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25 MOST ROMANTIC FILMS OF ALL TIME

Ah, Amour

As the old year ends and a fresh new year begins thoughts turn to what do you do during all those cold, dark and stormy days and nights?  For the unromantic, it can be a pretty dismal time of year when football ends, taxes loom and basketball is just hitting its stride.  But for those of us in love with love (or hoping to recapture that feeling) cold days + cold nights = incentive to coddle, cuddle and consummate.

Couples Company has assembled a list of our top picks for the Best  Romantic Movies of all time. These are predominantly drama with a few semi-comedic films.  However, we did not include movies featured in our list of TOP 25 ROMANTIC COMEDIES in this list or those on our TOP EROTIC/SENSUAL FILMS, many which include graphic sex scenes. The difference is these are drama's first with comedic undertones where as those in the Romantic Comedy list are comedies first.
Each has strong story lines,  incredible characters and showcase the dynamics of the romantic relationships between men and women. Kleenex is optional, though recommended.  Ready for a little Love? Presenting Couples Company’s picks for the Top 25 Romantic Films of all time.  Film's ranked on romantic content.  Stars apply to the overall quality of the film.


 

GONE WITH THE WIND - 5 Star
What woman hasn't wanted to be Scarlet O'Hara just once in her life? And what man wouldn't love to be Rhett Butler? Gone with the Wind continues to charm audiences  even 62 years later with its sweeping love story spanning the years of the civil war and the decade following. It is the movie all others are measured by and produced the first Academy Award® for an African American Actress (Hattie McDaniel as Mame) in history. Considering this was 1940's USA where we still lived in a segregated society, this is a well deserved but remarkable achievement.

In terms of tickets sold, Gone with the Wind is still the champ.  In terms of romance, chasing the one that will never be yours and not appreciating what you have until too late, this film is a great reminder of the precious gift love can be if only you open your eyes to see it.


BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S - 5 Star
Truman Capote's wonderful tale of singles life in New York casts Holly Go Lightly played by Audrey Hepburn as the ultimate scatter-brained party-girl who makes her living by earning $50 every time she goes to the restroom on a date and by carrying coded messages to a mobster in prison.  She is set on marrying wealthy but ends up falling for kept man and starving author whom she calls Fred, but is actually Paul.

Confused, frightened and terrified to commit, Holly won't even name her cat because this would mean they were responsible for each other.  The last scene is one you'll remember and cry over as in the pouring rain she searches for Cat after abandoning him and opens her eyes to true love in a rain drenched kiss.

This film touches a nerve with anyone whom has ever been afraid to love yet desperately longs for it.  Audrey Hepburn is at her absolute best and turns a somewhat narcissistic character into a woman most men would long to love.

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO - 5 star
My mother was 3-months pregnant with me when this film came out and I was named after the lead character Lara, though spelled differently. Needless to say, I have music boxes with the Oscar® winning Lara's Theme and several collectables from the movie even though I didn't first see it until 1987. At the time I thought it was funny how much I looked like Julie Christie and being a hopeful romantic, like many before me I too fell in love with the movie.

Set aside the personal notes and you have a film that countless young Baby Boomers fell in love with and to. It came out during the beginning of turbulent times in the United States on the heels of Beattle Mania, Vietnam deployment and two years prior to the Summer of Love.  It speaks of an earlier time of social turbulence during the Russian Revolution, the choices to be made between love, morals  and duty and the longing one feels when he/ or she fails to follow the heart.  The film brings a human side to the revolutionary saga and ends with a hopeful yet dismal look at the results of communism and a love both found and forever lost.

AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN - 5 star
What makes this movie a phenomenal love story is its  realism and its exploration of the less romantic sides of life like deception, dissolution, inner strength, grief and determination. 

An Officer and a Gentleman is really a coming of age story about a man in his late twenties determined to change his life.  He enters the Officer Candidate training and discovers an inner courage and strength he never knew existed.  During this time he falls in love with a young factory worker, discovers the harsher truths of human nature and becomes disillusioned by life. Like many men he tries to deny his love for her and escape.  Also like many men he ultimately discovers his life is empty without her and in the end he comes back, sweeps her off her feet and carries her into forever.


