and Jim (1962)
97. The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)
98. The King of Comedy (1983)
99. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
100. L’Atalante (1934)
101. The Ladykillers (1955)
102. The Last Detail (1973)
103. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
104. Let It Ride (1989)
105. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
106. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
107. Little Murders (1971)
108. Lolita (1962)
109. The Long Goodbye (1973)
110. Lost in America (1985)
111. Love and Death (1975)
112. Loves of a Blonde (1965)
113. M*A*S*H (1970)
114. The Man in the White Suit (1951)
115. The Man with Two Brains (1983)
116. A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
117. The Merry Widow (1934)
118. Midnight Run (1988)
119. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944)
120. Modern Romance (1981)
121. Mon Oncle (1958)
122. Monkey Business (1931)
123. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
124. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
125. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
126. Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953)
127. Mr. Mom (1983)
128. Mystery Train (1989)
129. The Naked Gun (1988)
130. Nashville (1975)
131. National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
132. Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941)
133. A Night at the Opera (1935)
134. Noises Off (1992)
135. One, Two, Three (1961)
136. Orgazmo (1997)
137. Our Hospitality (1923)
138. Out of Sight (1998)
139. The Palm Beach Story (1942)
140. Parenthood (1989)
141. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
142. Play Time (1967)
143. The Player (1992)
144. The Princess Bride (1987)
145. The Producers (1968)
146. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
147. Radio Days (1987)
148. Raising Arizona (1987)
149. Real Life (1979)
150. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
151. Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
152. Rushmore (1998)
153. Safe Men (1998)
154. Salesman (1968)
155. Schizopolis (1996)
156. A Serious Man (2009)
157. Shaolin Soccer (2001)
158. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
159. Sherlock Jr. (1924)
160. Shoot the Pianist (1960)
161. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
162. Short Cuts (1993)
163. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
164. Sixteen Candles (1984)
165. Songs from the Second Floor (2000)
166. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)
167. The Squid and the Whale (2005)
168. Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
169. Stripes (1981)
170. Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
171. Take the Money and Run (1969)
172. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
173. Team America: World Police (2004)
174. This is Spinal Tap (1984)
175. Three Amigos! (1986)
176. Time Bandits (1981)
177. To Be or Not to Be (1942)
178. Toy Story (1995)
179. Toy Story 2 (1999)
180. Toy Story 3 (2010)
181. Trading Places (1983)
182. Trouble in Paradise (1932)
183. Twentieth Century (1934)
184. Unfaithfully Yours (1948)
185. Up (2009)
186. Used Cars (1980)
187. Vernon, Florida (1981)
188. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
189. A Wedding (1978)
190. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
191. What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
192. What’s Up Tiger Lily? (1966)
193. The White Sheik (1952)
194. Withnail and I (1987)
195. You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939)
196. You Can’t Take It with You (1938)
197. You the Living (2007)
198. Young Frankenstein (1974)
199. Zelig (1983)
200. Zero for Conduct (1933)

Thanks to The Dissolve for first bringing this to our attention. Check out Mike Sacks' book right here.

Bill Hader isn't just a great comedic actor, because when you're a cast member on "Saturday Night Live," you're also a writer (if you want to survive anyway). Hader also worked as a writer on "South Park," dishing out episodes in just six days, as has become customary for Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Otherwise, Hader has just become a great comedy star, with roles ranging from Tropic Thunder to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and lead roles in this fall's must see indie The Skeleton Twins (he's fantastic in it), not to mention The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and next summer's Trainwreck, the latest film from Judd Apatow.

What's awesome is his range of films here from silent films like The General to much more recent films like Toy Story 3. Some of his choices aren't even straight-up comedies with films like Punch-Drunk Love, Eyes Wide Shut, A Clockwork Orange and Drag Me to Hell making the list. And then there's foreign films like Federico Fellini's The White Sheik, Amarcord and I Vitelloni, which should be required viewing anyway. This is truly an eclectic collection of films with a wide range of different kind of humor, which is what makes it a great study for comedy writers and cinephiles alike. Go watch them now!

