We all love a good romance movie. From heartwarming tales of love found against all odds to bittersweet stories of star-crossed lovers, we’ve compiled a list of the best classic romance movies that have stood the test of time. They’ve made us laugh, cry, and even fall in love.
Whether you’re a hopeless romantic or simply in the mood for a dose of heartfelt emotions, these movies will leave you spellbound and longing for your epic love story. Here are 11 of the best classic romance movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age. These timeless romances will stir your soul, for love knows no limits.
11 of the Best Classic Romance Movies
It Happened One Night (1934)
The Academy Award-winning film It Happened One Night sees socialite Ellie Andrews flee from her wealthy father to be with her beloved King Westley in New York. However, on the way, Ellie comes across Peter Warne, a journalist who plans on covering her story. The two of them strike a deal with each other – He helps her run away in exchange for the scoop on her. Sparks fly on the way and they just ooze chemistry.
It Happened One Night is directed by Frank Capra and stars Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable.
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
The 1940 flick became the inspiration for another classic rom-com, You’ve Got Mail. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch, the movie centers on two employees at a shop in Budapest, Alfred Kralik and Klara Novak. Alfred and Klara are rivals at work, unaware that they are also each other’s pen pals.
The Shop Around the Corner stars James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, Frank Morgan, Felix Bressart, and Joseph Schildkraut.
His Girl Friday (1940)
When it comes to classic romance movies, you can’t forget 1940’s His Girl Friday.
The film tells the story of Walter Burns, a newspaper editor on the verge of losing an investigative reporter who happens to be his ex-wife, Hildy Johnson. Hildy’s engaged to another man, and Walter suggests they cover one last story together in the hopes of reuniting. Walter ends up assigning Hildy a story about a man who is wrongfully convicted of murder. Hildy soon realizes how deep she got herself into the story when her piece turns out to have more merit than they thought.
Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell also have quite the chemistry and repartee with their fast-talking dialogue.
His Girl Friday also stars Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart, and Ernest Truex.
Next, is our pick for the best classic romance movie, Casablanca.
Considered one of the greatest movies in Hollywood history, Casablanca is also the most quoted romantic movie. American expatriate Rick Blaine owns a nightclub in Casablanca, the place where many who fled countries occupied by the Germans in World War II. His club attracts a rather diverse crowd, including officers of the Third Reich and members of the resistance. Things take a turn when Rick’s old flame, Ilsa Lund, arrives at the nightclub, along with her husband, the known resistance leader Victor Laszlo.
Throughout the movie, Rick is forced to choose between helping Isla and Victor flee to the US or having her stay with him. He ends up letting Ilsa go. Need we say more?
Casablanca stars Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, and Conrad Veidt.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Considered a classic due to the very famous dance sequence by Gene Kelly. Silent film star Don Lockwood falls in love with aspiring actress Kathy Selden after a few arguments. It takes place during Hollywood’s transition from silents to talkies, sprinkled with comedy care of Don’s best friend and film pianist Cosmo Brown. There’s also the foil that comes in the form of Don’s on-screen partner Lina Lamont.
Singin’ in the Rain also stars Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, and Jean Hagen.
Roman Holiday (1953)
Another one of our favorite classic romance movies is 1953’s Roman Holiday. This film marked Audrey Hepburn’s breakout role, which earned her an Oscar for Best Actress.
Roman Holiday takes viewers on a romantic adventure. Hepburn plays a princess who decides to go out on the town. She runs into an American reporter, Joe Bradley, played by Gregory Peck, and they go on an adventure. Romance ensues on the way, showing how love brings two people from different worlds together.
Roman Holiday also stars Eddie Albert and Hartley Power.
An Affair to Remember (1957)
Starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, the film sees playboy Nicolo Ferrante meet Terry McKay onboard the SS Constitution on the way to New York. Both of them are romantically involved with other people but eventually fall in love with each other. They promised to meet at the Empire State Building after six months if they end things with their respective partners and start new careers.
This movie is referenced in another Nora Ephron movie, Sleepless in Seattle. Who hasn’t dreamt of promising the love of their lives to meet at the top of the Empire State Building?
An Affair to Remember also stars Richard Denning.
Funny Face (1957)
Who wouldn’t want to fall in love while in Paris? Another romantic musical care of Fred Astaire, Funny Face also stars Audrey Hepburn and Kay Adams. Fashion photographer Dick Avery finds the next big it girl in the bookish Jo Stockton. Fashion, musical numbers, and romance make it a must-see for hopeless romantics.
West Side Story (1961)
Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer lead this movie adaptation of the renowned Broadway musical. It’s also inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet but with a modern twist. Two gangs, the Jets and the Sharks compete for control in the Upper West Side of New York. At the center of it all is Maria, whose brother is a member of the Sharks, and Tony, a former member of the Jets.
A star-crossed romance, it’s a film that will have you reaching for tissues. The 2021 version is no different, and Rita Moreno is also in both iterations.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Arguably Audrey Hepburn’s most popular role, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is considered another one of the best classic romance movies. Hepburn plays a New York glamour girl Holly Golightly, who loves to party and dates rich men. Holly soon becomes neighbors with a writer named Paul, played by George Peppard. Holly and Paul’s relationship blossoms even more when they decide to spend a whole day together.
Oh, and who could even forget their kiss in the rain? We’ve all dreamt of having that moment before.
For Love of Ivy (1968)
Sidney Poitier and Abbey Lincoln star in this romance movie about a Black woman named Ivy Moore who quits her job as a maid to attend a secretarial school. The Austin family, not wanting to let her go, hires a trucking company executive named Jack Parks to woo Ivy. Jack is coerced into dating Ivy to avoid his illegal gambling operation from getting exposed. They fall in love for real the more they spend time together.
For Love of Ivy also stars Beau Bridges, Nan Martin, Lauri Peters, and Carroll O’Connor.
In a world that is ever-changing, the allure of classic romance movies remains steadfast. These cinematic gems continue to captivate us, reminding us of the enduring power of love.
Whether you find yourself laughing, crying, or daydreaming about your own love story, remember that love is a universal language that transcends time. So, curl up with your favorite blanket and indulge in these timeless tales of romance, for they will forever hold a special place in our hearts and remind us that love truly is the most extraordinary force of all.