I’m a big fan of the Soviet comedy directors Eldar Ryazanov, Leonid Gaidai, and Georgiy Daneliya. Almost anything by them is worth watching, but here are my favorites (filtered for things that have a free YouTube version with good English subtitles, bold are the highest-recommended):

Я вам покажу!». За что Рязанов наказал Мягкова | Аргументы и Факты
Scene from "The Garage"

Ryazanov

  • 1966 Beware of the Car (Берегись автомобиля) [YouTube]
    • Comedy about a benevolent car thief who steals to donate to charity 
  • 1975 The Irony of Fate (Ирония судьбы или с легким паром!) [YouTube]
    • A New Year’s classic premised on the uniformity of Soviet apartment buildings—a guy gets drunk on NYE and ends up in a different city but finds an identical building that his key can access
  • 1977 Office Romance (Служебный роман) [YouTube]
    • Romantic comedy and satirical portrayal of Soviet office life
  • 1979 The Garage (Гараж) [YouTube]
    • Comedy set in a single room where people argue about who should lose their garage after the government decides to build a road through the plot they were collectively building garages on
  • 1987 Forgotten Melody for a Flute (Забытая мелодия для флейты) [YouTube]
    • Satirical romantic comedy about Soviet bureaucracy and its decline in power in the late 80s, great opening song (translate the lyrics)
  • 1991 The Promised Heaven (Небеса обетованные)
    • Sadly couldn’t find an English-subtitled YT link for this but I like it too much to miss off[1]
    • Tragic comedy about the lives of people made recently homeless during the Perestroika period, very sad and of its time

Gaidai

  • 1966 Kidnapping, Caucasian Style (Кавказская пленница, или Новые приключения Шурика) [YouTube]
    • One of the most famous Soviet comedies—a naive visitor to the Caucasus is convinced to assist in the “bride kidnapping” tradition
  • 1969 The Diamond Arm (Бриллиантовая рука) [YouTube]
    • Another one of the most famous Soviet comedies—diamonds end up being smuggled in the wrong guy’s cast because he happens to injure himself and say the “codeword” in front of the smugglers’ hideout
  • 1971 The Twelve Chairs (12 стульев) [YouTube]
    • Film adaptation of the satirical novel by Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov set in post-revolutionary Russia

Daneliya

Bonus recommendations

Юрий Норштейн: «Ежик в тумане» появился после криков и сердечных капель -  KP.RU
Still from "Hedgehog in the Fog"

Addendum: there is now a follow-up post on my blog with two detective series recommendations

  1. ^

    $10 bounty to anyone who finds a link to a free version of this with high-quality English subtitles

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11 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:
[-]EZ97130

I believe Gaidai's Ivan Vasilievich Changes His Profession (Иван Васильевич меняет профессию) also deserves an honorable mention, I am pretty sure it should be available with English subtitles.

Ah yes I liked this film also! Шурик returns

Additional recommendations (no YouTube links, sorry—maybe others can find some):

Gentlemen of Fortune (Daneliya)

Operation Y and Shurik’s Other Adventures (Gaidai)

White Sun of the Desert (Vladimir Motyl) … well, this one isn’t technically a comedy, but it’s not entirely serious, either. Plenty of comedic elements, certainly.

Animation:

Town Musicians of Bremen (YouTube links at the TV Tropes link. Bonus: if you’ve seen almost any of Gaidai’s films, you’ll find a certain trio of characters in this one to be quite familiar…)

Karlsson-on-the-Roof (Adaptation of a series of children’s books by Astrid Lindgren)

[-]iva52

For those who also like cartoons:

Treasure Island is available on YouTube with English subtitles in two parts: https://youtu.be/LUykh5-HGZ0 https://youtu.be/0lRIMn91dZU

Charodei? A Soviet fantasy romcom.

The premise: a magic research institute develops a magic wand, to be presented in the New Year’s Eve settings.

Very cute, featuring a bunch of songs, an SCP-style experience of one of the characters with the institute building, infinite Wish spells, and relationship drama.

I think I liked it a lot as a kid (and didn’t really like any of the other traditional new year holidays movies).

Trivia: this movie is very loosely based on the Strugatsky brothers’ Monday Begins on Saturday.

Oh interesting I don't think I've seen this one

I don't know if it's a good English translation or not, but it's free, and 4K.

I saw this but was a bit scared about the upsampling distorting something unnaturally. I should give it a watch though and see!