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The Greatest Classic Romance Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated October 7, 2019 6.6k votes 926 voters 49.2k 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.

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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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2
Gone with the Wind is listed (or ranked) 2 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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3
It Happened One Night is listed (or ranked) 3 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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4
Rebecca is listed (or ranked) 4 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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5
Laura is listed (or ranked) 5 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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6
Notorious is listed (or ranked) 6 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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7
The Thin Man is listed (or ranked) 7 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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8
To Have and Have Not is listed (or ranked) 8 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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9
The Shop Around the Corn... is listed (or ranked) 9 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
10
Wuthering Heights is listed (or ranked) 10 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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11
His Girl Friday is listed (or ranked) 11 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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12
Now, Voyager is listed (or ranked) 12 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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13
An Affair to Remember is listed (or ranked) 13 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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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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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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16
The Philadelphia Story ... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
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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17
Leave Her to Heaven is listed (or ranked) 17 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
18
On the Town is listed (or ranked) 18 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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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
Spellbound is listed (or ranked) 20 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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21
The Women is listed (or ranked) 21 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
22
My Fair Lady is listed (or ranked) 22 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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23
State Fair is listed (or ranked) 23 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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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
25
Love Affair is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Classic Romance Movies
Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer, Maria Ouspenskaya

Released: 1939

Directed by: Leo McCarey

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