Classic Romantic Films

Looking to have a romantic night in with your lover? Or maybe you’re in the early stages of a budding relationship, and want to share something sweet with your potential partner.

Either way, watching classic romantic movies together is a cheap and quick way to form memories and share a sweet moment together.

Maybe the two of you will pick up on a line or a routine from one of these classic romantic films, and it will become a sweet sort of inside joke. “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid” from the classic Casablanca comes to mind, but there are hundreds of other potential memorable lines from these movies.

8 Best Classic Romance Movies

My short list of the 8 best classic romance movies is by no means complete — but check out your local video store, and see which of these timeless romances you can pick up for your next movie or date night. You and your partner will be glad you did.

  1. Classic Romantic FilmsThe Thin Man – William Powell and Myrna Loy star in this romantic 1934 classic detective film. Powell is the very definition of “cool”, and his costar Loy is cute and funny in her own right. The film was nominated for four Oscars, but was completely snuffed and returned home without a single statue. Known as a “screwball comedy” (meaning its full of goofy jokes and sight gags), this film gets in your heart and stays there. The first of a trilogy (though the other two films aren’t really worth a mention), the suave 1930s dialogue will put you and your date in the right mood for romance.
  2. Casablanca – Any film featuring Humphrey Bogart would be perfect for a romantic night in with your sweetheart — the classic Casablanca is the ultimate in romance and in Bogart films. Playing opposite the beautiful and talented Ingrid Bergman, Bogart’s portrayal of Rick Blaine is perhaps the most recognizable film role in American movie history. Quotable quotes jump off the screen, from “Play it, Sam” to “The Germans wore gray, you wore blue” — and the film’s ending is truly the most romantic film conclusion ever made. If you and your lover haven’t seen this movie together yet, don’t wait another moment. Rent Casablanca and curl up together on the couch.
  3. The African Queen – If you ask me, the acting duo of Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart is unmatched in the world of American movies. The chemistry coming off these two veteran actors is more than just palpable — you can smell Bogart’s sweat as he drives his boat up the Ulanga River — you can feel Hepburn’s anger and compassion as she falls in love with Bogart’s rather distasteful character. This movie is perfect if you are a woman looking for a movie with enough action to interest your man, but enough romance to keep you glued to the screen. The ending will leave both of you on the edge of your seat. Released in 1951, this film earned Bogart and Hepburn both Oscar nods, though only Bogart took home the statue. Plenty of adventure and intrigue for you and your lover, watch this film for that delightful mix of laughter and happy tears.
  4. Roman Holiday – Audrey Hepburn, who will make at least one other appearance in my list, makes her major film debut in this hands-down romantic classic, directed by William Wyler — who would go on to make films like Ben Hur, Funny Girl, and The Children’s Hour. The plot is a bit strange for a romantic film, as it involves much deception and even criminal behavior on the part of the romantic leads. Don’t expect a happy ending — of course, sometimes a good downer ending can make a movie perfect. A long scene with Hepburn and her male counterpart riding a Vespa through the streets of Rome is huge in its scope, and is a classic Hollywood moment. The Italian setting is beautiful, and Hepburn won an Oscar for her acting.
  5. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – This 1961 film is on everyone’s “romantic movie” list — and for good reason. Based on the great Truman Capote novel of the same name, and featuring Audrey Hepburn when she was still absolutely gorgeous (as the lead character Holly Golightly), and the most romantic setting you could ask for in an American film, the streets and shops of New York City. A rare romantic film with a complex plot, you and your date may enjoy the movie as much as you enjoy simply looking at the beautiful costumes, the sweeping views of New York in the rain, and the silly gags in the film. Look for Mickey Rooney hilariously cast as Hepburn’s upstairs neighbor — a Japanese photographer.
  6. West Side Story – Released the same year as Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961 was a great year for romance, apparently), the film version of this classic Broadway musical sticks close to the stage script — weaving together big musical numbers, 50s stereotypes, and intimate dialogue to form an incredibly romantic and fun viewing experience. Don’t let the release date fool you — this film is straight out of 1950s era America. Winner of 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, West Side Story features classic songs like “Maria”, “Mambo”, and “America”. Don’t miss Natalie Wood at the height of her career (cut short by mysterious circumstances in 1981) in the starring role of Maria. When you think of West Side Story, think Romeo and Juliet meets Grease. This is a great cuddling movie, as you don’t have to pay too much attention to the plot. Make a night out of it — pour 50s-era classic cocktails (Martinis, Gimlets, Mai Tais, and Mojitos) and maybe even dress the part. West Side Story is the very definition of a romantic classic.
  7. Annie Hall – Woody Allen’s 1977 comedy predates the slew of “romantic comedies” in the late 80s and early 90s, but sets the perfect formula for these movie date classics. The fabulous Diane Keaton plays opposite the nerdy but lovable Allen. This film is far more “experimental” than many of the others on the list, as Allen’s character thinks back through memories of his lover, played by Keaton — often breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the camera. There are even animated sequences used to depict the love between the two of them. If you and your partner are the quirky type, this classic romantic film is right up your alley. Classic line: “That sex was the most fun I’ve ever had without laughing”. Between Allen’s comedy, Keaton’s great acting, and an overall sad plot line, this movie will stand out in you and your date’s mind for months to come.
  8. When Harry Met Sally – For those of you that just can’t stand the idea of watching a 60 or 70 year old movie — you’re in luck. This film, from 1989 (and thus still a “classic” at 20 years old) stars Billy Crystal at the top of his game, and a very cute Meg Ryan in an early role. An instant classic from the snappy dialogue between two lovers to the eventual very romantic and happy ending, this is another romantic film that throws in a good bit of comedy. Nothing gets people more in the mood than comedy — get a girl or a guy laughing and you’ve broken right through any barriers they’ve put up. As a bonus, look for the cameo by the director’s mother, Estelle Reiner — she utters the now famous line “I’ll have what she’s having”.

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