classic movies The Greatest Early Romance Movies  

Ranker Film
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List Rules Vote up the very best romantic love story films that were made before 1950.

Who wouldn't swoon over a romantic tale of two people coming together against all odds to fall in love? These classic romances defined a beloved genre in cinematic storytelling. The best early romance movies feature A-list actors and actresses testing the notion that love conquers all. This is a list of the top old romantic films including everything from It Happened One Night to Bringing Up Baby to Rebecca.

What films will you find on this list of the best movie love stories? Casablanca is one of the most iconic films, let alone romances, ever made. Set amidst the turmoil of World War II, Casablanca sees Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) struggling to choose between the woman he loves and helping the resistance fight the Nazis. His Girl Friday is another movie released before 1950 featuring a timeless love story. Gone with the Wind is an epic tale of romance spanning the American Civil War. Other good films featured on this top early romantic movies list include The African Queen, The Red Shoes, and To Have and Have Not.

Do you have a favorite classic love story? Give the best movies a thumbs up and please add any good films that are missing.

list ordered by

1
58 16
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
Casablanca Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre 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

2
49 12
Gone with the Wind is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
Gone with the Wind Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel. It was produced by David O. Selznick of Selznick International ...more

3
36 6
Breakfast at Tiffany's is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Breakfast at Tiffany's Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Mel Blanc Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 American romantic comedy film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, and featuring Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and Mickey Rooney. The film ...more

4
38 7
It Happened One Night is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
It Happened One Night Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Ward Bond It Happened One Night is a 1934 American romantic comedy film with elements of screwball comedy directed by Frank Capra, in which a pampered socialite tries to get out from under her father's ...more

5
32 6
Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
Rebecca Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock, Joan Fontaine 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

6
28 8
The Shop Around the Corner is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
The Shop Around the Corner James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Margaret Sullavan 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

7
30 12
The Philadelphia Story is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
The Philadelphia Story Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart 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

8
16 2
Laura is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Laura Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Judith Anderson 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

9
22 6
His Girl Friday is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
His Girl Friday Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy 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

10
18 3
You Can't Take It With You is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
You Can't Take It With You James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Ann Miller You Can't Take It With You is a 1938 American romantic comedy film directed by Frank Capra and starring Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart, and Edward Arnold. Adapted from the Pulitzer ...more

11
19 4
To Have and Have Not is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
To Have and Have Not Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan To Have and Have Not is a 1944 American romance-war-adventure film directed by Howard Hawks, and starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan and Lauren Bacall in her film debut. Although it is ...more

12
20 5
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
Notorious Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, 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

The Best '60s Romance Movies

13
21 6
The Thin Man is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
The Thin Man Myrna Loy, Cesar Romero, Maureen O'Sullivan The Thin Man is a 1934 American comedy-mystery film directed by W.S. Van Dyke and based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. The film stars William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and ...more

14
21 6
Wuthering Heights is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
Wuthering Heights Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Merle Oberon Wuthering Heights is a 1939 American black-and-white film directed by William Wyler and produced by Samuel Goldwyn. It is based on the novel, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. The film ...more

15
26 11
The Notebook is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added The Notebook Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling, James Garner The Notebook is a 2004 American romantic drama film directed by Nick Cassavetes and based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as a ...more

16
24 10
Bringing Up Baby is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
Bringing Up Baby Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Barry Fitzgerald Bringing Up Baby is a 1938 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and released by RKO Radio Pictures. The film tells the story of a ...more

17
17 5
West Side Story is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added West Side Story Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, John Astin West Side Story is a 1961 American romantic musical drama film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn ...more

The Best War Movies Ever

18
15 4
Now, Voyager is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Now, Voyager Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid 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

19
15 6
Romeo and Juliet is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
Romeo and Juliet Norma Shearer, Basil Rathbone, John Barrymore Romeo and Juliet is a 1936 American film adapted from the play by Shakespeare, directed by George Cukor from a screenplay by Talbot Jennings. The film stars Leslie Howard as Romeo and Norma ...more

20
10 2
Spellbound is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Spellbound Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, 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

21
12 4
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a 1958 American drama film directed by Richard Brooks. It is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Tennessee Williams adapted by Richard Brooks ...more

22
12 4
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, Lionel Stander Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is a 1936 American screwball comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in her first featured role. Based on the 1935 short story Opera Hat ...more

The Best Sports Romance Movies

23
9 2
Top Hat is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Top Hat Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire Top Hat is a 1935 screwball musical comedy film in which Fred Astaire plays an American dancer named Jerry Travers, who comes to London to star in a show produced by Horace Hardwick. He meets ...more

24
10 3
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American comedy-drama film produced and directed by Stanley Kramer and written by William Rose. It stars Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine ...more

25
11 4
The Lady Eve is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
The Lady Eve Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, Charles Coburn 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

26
7 1
The Farmer's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added The Farmer's Daughter James Arness, Loretta Young, Ethel Barrymore The Farmer's Daughter is a 1947 movie that tells the story of a farmgirl who ends up working as a maid for a Congressman and his politically powerful mother. It stars Loretta Young, Joseph ...more

27
8 2
Kiss Me Kate is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Kiss Me Kate Ann Miller, Keenan Wynn, Kathryn Grayson Kiss Me Kate is the 1953 MGM film adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name. Inspired by The Taming of the Shrew, it tells the tale of musical theater actors, Fred Graham and Lilli ...more