ROMEO & JULIET - 5 star
 This award winning interpretation of Shakespeare’s most beloved tale of star-crossed lovers is as epic in its visual elements and costumes as it is in the quality of the acting.

Even if you think you won't like Shakespeare, this film will change your mind.  The script is his, no alterations. 

Romeo & Juliet proves that this Renaissance man is truly the age’s master storyteller and still holds the key to enduring and unequivocal sensuality. Viva la romance!


CASABLANCA - 5 star
Considered by many one of the greatest movies of all time, Casablanca weaves a love story within the tapestry of war, intrigue and heroism. Featuring a love triangle which brings to bear a past love within the confines of marital infidelity, Casablanca shows the choice we make when morality and love collide. 

Humphrey Bogart plays a saloon keeper heavily distraught over the future and the one time lover of Ingrid Bergman.  When she wanders into his Gin Joint of all those in the world, the sparks begin to fly and the old romantic feelings are once again rekindled.  In the end Bogart does the hardest thing for any man in love.  He lets her go in one of the most famous good-bye scenes ever recorded on film.


THE ENGLISH PATIENT - 5 star
The English Patient, based on Michael Ondaatje's award winning and acclaimed  novel is one of the most revered films of modern times. For fans of World War II epics, The English Patient delivers a story of love and lost during trying times and illustrates the compassion human beings display at their best. This is one of those movies you'll want to watch several times.  It is both complicated and simplistic and boasts a number of flashbacks that add depth and meaning to each of the characters.  The critics fell in love with The English Patient.  After just one viewing, you will too.


THE NOTEBOOK - 4.5 star
This film has all the elements of a great romance.  The angst, crazy young love, lost love, found love and true love in old age. 

It's a film that truly reinvigorates ones belief that love is worth living and dying for.  Without giving away the plot, James Garner is a saint in this film, exactly the type of man every woman wants to spend the rest of her life with.  You will be caught up in this story from the first moments and guys may kick a bit and call this a Chick Flick, but it really is about what vows and love were meant to be...and the guy is the real good guy


LOVE STORY - 4 star
What makes this film a great love story is it shows the sacrifices people who love each other make in order to love each other despite the odds and the disapproval of others.  This is a tear jerker as in the end one of the two does die, leaving the other to face the world alone. If you're looking for uplifting, Love Story is not your movie.  If you're looking for an emotional tear-jerker, pop the popcorn and draw up a chair. 

This film was marketed to a generation of Baby Boomers proclaiming "Love means never having to say you are sorry," which is probably the worst advice any person has ever received.  It may also be why Boomers have the highest divorce rate in history


AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER - 4 star
Each engaged to others, Grant and Kerr meet on a cruise ship and turn society upside down as they fall in love with each other.  Agreeing to meet New Years Eve a top the Empire State Building, tragedy intercedes and the union is postponed.   In true romantic fashion, neither can forget the other but both believe the other does not want them. 

In the end the truth comes out and a lesson in love is revealed showing that true love overcomes all obstacles and accepts each unconditionally


MY FAIR LADY - 5 star
One of the ultimate Cinderella stories set to the music of Rogers and Hammerstein, My Fair Lady follows the transformation of "Gutter Snipe" Eliza Doolittle into a lady who can fool royalty with her elegance and grace.

The whole story begins as a bet when Professor Higgins states he can make any woman a lady simply by refining her speech and manners.  He succeeds yet unbeknownst to him, he has also fallen in love with her. Like most men though, It takes losing her for him to finally figure this out.

You may recognize this theme in later movies like Trading Places.  It's a popular theme and one that plays upon the hidden desires each of us has


MARTY - 5 star
We debated featuring this in best romantic comedies or best romantic films because it holds a lot of comedy and will have you busting a gut.  But it's really about finding love in middle age when it seems like love has passed you by for good.

Marty is a burly but gentle man, easing into middle age without much hope for romance or a career. He lives at home with his mother (Esther Minciotti), a kind but life-smothering woman, and a small circle of dead-end friends. Marty has no self-confidence and feels he's dumpy and unattractive. While it takes some doing, Marty's mother finally convinces him to go to the Stardust Ballroom in Manhattan, where he meets a plain-looking schoolteacher named Clara (Betsy Blair), whose life appears to mirror his own. He asks Clara to dance...for the rest, watch Marty. You'll love it!

