Entertainment
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The Greatest Classic Romance Movies

Updated September 18, 2020 7.9k votes 1.1k voters 56.9k views75 items

List RulesVote 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
    Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart
    412
    111

    Released1942

    Directed byMichael 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 Humphrey...  more
  • 2
    Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert
    321
    81

    Released1934

    Directed byFrank 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 thumb,...  more
  • 3
    Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh
    327
    91

    Released1939

    Directed bySam 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
  • 4
    Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock
    226
    74

    Released1940

    Directed byAlfred 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. The...  more
  • 5
    dad&jill3 addedGene Tierney, Clifton Webb
    171
    50

    Released1944

    Directed byOtto 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 Jay...  more
  • 6
    Tito2 addedCary Grant, Deborah Kerr
    115
    23

    Released1957

    Directed byLeo 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 movies...  more
  • 7
    James Stewart, Frank Morgan
    139
    40

    Released1940

    Directed byErnst 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 written...  more
  • 8
    Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant
    145
    50

    Released1946

    Directed byAlfred 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 entangled...  more
  • 9
    Myrna Loy, Cesar Romero
    134
    44

    Released1934

    Directed byW. 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 Nora...  more
  • 10
    Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart
    142
    49

    Released1944

    Directed byHoward 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 nominally...  more
  • 11
    dad&jill3 addedBette Davis, Claude Rains
    112
    33

    Released1942

    Directed byIrving 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 same...  more
  • 12
    Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell
    132
    50

    Released1940

    Directed byHoward 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
  • 13
    Laurence Olivier, David Niven
    132
    52

    Released1939

    Directed byWilliam 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 depicts only...  more
  • 14
    dad&jill3 addedLucille Ball, Ginger Rogers
    98
    32

    Released1935

    Directed byMark 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 and...  more
  • 15
    Lory Fernandes addedAudrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison
    76
    15

    Released1964

    Directed byGeorge 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 George...  more
  • 16
    Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright
    100
    34

    Released1946

    Directed byWilliam 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 film is...  more
  • 17
    MoonshadowRachel addedAudrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck
    57
    8

    Released1953

    Directed byWilliam Wyler

    Roman Holiday is a 1953 American romantic comedy directed and produced by William Wyler. It stars Gregory Peck as a reporter and Audrey Hepburn as a royal princess out to see Rome on her own. Hepburn...  more
  • 18
    dad&jill3 addedCarole Lombard, Jane Wyman
    81
    30

    Released1936

    Directed byGregory 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 Avenue, a...  more
  • 19
    Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant
    146
    91

    Released1940

    Directed byGeorge 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 Broadway...  more
  • 20
    dad&jill3 addedGene Tierney, Vincent Price
    90
    43

    Released1945

    Directed byJohn 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 adapted...  more
  • 21
    MoonshadowRachel addedAudrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart
    49
    7

    Released1954

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    Sabrina is a 1954 American romantic comedy film directed by Billy Wilder, adapted for the screen by Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor, and Ernest Lehman from Taylor's play Sabrina Fair. It stars Humphrey...  more
  • 22
    dad&jill3 addedFrank Sinatra, Gene Kelly
    83
    37

    Released1949

    Directed byStanley 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 same...  more
  • 23
    dad&jill3 addedIngrid Bergman, Gregory Peck
    77
    39

    Released1945

    Directed byAlfred 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 film...  more
  • 24
    dad&jill3 addedClark Gable, Spencer Tracy
    62
    26

    Released1936

    Directed byD. 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 Gable,...  more
  • 25
    dad&jill3 addedKirk Douglas, Jeanne Crain
    60
    24

    Released1949

    Directed byJoseph 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. It...  more