The 12 Most Extreme Actor Transformations

28
8 2
Random Harvest is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Random Harvest Greer Garson, Ronald Colman, Reginald Owen Random Harvest is a 1942 film based on the 1941 James Hilton novel of the same name, directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Claudine West, George Froeschel and Arthur Wimperis adapted the novel for the ...more

29
11 5
The Best Years of Our Lives is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
The Best Years of Our Lives Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Fredric March The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. The ...more

30
8 3
My Man Godfrey is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added My Man Godfrey Carole Lombard, Jane Wyman, William Powell My Man Godfrey is a 1936 American comedy-drama film directed by Gregory La Cava. The screenplay was written by Morrie Ryskind, with uncredited contributions by La Cava, based on 1101 Park ...more

31
7 2
The Postman Always Rings Twice is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added The Postman Always Rings Twice Lana Turner, Hume Cronyn, John Garfield The Postman Always Rings Twice is a 1946 drama-film noir based on the 1934 novel of the same name by James M. Cain. This adaptation of the novel features Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil ...more

32
8 3
The Women is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added The Women The Women is a comedy of manners by Clare Boothe Luce. The play is an acerbic commentary on the pampered lives and power struggles of various wealthy Manhattan socialites and up-and-comers and ...more

The Best Foreign Romance Movies, Ranked

33
7 2
Waterloo Bridge is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Waterloo Bridge Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, C. Aubrey Smith 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

34
8 3
The Letter is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added The Letter Bette Davis, Gale Sondergaard, Herbert Marshall The Letter is a 1940 American film noir directed by William Wyler, and starring Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall and James Stephenson. The screenplay by Howard E. Koch is based on the 1927 play of ...more

35
13 8
Love Affair is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
Love Affair Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer, Maria Ouspenskaya Love Affair is a 1939 American romantic film starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer and featuring Maria Ouspenskaya. It was directed by Leo McCarey and written by Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden ...more

36
8 3
Leave Her to Heaven is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Leave Her to Heaven Gene Tierney, Vincent Price, Jeanne Crain Leave Her to Heaven is a 1945 American Technicolor film noir starring Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, with Vincent Price, Darryl Hickman, Ray Collins, and Chill Wills. The story was ...more

37
8 4
Jezebel is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Jezebel Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Margaret Lindsay Jezebel is a 1938 American romantic drama film released and directed by William Wyler. It stars Bette Davis and Henry Fonda, supported by George Brent, Margaret Lindsay, Donald Crisp, Richard ...more

If You Could Only Eat One Food for the Rest of Your Life...

38
7 3
On the Town is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added On the Town Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller On the Town is a 1949 musical film with music by Leonard Bernstein and Roger Edens and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. It is an adaptation of the Broadway stage musical of the ...more

39
6 2
Peyton Place is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Peyton Place Lana Turner, Arthur Kennedy, Lorne Greene ... Marshall Cole Peyton Place is a 1957 American drama film directed by Mark Robson. The screenplay by John Michael Hayes is based on the bestselling 1956 novel of the same name by Grace Metalious. Peyton Place ...more

40
6 2
That Hamilton Woman is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added That Hamilton Woman Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Sara Allgood 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

41
6 2
Penny Serenade is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Penny Serenade Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Edgar Buchanan Penny Serenade is a 1941 film melodrama starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Beulah Bondi, and Edgar Buchanan. The picture was directed by George Stevens, written by Martha Cheavens and Morrie ...more

42
6 2
A Farewell to Arms is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added A Farewell to Arms Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes, Adolphe Menjou A Farewell to Arms is a 1932 American romance drama film directed by Frank Borzage and starring Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper, and Adolphe Menjou. Based on the 1929 semi-autobiographical novel A ...more

The Best Romance Movies Rated R

43
6 2
A Place in the Sun is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added A Place in the Sun Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Shelley Winters A Place in the Sun is a 1951 American drama film loosely based on the 1925 novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser and the play, also titled An American Tragedy. It tells the story of a ...more

44
9 6
Doctor Zhivago is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Doctor Zhivago Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Alec Guinness Doctor Zhivago is a British-American 1965 epic drama–romance film directed by David Lean, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. It is set in Russia between the years prior to World War I and ...more

45
7 4
Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Anna Karenina Greta Garbo, Basil Rathbone, Maureen O'Sullivan Anna Karenina is a 1935 film adaptation of the novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and directed by Clarence Brown. The film stars Greta Garbo, Fredric March, Basil Rathbone and Maureen ...more

46
6 3
On the Waterfront is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added On the Waterfront Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Steiger On the Waterfront is a 1954 American crime drama film about union violence and corruption amongst longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon ...more

47
5 2
State Fair is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added State Fair Jeanne Crain, Harry Morgan, Dana Andrews State Fair is a 1945 American musical film directed by Walter Lang. Is a musical adaptation of the 1933 film of the same name, with original music by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The film stars ...more

48
5 2
A Raisin in the Sun is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added A Raisin in the Sun Sidney Poitier, Louis Gossett, Jr. A Raisin in the Sun is a 1961 drama film, starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Roy Glenn, and Louis Gossett, and adapted from the play of the same name by Lorraine ...more

49
6 4
Dark Victory is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Dark Victory Ronald Reagan, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart Dark Victory is a 1939 American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding, starring Bette Davis and featuring George Brent, Humphrey Bogart, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Henry Travers and ...more

50
5 3
A Patch of Blue is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Early Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added A Patch of Blue Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters, John Qualen A Patch of Blue is a 1965 American drama film directed by Guy Green about the relationship between a black man, Gordon, and a blind white female teenager, Selina, and the problems that plague ...more