JERRY MAGUIRE - 4 star
"You complete me."

It's not often that a romantic film strikes a cord with men.  Jerry MaGuire does.  Perhaps it is because this film captures a man's life and idea of romance as it inserts itself into his work.  Women see hearts and flowers and emotions as they define romance.  Men, action oriented see the completion of a quest and objective.  When she adds to his life and provides that stability in spite of his flaws.  When she sees him as a hero no matter what.  When she completes the picture of his life and suddenly a life without her is unbearable, this defines romance to a man. Jerry MaGuire is a romantic movie for men which illustrates the strength of love even when he is at his worst and how the right woman can still bring out his best.


THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY - 4 star
In 1982, the world first encountered Mel Gibson as Mad Max but it wasn't until 1983's The Year of Living Dangerously did the world completely embrace this superstar.

Set in Indonesia in 1965, the film follows the work of a troupe of International correspondents in Jakarta through the overthrowing of President Sukarno. Gibson plays Australian journalist Guy Hamilton aided by Billy (Linda Hunt playing a man) bent on delivering the story, whatever the cost. Through his quest he comes to respect the Indonesian people and falls in love with a British embassy liaison played by Sigourney Weaver.  The story, like An Officer and a Gentleman is a coming of age and coming to truth story where a man confronts his own immorality and ultimately decides that love is the one thing worth risking even his sight for.

This is an action packed adventure set to an alluring yet hauntingly sensual soundtrack that will give you a new appreciation for life and the gifts you have.


WHEN HARRY MET SALLY - 4 star
 Nora Ephron's rendition of modern love is much more realistic than any of the films previously mentioned. It plays on the love-hate relationship most encounter when falling in love and the terror that accompanies that letting go and letting in of another.  Rich in both comedy and drama it explores the long building friendship between a man and a woman over the course of many years and many loves. 

When Harry Met Sally will have you believing in fate and taking a second look at those whom enrich your life.  This film drives home the greatest indicator of a healthy marriage, that of friendship, respect and mutual trust.


BEAUTY & THE BEAST - 4 star
The first animated film ever nominated for Best Picture,Beauty and the Beast exemplifies the foundations of true love in a stirring adventure based upon the classic fairytale. Beauty and the Beast is Disney storytelling at its best and the story explores the depths of unconditional love. 

Though Angela Lansbury's voice is easy to identify, it is the late Jerry Orbach's (Law & Order) rendition of the love-sick candlestick Pierre that steals the show. All of the characters are memorable and the computer-generated graphics are a treat for the eyes.  Beauty and the Beast is a love story ageless and divine.


LONESOME DOVE (MINI-SERIES) - 4 star 
This is a great rainy/snowy day, let's cuddle on the couch flick.

Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones head this tremendous epic that depicts the last of the romantics in a wild west saga. Together they drive a herd of cattle 2500 miles from Texas to Montana and viewers are treated to the intimacy and adventure of their lives.  Intertwined is the love story concerning a young prostitute and an older woman Duvall's character never got over.  Other characters enter the scenes in sub-plots a an abandoned husband searches for his wife who has left to chase the man she never got over. Her story ends on in the badlands where she pays for her infidelity with her life.

Lonesome Dove has everything that makes a romance great and it elegantly, yet rustically explores the relationships that give life its spice and meaning.


AS GOOD AS IT GETS - 4 star
"You make me want to be a better man."

Similar to Jerry MaGuire, As Good as it Gets is the story about a man who finally grows up, albeit in his fifties due to his love of a woman.  Helen Hunt plays a struggling waitress and single mother of an asthmatic son, dealing with crisis and tough decisions as she plows forward with her life, one medical bill at a time.

The script is witty, funny and at times heart-wrenching.  What we like about this movie is its illustration of the give and take within a relationship as it builds and ultimately becomes real.  Too often people believe love Just Happens.  As Good as it Gets demonstrates love doesn't just happen but evolves one day at a time.

If you like this film, you'll also love Nicholson in 'Something's Gotta Give ' with Diane Keeton.


