Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with a good old-fashioned movie romance? (Sorry, guys, it’s her day, and we doubt she’s going to be up for My Bloody Valentine.) Here to make sure your day is an entertaining one, Life’d now takes a look at the 10 Greatest Romance Movies of All Time.
1. The Notebook
We’re sure they’re out there, but we’ve yet to meet a woman, who didn’t like The Notebook, and it’s been about nine years since the film, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel, hit theaters. Director Nick Cassavetes kept the time-jumping narrative on track and Gena Rowlands and James Garner did a fine job of portraying the longevity of true love in the older couple. This film was also a coming-out party of sorts for the careers of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams – so there you go, something for the guys as well.
2. The World of Suzie Wong
The World of Suzie Wong was a bit of a groundbreaker in its portrayal of an interracial romance – this was 1960 – between aspiring artist Robert Lomax (William Holden) and lovely Asian prostitute Suzie Wong (Nancy Kwan). The film takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotion. You’ll be downright charmed at Suzie one minute, amused at her dynamic with the white American the next, and then devastated by her experiences. Ultimately, it’s a bittersweet film, but one well worth the 126-minute runtime.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet starred in this instant classic from director James Cameron (Terminator, Avatar). It remains one of the highest grossing films of all time, and the first single film to crack $1 billion in box office, which means you’ve probably seen it at least once. So what? Watch it again. The wreck scene alone is still a jaw-dropper, and if you have any admiration of history whatsoever, you won’t be able to resist the artistry behind the production.
4. Dr. Zhivago
Few filmmakers can stand up to the mastery of David Lean. His handling of the simultaneously controversial and celebrated Russian novel by Boris Pasternak is perhaps his greatest career achievement, which is really saying something since the guy also made Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai. Dr. Zhivago tells the story of a romance set against the backdrop of three conflicts – the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the Russian Civil War. There are four known versions of it, and you’ll need an evening or two to get through whichever version you pick as each runs in excess of three hours.
War lends itself quite well to romantic drama. Perhaps it’s because every great love has its share of sacrifice and obstacles. And where can you find this any more prevalent than in the WWII drama Casablanca? It’s Bogey’s greatest film, and a touching story of love, friendship, and sacrifice. Humphrey Bogart is the perfect choice for American expatriate Rick Blaine, and the chemistry between him and Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) is almost painful to resist. A top-tier cast and a tense narrative that involves Blaine helping the woman, who jilted him, make for an unforgettable screen classic that holds up well whether you’re a fan of black-and-white movies or not.
6. Sleepless in Seattle
Sleepless in Seattle was a warm and funny romantic comedy that even guys can enjoy. It never goes over the top with the sap, while somehow managing to build a believable relationship between two people who’ve never met each other. For much of the film, that is the tease. Will they or won’t they? And director Nora Ephron handles it better than most. While films like The Notebook – also on this list – have a tendency to intentionally aim for the heart, Sleepless in Seattle hits the mark by simply allowing the characters to be themselves and the events to unfold.
7. It Happened One Night
Director Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life – another great romance, though more suited to Best Christmas Movies) had his hands full when he shot It Happened One Night in 1934. Screen legend Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind) didn’t want to do the film. Witnesses described his first words upon arrival to the set as being, “Let’s get this over with.” Co-star Claudette Colbert was even less enthused. Five other actresses had turned Capra down, and he only got a commitment out of Colbert by promising to pay her twice the initial salary and keep her part of the shooting to four weeks. She complained anyway later telling a friend, “I just finished making the worst picture I’ve ever made.” You couldn’t spot the discontent on screen, however. It Happened One Night went on to win five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Capra), Best Actor (Gable), Best Actress (Colbert), and Best Writing/Adaptation (Robert Riskin). Shows you what she knew. Charming comedy well worth a look.
8. Slumdog Millionaire
This Bollywood tribute and Best Picture Winner from Director Danny Boyle tells the story of a lower-class man, who finds himself on the verge of winning the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” The authorities are convinced he’s cheating, and so they torture him until he’s ready to tell the story of how he, a “slumdog,” could have gotten to where he is without trickery. A difficult tale of loss and regret unfolds with a touching romance that dates back to the man’s childhood driving the narrative.
The 1990 classic from Director Jerry Zucker tells the story of Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze), a man who is killed in a robbery gone wrong and then stays around to protect his girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore) from the killers. Ghost is funny, heartwarming and suspenseful, and well worth a look if you haven’t seen it already. (Yeah, sure you haven’t.)
10. Pretty Woman
Guys, chances are good that your girlfriend or wife has already seen this one, but most will want to watch it again, so let ‘em. Pretty Woman is a solid romantic comedy with perfect casting in Richard Gere as the successful corporate raider, who meets his match in prostitute Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts). A modern tale of knights in shining armor, rags to riches, and ultimate redemption, this flick isn’t a bad way to spend a couple of hours with the person you love.
Which movies do you believe should be considered the greatest movie romances of all time? We want to hear. Share your comments below.