20 Best Classic Romance Movies Of All Time That Show Us The Power Of True Love

Best Old Hollywood Romance Movies
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Movies and love stories that never get old.

No matter how many times you watch them, some classic romance movies will never get old. You can watch them a thousand times and still get the same feeling as the first time you watched them.

From Hollywood's Golden Age to beloved vintage classics, these love stories are timeless.

Classic romances are known for making us laugh, scream and cry all at the same time. Though not always based on true stories, they have a way of making us feel like they are real. They are relatable. Most people, even if they don’t always admit it, believe in finding their one true love. These romance movies do an incredible job of keeping hope alive and making us believe that we will one day have an epic love story.

We are made to believe that true love really can conquer all.

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What makes a classic Hollywood romance film truly great, is the ability of the writers and actors to make us feel something. Beyond just feeling an abundance of emotions, the greatest romance movies of all time go beyond selling us a fairytale. They make us think. They make us think about the power of love, and how it is not easy to continue to fight to be with someone you love, especially when everything and everyone around you seems to be against it.

The ability to endure so much heartbreak truly speaks to who we are as humans. It is in our nature to love and be loved, despite bad circumstances.

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There is an endless amount of great romantic movies to choose from, so narrowing it down to the top movies of all time was no easy task.

Listed below are 20 movies that are a must see. These are all great movies to watch. They will keep you on your toes and have you dying for more when the film comes to an end. Each movie has either won or been nominated for multiple awards and will go down in history for being among the best romance films ever produced. 

Enjoy the 20 best romance movies of all time!

1. Dirty Dancing

This classic romance drama stars actress Jennifer Grey who plays "Baby”, a young woman spending the summer at a resort with her parents. While at the resort, she meets one of the dance instructors named Johnny, played by actor Patrick Swayze. They end up falling in love as Baby is enlisted as Johnny’s new dance partner. What once started off as a boring summer ends up being the time of their lives.

The famous phrase “nobody puts Baby in the corner” will continue to live on. Even today, Mountain Lake Lodge, the place where the resort was located in the movie is still visited today. The resort hosts four Dirty Dancing weekends a year where guest can enjoy a full weekend of themed activities based on the movie.

2. Titanic

This movie captures a historical tragedy: the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic, the largest moving object ever built at the time. The Titanic was a ship of dreams, where people from all different places and classes could come and try to start over. A 17-year old noblewoman Rose, played by Kate Winslet, falls in love with a poor kid named Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) aboard the ship. 

Titanic is the fifth highest-grossing film of all time in both Canada and the United States.

3. Pretty Woman

In this romantic comedy, a prostitute played by Julia Roberts has her life changed when she is hired by businessman Edward (Richard Gere). As the two spend time together, they grow closer but soon realize that they come from two different worlds, which presents multiple obstacles.

What starts off as a simple business arrangement turns into something much more exciting. Julia Roberts received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for this film.

4. Sleepless in Seattle

Tom Hanks stars as a widowed father who is forced to be a guest on a radio show after his son calls in looking for a new wife for his dad. His story is heard by women across the world, who send letters to his home in Seattle. One of the listeners, Meg Ryan, is so moved by Hanks’ story that she decides she must meet him. Although engaged to someone else, she writes a letter asking him to meet her at the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.

The film had a total of 17 nominations, including two Oscars.

5. Before Sunrise

During a train ride, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meets Celine (Julie Delpy), and the two build a unique connection as they engage in a long and meaningful conversation. Taking a leap of faith, Jesse asks Celine to change her plans of returning to Paris to get off the train with him in Vienna. They explore the city, having the time of their lives which makes parting ways in the morning so hard.

Before Sunrise has become a landmark of indie filmmaking over the years.

6. Before Sunset

This film takes place 9 years after Before Sunrise. Jesse, now an author, travels around Europe sharing the story of his one night spent in Vienna with Celine. When he makes a stop in Paris, he encounters Celine again for the first time in years. They spend the day catching up, realizing that they are now both leading new lives with new people.

As they continue to spend time together they confess that the feelings from before have returned, and that they still long for each other. It is known for being thought-provoking, sophisticated and realistic. 

7. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind

This film takes place nine years after Before Sunrise. Jesse, now an author, travels around Europe sharing the story of his one night spent in Vienna with Celine. When he makes a stop in Paris, he encounters Celine again for the first tie in years. They spend the day catching up, realizing that they are now both leading new lives with new people. As they continue to spend time together they confess that the feelings from before have returned, and that they still long for each other.

It is known for being thought-provoking, sophisticated and realistic. 

8. The Notebook

Telling the story of a couple who fall in love as teenagers, The Notebook is one of the greatest love stories told. The two lovers face many struggles, including being separated by Allie’s (Rachel McAdams) upper-class parents, who disapprove of Noah (Ryan Gosling).

