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The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s 

Ranker Film
Updated July 8, 2019 1.3k votes 274 voters 13.8k views 48 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite love films that were released in the 1940s

With this list of 1940s romance movies ranked from best to worst, you can travel back to a bygone era of cinematic romance. Modern audiences tend to lump classic films together, but '40s romantic movies vary wildly, from the madcap holiday comedy of The Philadelphia Story to the lovesick WWII drama of Casablanca. That's right, Casablanca: the film widely cited as the greatest of all time is a romance movie from the 1940s.

Naturally, it's on this list of '40s romance movies. This heartbreaking tale of star-crossed lovers starred two of the biggest movie stars of the day, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. This list of the best 1940s romance movies also contains such films as His Girl Friday and Meet Me in St. Louis.

Though he is best known for suspense thrillers, several of Alfred Hitchcock's best movies contain classic love stories. Notorious and Spellbound both feature great suspense as well as timeless romance.

Do you have a favorite 1940s romantic movie? Make it known with your votes, which determine the order of this '40s romance movies list. Vote up the films you love the most, don't hesitate to add any that aren't already accounted for, and rerank the list if you've got the film knowledge.
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1
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre

Released: 1942

Directed by: Michael Curtiz

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars ...more

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2
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Natalie Wood, Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison

Released: 1947

Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a romantic fantasy film starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. It is based on a 1945 novel written by Josephine Leslie under the pseudonym of R. A. Dick. In 1945, ...more

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3
Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine

Released: 1940

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Rebecca is a 1940 American psychological thriller-drama film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it was his first American project, and his first film produced under contract with David O. Selznick. ...more

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4
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock

Released: 1946

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Notorious is a 1946 American spy thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately ...more

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5
To Have and Have Not is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan

Released: 1944

Directed by: Howard Hawks

To Have and Have Not is a 1944 American romance-adventure film directed by Howard Hawks, and starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan and Lauren Bacall in her film debut. Although it is ...more

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6
Now, Voyager is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid

Released: 1942

Directed by: Irving Rapper

Now, Voyager is a 1942 American drama film starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains, and directed by Irving Rapper. The screenplay by Casey Robinson is based on the 1941 novel of the ...more

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7
Brief Encounter is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Trevor Howard, Celia Johnson, Stanley Holloway

Released: 1945

Directed by: David Lean

Brief Encounter is a 1945 British film directed by David Lean about British suburban life, centering on Laura, a married woman with children whose conventional life becomes increasingly ...more

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8
Laura is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Judith Anderson

Released: 1944

Directed by: Otto Preminger

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Laura is a 1944 American film noir produced and directed by Otto Preminger. It stars Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, and Clifton Webb along with Vincent Price and Judith Anderson. The screenplay by ...more

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9
Gilda is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready

Released: 1946

Directed by: Charles Vidor

Gilda is a 1946 American black-and-white film noir directed by Charles Vidor and starring Rita Hayworth in her signature role as the ultimate femme fatale and Glenn Ford as a young thug. The ...more
10
The Shop Around the Corn... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Margaret Sullavan

Released: 1940

Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch

The Shop Around the Corner is a 1940 American romantic comedy film produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, and Frank Morgan. The screenplay was ...more

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11
The Philadelphia Story ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart

Released: 1940

Directed by: George Cukor

The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart and featuring Ruth Hussey. Based on the ...more

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12
I'll Be Seeing You is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
ForLuvOfAnimals added Ginger Rogers, Shirley Temple, Joseph Cotten

Released: 1944

Directed by: William Dieterle, George Cukor

I'll Be Seeing You is a 1944 drama film made by Selznick International Pictures, Dore Schary Productions, and Vanguard Pictures, and distributed by United Artists. It was directed by William ...more
13
The Clock is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Judy Garland, Keenan Wynn, James Gleason

Released: 1945

Directed by: Vincente Minnelli

The Clock is a 1945 American romantic drama film starring Judy Garland and Robert Walker and directed by Garland's future husband, Vincente Minnelli. This was Garland's first dramatic role, as ...more
14
His Girl Friday is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy

Released: 1940

Directed by: Howard Hawks

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial His Girl Friday is a 1940 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, from an adaptation by Charles Lederer, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur of the play The Front Page by Hecht and ...more

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15
Meet Me in St. Louis is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Judy Garland, Mary Astor, Margaret O'Brien

Released: 1944

Directed by: Vincente Minnelli

Meet Me in St. Louis is a 1944 musical film from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer which tells the story of an American family living in St. Louis at the time of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World's Fair ...more

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16
Out of the Past is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Rhonda Fleming

Released: 1947

Directed by: Jacques Tourneur

Out of the Past is a 1947 film noir directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas. The film was adapted by Daniel Mainwaring, with uncredited revisions by ...more

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17
Letter from an Unknown W... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Art Smith

Released: 1948

Directed by: Max Ophüls

Letter from an Unknown Woman is a 1948 film directed by Max Ophüls. It was based on the novella of the same name by Stefan Zweig. The film stars Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan, Mady ...more
18
Beauty and the Beast is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Jean Cocteau, Jean Marais, Josette Day

Released: 1946

Directed by: René Clément, Jean Cocteau

Beauty and the Beast is a 1946 French romantic fantasy film adaptation of the traditional fairy tale of the same name, written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and published in 1757 as part ...more

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19
The Lady Eve is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, Charles Coburn

Released: 1941

Directed by: Preston Sturges

The Lady Eve is a 1941 American screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges which stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. The film is based on a story by Monckton Hoffe about a ...more

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20
The Bishop's Wife is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young

Released: 1947

Directed by: Henry Koster

The Bishop's Wife, also known as Cary and the Bishop's Wife, is a Samuel Goldwyn romantic comedy feature film from 1947, starring Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven in a story about an ...more

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21
Spellbound is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Alfred Hitchcock

Released: 1945

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Spellbound is a 1945 American psychological mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It tells the story of the new head of a mental asylum who turns out not to be what he claims. The ...more

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22
Waterloo Bridge is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, C. Aubrey Smith

Released: 1940

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy

Waterloo Bridge is a 1940 remake of the 1931 American drama film also called Waterloo Bridge, adapted from the 1930 play Waterloo Bridge. In an extended flashback narration, it recounts the ...more
23
For Whom the Bell Tolls ... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
Lucy Hall added Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper, Yvonne De Carlo

Released: 1943

Directed by: Sam Wood

For Whom the Bell Tolls is a 1943 American film produced and directed by Sam Wood and starring Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Akim Tamiroff, and Joseph Calleia. Written by Dudley Nichols and based ...more

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24
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Lucy Hall added Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Sara Allgood

Released: 1941

Directed by: Alexander Korda

That Hamilton Woman, is a 1941 black-and-white historical film drama, produced and directed by Alexander Korda for his American company during his exile in the United States. Set during the ...more

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25
A Matter of Life and Dea... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Romance Movies of the 1940s
David Niven, Richard Attenborough, Raymond Massey

Released: 1946

Directed by: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell

This film is a romantic fantasy film created by the British writing-directing-producing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and set in England during the WWII. It stars David Niven, ...more

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