EDWARD SCISSORHANDS - 3.5 star
Edward Scissorhands is a modern day Beauty and the Beast which borrows some ideas from Frankenstein. What we like about this movie is its focus on the uniqueness in each person and how even the most unlikely can enhance the life of another. 

Edward Scissorhands bypasses the negatives and creates positives from adversity. Through the story, compassion unfolds bringing to light the gift of love through the acceptance of even the most daunting differences.  Edward Scissorhands is a love story for anyone who has thought he or she wasn't good enough and later discovered how exceptional he or she really is through the eyes of love.


THE AFRICAN QUEEN - 5 star
Meet the Bickerson's circa Bogart and Hepburn 1952. 

The African Queen is an unlikely romantic adventure set during World War I that illustrates the old adage, opposites attract.  When Bogart and Hepburn meet, sparks fly, just not the romantic type as both liberally display their mutual disdain for each other.  Fate has different plans though and through the course of dodging German war ships and mosquitoes, the two fall in love and ultimately marry each other as the hangman's noose slips over each lover's neck.  But don't worry, there is a happy ending and love does survive.  But you'll have to see the movie to figure out just how and why.


EVER AFTER - 3.5 star
Who doesn't love a great Cinderella story?  Ever After takes the old version, ditches the fairy godmother and throws in a little twenty-first century female empowerment into the mix to create a delightfully vicious and at time poignant version of this steadfast romantic classic.

Drew Barrymore shows her family legacy playing her part as Cinderella to a T.  Anjelica Huston takes the part of the evil stepmother and makes you believe she is the only person who should ever play it. Ever After is funny, charming and a feast for the eyes, the perfect appetizer to an evening of home-cooked romance.



TITANIC - 5 star 
Five Star movie overall but a 3 1/2 star on the romance portion which is why Titanic shows up at number 21 rather than the top 10.

IWhen this movie premiered in December 1997 I was fortunate to be dating a film and sound editor who insisted the only place to see this film wasGrumman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, after all, it had the best sound system. He was right and like most of the population, I was blown away.

The romance in this story is sweet but predictable, and at times down right annoying. However, the special effects and the first 20-minutes of the film showing the real Titanic are what make this film exceptional and one that will be cherished for generations to come. 


SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS - 4 star
In search of the truth a disillusioned movie mogul decides to experience life from the perspective of the other half and hobo his way across country...followed by his complete entourage in a fully equipped RV.  Roughing it and reality do have their limits!  Along the way he meets the seductive Veronica Lake and together they explore America with a satirical twist.

Director Preston Sturges is known for his romantic comedies and Sullivan's Travels is one of his best.  This film combines the best of drama with the sharpness of pointed dry whit.


REGARDING HENRY - 3.5 star
Like Always, Regarding Henry is not well liked by the critics. It's a love story so on par with today's reality, perhaps it hit too close to home for the critics? Ford plays a self-absorbed attorney who has replaced love with success when one night a bullet changes all of that. 

No longer the shark, the film follows his recovery and the rebuilding of his marriage as he and his wife rediscover their love for each other.  Past indiscretions nearly destroy the renewed romance when they bubble to the surface, but in the end, love and family prevail.

 

THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN - 4 star
Remember when you were single?  Okay maybe you still are.  Either way The Brothers McMullen will have you reliving the accomplishments and angst of the road to marriage, ex girlfriends, fiancées and all.  Some of the best films are created on a tight budget andThe Brothers McMullen is no exception.  This film is all about the story and relationships that sustain us, infuse us and inspire us throughout our lives. It even has a happy ending.

TRUE LIES - 4 star
True Lies is one of those films that just gets better and better each time you see it.  Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a CIA agent, but his wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) thinks he's just the average boring Joe.  Enter the opportunistic slimy car salesman who pretends to be a secret agent and suddenly Schwarzenegger's delicious jealous streak becomes apparent.  He becomes obsessed with his wife's new infatuation and in the course of teaching her a lesson, suddenly draws her into his secret agent world.

This action packed adventure comedy will have you and your lover rolling off the couch and cheering the couple both at the same time.  If you're looking for an unusual romantic movie, True Lies fits the bill and makes for a fun frantic evening.