An old man played by James Garner regularly reads the unbelievable love story to his partner (Gena Rowlands) who has Alzheimer’s disease. The Notebook won eight Teen Choice awards.

9. Romeo & Juliet

A classic love story. In this Shakespeare romantic tragedy, Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) falls in love with Juliet (Claire Denes) after meeting at a masked ball. This is a problem, since their families are rival gangs who hate each other. In an attempt to keep them away from each other while making a strategic business plan, Juliet's father arranges for her to marry someone else.

Romeo and Juliet will do everything in their power not to be separated. In 2005, this film was included on the BFI list of 50 films to see by the age of 14. 

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10. Beauty & the Beast

Beauty & the Beast proves that true love can conquer all. The love of a woman melts the heart of a beast. To test her character she is asked to return a key by a specific time so that he will not die of grief. If returned he would be released from his beastly form and finally turned back to his handsome human self. 

The film has been adapted over 10 times over the years, with the most recent adaptation coming from Disney in 2017. 

11. Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind tells the story of Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), who has survived through the Civil War and Reconstruction. The viewer witnesses her manipulative nature and shows her tangled love affair with two men Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) and Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard).

This romance drama takes you on a wild journey of love. Gone with the Wind is the highest grossing film of all time with nearly 202,044,600 estimated admissions. 

12. Casablanca

The film follows night club owner Rick (Humphrey Bogart) who has hidden some letters written by refugees trying to escape the Nazis. Rick finds himself in trouble when the police suspect him of having the letters and come hard at him to give them up. Midst all of this, he is reunited with Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), with whom he shares a rough history.

Casablanca is said to have the most memorable airport tarmac scene in film history. 

13. Brokeback Mountain

The movie shows the lives of two men who meet unexpectedly and forge a lifelong relationship. Though they are both with other people, they continue an affair for 20 years. The emotional performance given by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal takes the viewer through the power of love that is often accompanied by joy and lots of heartbreak. 

Brokeback Mountain won three Academy Awards, including Best Director. 

14. While You Were Sleeping

Lucy Moderatz, played by Sandra Bullock, finds herself in a sticky situation after she rescues her crush Peter (Peter Gallagher) from being hit by a train. While Peter is in a coma, his family takes Lucy in after they mistake her to be his fiance. She never corrects them, and finds herself in even more trouble as she realizes she has feelings for his brother. 

The film was recognized by the American Film Institute in 2002 for a nomination on the AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions list. 

15. Ghost

Premiering in 1990, this film is about a banker Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze), who is murdered by a friend. His lover Molly Jenson (Demi Moore) is left to grieve all alone. Sam's spirit is left to roam the Earth to set things right and stop his friend from harming Molly.

This timeless film shows that even after death there are still some things we have to settle from our previous life. The film received 16 awards including 2 Oscars. 

16. Forrest Gump

Played by Tom Hanks, the title character Forrest Gump has never let his disadvantaged mind keep him from doing great things. He is an inspiration to others. He cares deeply about his childhood love Jenny (Robin Wright) who lives a troubled life and will try his hardest to save her.

The film takes us through his life story and how his experiences have shaped the person he is today. In 1996, a restaurant based on the film was opened. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company has since expanded to locations around the world. 

17. The Graduate

Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate returns to his parents house where he is seduced by a married friend of his parents, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). What starts off as a fling becomes messy when Benjamin falls in love with the one person he shouldn't: Mrs. Robinson's daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross).

The Graduate was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry. 

18. Moonstruck

Played by Cher, Loretta Castorini begins to fall in love with her fiance's estranged brother Ronny (Nicholas Cage). This film shows how individual issues become family issues. Each individual in the film has their own problems that need to be resolved, but soon find that their secrets collide. They must each make an effort to come up with a resolution. 

The film won 3 Oscars, and made Cher a full-fledged movie star. 

19. Shakespeare In Love

Filled with drama, this classic romance is centered around playwright William Shakespeare, who is suffering from writer's block. He soon finds his voice after meeting a beautiful woman, who is posing as a man in order to act in his play. This further endangers their already forbidden relationship. 

This remarkable film received an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Original Musical or Comedy Score.

20. Grease

Grease allows viewers to experience the adventures of a group of high school students in the 1950s. Sandy Olsen (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny Zuko (John Travolta) find themselves engaged in a summer romance. When school begins, they unexpectedly run into each other, realizing that they come from different cliques who don't mingle. They question then becomes whether or not Danny and Sandy will be able to get past the cliques to rekindle their romance. 

The film was said to be the most successful movie musical of all time.

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Alexis George is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.