Classic Movies The Greatest Classic Romance Movies  

Ranker Film
3.6k votes 557 voters 21.1k views 59 items

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
205 51
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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
170 44
It Happened One Night is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

3
158 48
Gone with the Wind is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

4
127 36
Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

5
83 24
Laura is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

6
66 21
The Thin Man is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

7
67 24
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

8
72 28
Wuthering Heights is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

9
67 25
To Have and Have Not is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

10
60 23
The Shop Around the Corner is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

11
61 25
His Girl Friday is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

12
37 15
The Best Years of Our Lives is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

13
39 17
On the Town is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

14
41 19
Now, Voyager is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

15
47 24
Leave Her to Heaven is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

16
37 16
Spellbound is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

17
39 18
Top Hat is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

18
37 17
You Can't Take It With You is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

19
32 13
State Fair is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

20
31 14
Waterloo Bridge is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

21
38 20
Romeo and Juliet is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

22
32 15
Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

23
28 12
That Hamilton Woman is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

24
33 19
Love Affair is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

25
26 13
The Women is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

26
27 14
The Postman Always Rings Twice is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

27
13 3
Camille is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Lucy Hall added Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Joan Leslie Camille is an American romantic drama film directed by George Cukor and produced by Irving Thalberg and Bernard H. Hyman, from a screenplay by James Hilton, Zoë Akins and Frances Marion. ...more

28
73 59
The Philadelphia Story is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

29
22 14
The Farmer's Daughter is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

30
23 15
The Red Shoes is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Anton Walbrook, Robert Helpmann, Esmond Knight The Red Shoes is a British feature film about a ballet dancer, written, directed and produced by the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, known collectively as The Archers. The movie ...more

31
17 10
A Letter to Three Wives is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Kirk Douglas, Jeanne Crain, Thelma Ritter 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

32
19 12
Random Harvest is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

33
23 16
Jezebel is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

34
23 16
My Man Godfrey is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

35
23 16
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

36
9 3
The Rains Came is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Lucy Hall added Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power, Joseph Schildkraut The Rains Came is a 1939 20th Century Fox film based on an American novel by Louis Bromfield. A remake of the film was released in 1955 under the name The Rains of Ranchipur. The film was ...more

37
17 11
Gentleman's Agreement is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Gregory Peck, Dean Stockwell, Celeste Holm Gentleman's Agreement is a 1947 drama film about a journalist who poses as a Jew to research an exposé on antisemitism in New York City and the affluent community of Darien, Connecticut. ...more

38
60 54
Bringing Up Baby is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

39
15 10
Fire Over England is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Raymond Massey Fire Over England is a 1937 London Film Productions film drama, notable for providing the first pairing of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. It was directed by William K. Howard and written by ...more

40
17 12
San Francisco is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Jeanette MacDonald 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

41
16 12
The Letter is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

42
7 3
Till the End of Time is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Lucy Hall added Robert Mitchum, Dorothy McGuire, Guy Madison Till the End of Time is a 1946 drama film directed by Edward Dmytryk and starring Dorothy McGuire, Guy Madison, Robert Mitchum, and Bill Williams. Released the same year as but preceding the ...more

43
12 9
A Walk in the Sun is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Lloyd Bridges, Dana Andrews, John Ireland A Walk in the Sun is a World War II war film released in 1945, based on the novel by Harry Brown, who was a writer for Yank, the Army Weekly based in England. The book was serialized in Liberty ...more

44
17 15
Penny Serenade is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

45
15 13
Four Daughters is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added

46
27 26
The Lady Eve is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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

47
16 15
A Farewell to Arms is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added 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

48
14 13
Humoresque is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Joan Crawford, John Garfield, Craig Stevens Humoresque is a 1946 Warner Bros. feature film starring Joan Crawford and John Garfield in an older woman/younger man tale about a violinist and his patroness. The screenplay by Clifford Odets ...more

49
12 12
A Guy Named Joe is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Spencer Tracy, Irene Dunne, Esther Williams A Guy Named Joe is a 1943 film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by Victor Fleming, produced by Everett Riskin, from a screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, adapted by Frederick Hazlitt Brennan ...more

50
9 11
Three on a Match is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
dad&jill3 added Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Joan Blondell Three on a Match is a 1932 American pre-Code crime drama released by Warner Bros. The film was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and stars Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak and Bette Davis. The film also ...more