Karin Harris commented on 23-Aug-2011 03:21 PM5 out of 5 stars
Would love to see the most recent years and how they compare to these films
Byron commented on 23-Aug-2011 03:37 PM5 out of 5 stars
I love this list!
Laura Lewis commented on 24-Aug-2011 08:09 PM5 out of 5 stars
This list was updated within the past 6 months and I'm always on the lookout for something. There have been some good romantic films out over the past couple of years but nothing that would knock out any of those listed in the top 25. We considered Slumdog
Millionaire but felt it was more dramatic than romantic. We also really liked 'He's Just not that into you' which would make the list of top 100 romantic comedies of all time, but it's not top 25 romance. Let us know if there are romantic films you like. The
editorial staff at Couples Company reads every single comment we get in and your suggestions often make it in to stories!
Anonymous commented on 28-Aug-2011 05:05 PM3 out of 5 stars
How about The Man in the Moon? Reese Witherspoon, in her film debut, as the 14 year old girl; Emily Warfield, as the older sister; Jason London, as Court, the 17 year old boy. Reese Witherspoon is astonishingly good in her film debut, displaying every
emotion that a 14 year old girl feels in experiencing young love and hurt, never striking a false note. Warfield and London are both equally good as well. The film accurately depicts each adolescent's thoughts or feelings in regard to love with heartfelt sensitivity,
never crossing over into maudlin excess even once. This is one of the very few films about young love that is honest and consistent in tone without being emotionally dishonest or sensationalist. The music is wonderfully simple, accentuating the tone and mood
from scene to scene, but never becoming intrusive. The beautiful cinematography is by famed horror director Freddie Francis, who was in his 70's when this was shot. Tess Harper and Sam Waterston play the girls' parents with dead aim accuracy for 1957, caring,
strict, and emotionally simple. Gail Strickland is good also as the boy's mother. There are feelings to sort out, lessons to learn, and truths to face in this sweet-natured film that packs an emotional wallop.
Laura Lewis commented on 30-Aug-2011 10:34 AM3 out of 5 stars
'Man on the Moon' is a good movie and it deals with first love quite well. There are a lot of really good movies out there. 'A Place in the Sun' with Elizabeth Taylor, which is a love story but more Film Noir since it deals with a murder. 'Charlie St.
Cloud' is a more recent film that's very romantic. 'Splendor in the Grass' should be on this list between 'Marty' and 'My Fair Lady' and we will update that. Possibly 'The Best Years of Our Lives' as well. Here's the challenge our readers. Let's work on a
list of the top 10 Romantic Date Movies of the past 10 years (2001-2011). Not romantic comedies, (e.g. Sleepless in Seattle, Hitch, Life as We Know It are comedies) but dramas. What have you liked in the past 10 years? What leaves you with wet eyes and tears
of joy with that happy ending? The Notebook falls in that era. Give me your ideas between now and November 2011 and we'll create a contemporary Romantic Films list.
Jane commented on 18-Sep-2011 08:32 AM1 out of 5 stars
Why are there no Jane Austen movies on there???
shigatsan commented on 23-Oct-2011 02:14 PM3 out of 5 stars
How about Notting hill? Serendipity? 50 First dates? Why aren't these mentioned?
Priyanka commented on 31-Oct-2011 08:23 AM3 out of 5 stars
Its really weird that you didnt include " A Walk To Remember " otherwise this list is really helpful
Anonymous commented on 06-Nov-2011 01:38 PM3 out of 5 stars
what of a walk to remember? It should be included
Laura commented on 27-Dec-2011 11:56 AM5 out of 5 stars
I would add to this excellent list a sleeper called A Good Year starring Russell Crowe. Wonderful, set in French wine country!
Robert commented on 05-Feb-2012 12:16 AM1 out of 5 stars
Most of these films are not romantic at all! My list would include: Return To Snowy River, Romancing The Stone, Shakespeare In Love, A Walk In The Clouds, While You Were Sleeping, Far and Away, French Kiss, The Family Man, Love Comes Softly, Maverick and
Groundhog Day !!!
chepkwony commented on 10-Feb-2012 01:08 AM3 out of 5 stars
yah men download all of them now!




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