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The Greatest Classic Romance Movies

Updated September 18, 2020 7.9k votes 999 voters 53.6k 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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  • Casablanca1
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    Casablanca

    Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart

    Released1942

    Directed byMichael Curtiz

    Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on...  more
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  • It Happened One Night2
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    83

    It Happened One Night

    Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert

    Released1934

    Directed byFrank Capra

    It Happened One Night is a 1934 American romantic comedy film with elements of screwball...  more
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  • Gone with the Wind3
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    Gone with the Wind

    Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh

    Released1939

    Directed bySam Wood, George Cukor, Victor Fleming

    Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from Margaret...  more
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    #3 of 28 Civil War Movies List#97 of 549 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

  • Rebecca4
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    Rebecca

    Laurence Olivier, Alfred Hitchcock

    Released1940

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Rebecca is a 1940 American psychological thriller-drama film. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it...  more
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  • Laura5
    171
    47

    Laura

    Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb

    Released1944

    Directed byOtto Preminger

    Laura is a 1944 American film noir produced and directed by Otto Preminger. It stars Gene...  more
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  • An Affair to Remember6
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    23

    An Affair to Remember

    Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr

    Released1957

    Directed byLeo McCarey

    An Affair to Remember is a 1957 film starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, and directed by Leo...  more
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  • The Shop Around the Corner7
    133
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    The Shop Around the Corner

    James Stewart, Frank Morgan

    Released1940

    Directed byErnst Lubitsch

    The Shop Around the Corner is a 1940 American romantic comedy film produced and directed by...  more
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  • Romeo and Juliet8
    127
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    Romeo and Juliet

    Norma Shearer, Basil Rathbone

    Released1936

    Directed byGeorge Cukor

    Romeo and Juliet is a 1936 American film adapted from the play by Shakespeare, directed by...  more
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  • To Have and Have Not9
    142
    48

    To Have and Have Not

    Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart

    Released1944

    Directed byHoward Hawks

    To Have and Have Not is a 1944 American romance-adventure film directed by Howard Hawks, and...  more
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    #140 of 221 The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time#378 of 456 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time

  • The Thin Man10
    135
    43

    The Thin Man

    Myrna Loy, Cesar Romero

    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...  more
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  • Notorious11
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    Notorious

    Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant

    Released1946

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Notorious is a 1946 American spy thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock,...  more
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  • Now, Voyager12
    107
    34

    Now, Voyager

    Bette Davis, Claude Rains

    Released1942

    Directed byIrving Rapper

    Now, Voyager is a 1942 American drama film starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude...  more
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  • His Girl Friday13
    127
    50

    His Girl Friday

    Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell

    Released1940

    Directed byHoward Hawks

    His Girl Friday is a 1940 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks, from an...  more
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  • The Best Years of Our Lives14
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    36

    The Best Years of Our Lives

    Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright

    Released1946

    Directed byWilliam Wyler

    The Best Years of Our Lives is a 1946 American drama film directed by William Wyler and...  more
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  • Wuthering Heights15
    130
    55

    Wuthering Heights

    Laurence Olivier, David Niven

    Released1939

    Directed byWilliam Wyler

    Wuthering Heights is a 1939 American black-and-white film directed by William Wyler and...  more
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  • Top Hat16
    97
    35

    Top Hat

    Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers

    Released1935

    Directed byMark Sandrich

    Top Hat is a 1935 screwball musical comedy film in which Fred Astaire plays an American dancer...  more
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  • My Fair Lady17
    70
    14

    My Fair Lady

    Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison

    Released1964

    Directed byGeorge Cukor

    My Fair Lady is a 1964 American musical film adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical...  more
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  • On the Town18
    86
    39

    On the Town

    Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly

    Released1949

    Directed byStanley Donen, Gene Kelly

    On the Town is a 1949 musical film with music by Leonard Bernstein and Roger Edens and book...  more
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    #130 of 356 The Best Musical Movies Of All Time#86 of 206 Musical Movies With the Best Songs

  • My Man Godfrey19
    75
    30

    My Man Godfrey

    Carole Lombard, Jane Wyman

    Released1936

    Directed byGregory La Cava

    My Man Godfrey is a 1936 American comedy-drama film directed by Gregory La Cava. The...  more
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  • Leave Her to Heaven20
    90
    44

    Leave Her to Heaven

    Gene Tierney, Vincent Price

    Released1945

    Directed byJohn M. Stahl

    Leave Her to Heaven is a 1945 American Technicolor film noir starring Gene Tierney, Cornel...  more
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  • The Philadelphia Story21
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    93

    The Philadelphia Story

    Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant

    Released1940

    Directed byGeorge Cukor

    The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor,...  more
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  • San Francisco22
    64
    27

    San Francisco

    Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy

    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...  more
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  • Dark Victory23
    90
    53

    Dark Victory

    Ronald Reagan, Bette Davis

    Released1939

    Directed byEdmund Goulding

    Dark Victory is a 1939 American drama film directed by Edmund Goulding, starring Bette Davis...  more
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  • Sabrina24
    34
    2

    Sabrina

    Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart

    Released1954

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    Sabrina is a 1954 American romantic comedy film directed by Billy Wilder, adapted for the...  more
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  • A Letter to Three Wives25
    59
    26

    A Letter to Three Wives

    Kirk Douglas, Jeanne Crain

    Released1949

    Directed byJoseph L. Mankiewicz

    A Letter to Three Wives is a 1949 American romantic drama film which tells the story of a...  more
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