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    Happy to see TALLADEGA NIGHTS and DRAG ME TO HELL on there.
  • denverchris
    No Planes Trains and Automobiles? Jeez, Bill.
    • Tony
      Very good point.
  • I love Terry Gilliam movies.
    • Tony
      Yup, I think Bill should of added The Fisher King to that list.
  • Xerxexx
    Tis a good list.
  • Xerxexx
    Amry of Darkness...hell yeah.
    • Wafffles
      Haha I came down here to say the same thing. True genius
  • Robert
    Though he gets props for "Coming to America," a movie that somehow was great but turned Eddie Murphy into this disturbing single cast movie machine, I'm skeptical of any comedian who doesn't list "My Cousin Vinny." Good writing with some vulgarity. An amazing straight man in Fred Gwynne, an Oscar winning performance from Tomei, but most importantly... Joe Peschi IS Vincent Gambini. Sometimes what comedy writers need to know is that you dance with the girl that brought ya. Look at Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan. Do you know how many people think Morgan is a single bit hack? I can name 10 among friends alone, but Tina Fey, both at SNL and on 30rock, let him be what he was by giving him material that was both funny but not too far from his range. Too many times we scratch our heads in comedy bot because we didn't get it, but because the person delivering the joke was out of his element. To see Peschi do what Peschi CAN do is an amazing moment even without the other high points of the movie.
    • Avi
      you made me curious so I will watch my Cousin vinny! Thanks for the tip...
    • Xerxexx
      Love when Vinny shoots widly into the night. Classic movie.
  • Avi
    what evil dead on this List??? And where are the two greatest of all time laurel and hardy with there Oscar winning movie the music Box? Or the chimp? And where on this List is Charlie Chaplin with the great great movie the great dictator??? And my Personal favorite spaceballs? I think it's a stupid List from a young boy who onley looks on you tube, and the history forgets!
    • Sky
      Are you a comedian that makes movies? Do people call you to hire you on projects that millions will see? NO? Oh really.... then STFU!
      • Avi
        euh euh! nope! blablabla blablabla! And who are you hiding behind a monkey face? Be a man for godsake! When you insult people you can at least show me you are! Creep!
        • Dylan Rays Barker
          It's bill
          • Avi
            hahahahaha oke! at least you are not hiding behind a stupid Photo! I thought all americans are pussy's. You restored my faith..
          • Sky
            WOW! No wonder i dont like you, u generalize people.
          • Avi
            maybe I do! And maybe I don't like people who are agresive at other opinions... So I don't like you either!
          • Sky
            im glad you dont like me, i dont want to know you so if you ever see me in real life i want you to walk in the other direction. There are so many pleasant people in this world, i dont wanna waste my time on another asshole.
          • Avi
            see there you go again! Being agresive for no reason... But oke if your friends are okay with that it's good!
        • Sky
          Hiding!? I'll be happy to show you who i am ass! It's not like this is a movie website or something, its not like we have the choice to represent ourself through the movies we like. AVI no one told you to put ur face in the hole, i would rather see a pic of the a movie you actually enjoy, because this is a movie website!!! I dont want to see ur ugly bald head.
          • Avi
            I don't think you ever read Freud!
          • Sky
            Who cares! this isnt a physiology website!
        • Sky
          And plus its Caesar from Dawn of the Planet Of The Apes.... i dont want ur weird blady head seeing my face, ur the creep that is calling me out for that. WEIRDO
          • Avi
            and you think when you are agresive to others that a discussion is possible?
          • Sky
            Ok lets have a discussion... stop making Firstshowing worse
          • Avi
            you will never meet me and if you do it will be the strangest thing ever! Will you meet me I think you will walk away because accidents ocur! When you have a photo from ceasar it means you have a aggressive personality and when you have not your own face on discuss means people can't see who you are. Or you are to ugly or you have something to hide. I don't think you are ugly but someone who is very alone because people don't understand your agresive attitude towards society. So you will shoot allot of people in the future, or beat your wife or die as a serial killer with no normal emphatic feelings towards others. And realy your parents are to blame!
  • TheOct8pus
    Good list, but still one man's opinion.
    • Charles Hamilton
      What else would it be, could it be but one man's opinion? Would it be a better list if he were two men?
      • TheOct8pus
        Yes. Or a committee of 3 cinephiles from every continent; one man, one woman, one child.
        • Charles Hamilton
          But it would still be the same list. The quality of the movies would not have changed.
          • TheOct8pus
            But Bollywood increases the overall quality of the list.
          • Charles Hamilton
            As would Cthulhu.
  • Nielsen700
    Who cares?
    • Sky
      Me, dick
  • Leeloo Dallas Multipass
    I'm just glad to see that Clerks isn't on here. Overrated tripe.
  • A comedy writer have to watch only 5 silent movies out of 200! 3 silent Chaplin and 2 Keaton, are OK... But where are Harold LLoyd, Harry Langdon and lot others? Where are the whole builders of visual comedy gone (Max Linder in front of all them)? What about the first example of slow burning via Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy? What about Chaley Chase subtility, or Mack Sennett crazyness? Nothing about what happened in Europe at Silent times (nothing of René Clair discoveries), nothing of the whole wonderful Boris Barnett works in URSS, no Yasujiro Ozu silent comedies, no funny and full of visual gags made in the most advanced avantgarde... Instead of all that, lots of reworks and bad copies of the great (and still modern and fresh) discoveries made during the silent era. I love Buster Keaton to death (he is the number 1 director and actor ever in my book) but I would preffer to just keep one tittle of him (The General or Sherlock Jr. are great options, but any of his movies could be) to allow the other myriad of tones of mastery be mentioned in any list. If I should make a song copying the Beatles I preffer to copy the original Beatles, not a copy of a copy of a copy fo a copy... made in 2012.
  • This can't be the right list....Where is ANIMAL HOUSE?
    • friskecomedian
      It's #131, under National Lampoon's Animal House.
  • brian caskian
    So Waiting for Guffman was 90% improvised.. how can that help me with comedic writing?
  • Thanks! I stand corrected.




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