Classic Movies

The Greatest Classic Romance Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated October 7, 2019 6.4k votes 884 voters 45k views 75 items

List Rules Vote up the very best romantic love story films that were made before 1970.

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
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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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#166 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #182 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

2
It Happened One Night is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Ward Bond

Released: 1934

Directed by: Frank Capra

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

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#736 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #338 of 1,009 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Filmslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Gone with the Wind is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland

Released: 1939

Directed by: Sam Wood, George Cukor, Victor Fleming

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

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#163 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies The Most Memorable 'Gone with the Wind' Quoteslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

4
Laura is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Judith Anderson

Released: 1944

Directed by: Otto Preminger

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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#200 of 254 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #60 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

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

Released: 1940

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

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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#42 of 254 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #283 of 803 The Greatest Chick Flicks Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
The Thin Man is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Myrna Loy, Cesar Romero, Maureen O'Sullivan

Released: 1934

Directed by: W. S. Van Dyke

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

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#391 of 1,196 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #263 of 379 The Greatest Romantic Comedies of All Time

7
An Affair to Remember is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Tito2 added Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning

Released: 1957

Directed by: Leo McCarey

An Affair to Remember is a 1957 film starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, and directed by Leo McCarey. It was distributed by 20th Century Fox. The film is considered one of the most romantic ...more

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#53 of 172 The Greatest Date Movies of All Time #74 of 199 The Biggest Tearjerker Movies of All Time

8
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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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#15 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made #12 of 33 The Scariest Alfred Hitchcock Movies The Most Memorable Quotes From 'Notorious'

9
To Have and Have Not is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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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#108 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made #139 of 209 The Best Adventure Movies

10
The Shop Around the Corn... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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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#71 of 109 The Best Christmas Movies of All Time #16 of 75 50+ Quirky Romance Movies That Are Unique in Their Own Way #56 of 105 The Best Valentine's Day Movies

11
Now, Voyager is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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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#1,422 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #394 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Starslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

12
Wuthering Heights is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Merle Oberon

Released: 1939

Directed by: William Wyler

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

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#387 of 410 The Best Rainy Day Movies #39 of 78 The Best Period Romance Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
His Girl Friday is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy

Released: 1940

Directed by: Howard Hawks

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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#270 of 1,196 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time #48 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

14
The Best Years of Our Li... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Fredric March

Released: 1946

Directed by: William Wyler

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

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#83 of 379 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Ranked #41 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

15
Top Hat is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire

Released: 1935

Directed by: Mark Sandrich

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

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#42 of 376 The Best Musical Movies of All Time #133 of 217 Musical Movies With the Best Songs #409 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

16
My Fair Lady is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Lory Fernandes added Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Jeremy Brett

Released: 1964

Directed by: George Cukor

My Fair Lady is a 1964 American musical film adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical of the same name based on the 1938 film adaptation of the original 1913 stage play Pygmalion by ...more

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#7 of 376 The Best Musical Movies of All Time Every Song in My Fair Lady, Ranked by Singabilitylisted on Movies That Won Best Picture at the Oscars and Golden Globes

17
On the Town is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Ann Miller

Released: 1949

Directed by: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

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

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#80 of 217 Musical Movies With the Best Songs #63 of 101 The Best Dance Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

18
Leave Her to Heaven is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Gene Tierney, Vincent Price, Jeanne Crain

Released: 1945

Directed by: John M. Stahl

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
19
My Man Godfrey is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Carole Lombard, Jane Wyman, William Powell

Released: 1936

Directed by: Gregory La Cava

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
20
The Women is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added The Women

Released: 1939

Directed by: George Cukor

The Women is a 1936 American play, a comedy of manners by Clare Boothe Luce. It is billed as a commentary on the pampered lives and power struggles of various wealthy Manhattan socialites and ...more
21
A Letter to Three Wives ... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Kirk Douglas, Jeanne Crain, Thelma Ritter

Released: 1949

Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

A Letter to Three Wives is a 1949 American romantic drama film which tells the story of a woman who mails a letter to three women, telling them she has left town with the husband of one of them. ...more

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#157 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made #36 of 70 The Best Oscar-Nominated Movies of the 1940slisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

22
Spellbound is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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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#166 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made #329 of 582 The Greatest Film Scores of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

23
San Francisco is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Jeanette MacDonald

Released: 1936

Directed by: D. W. Griffith, W. S. Van Dyke

San Francisco is a 1936 musical-drama directed by Woody Van Dyke, based on the April 18, 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The film, which was the top grossing movie of that year, stars Clark ...more

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#141 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made Creepy Ghost Stories And Legends From San Franciscolisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

24
You Can't Take It With Y... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Ann Miller

Released: 1938

Directed by: Frank Capra

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

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#82 of 93 The Very Best Oscar-Winning Movies For Best Picture #152 of 232 The Best Black and White Movies Ever Made

25
State Fair is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Jeanne Crain, Harry Morgan, Dana Andrews

Released: 1945

Directed by: Walter Lang

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

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#146 of 217 Musical Movies With the Best Songs #39 of 41 The Best Musical Love Story Movies