11 Greatest Hollywood Romantic Films of All Time

best hollywood romantic films

Hollywood has a long and glorious history of creating romantic films. Some of the most famous movie stars of all time have immortalized their love lives on the big screen through movies. 

It’s not always easy to find a romantic film. There are so many titles that it can be hard to narrow down your search. However, everyone has their own preferences and favourites when it comes to romance. If you’re looking for the best of the best in romantic films, then read on as we’ve compiled a list of the 12 greatest Hollywood romantic films from over the years.

1. Casablanca (1942)

Casablanca is a classic romantic movie about love and sacrifice. This film was produced and directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison’s unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick’s. It stars Humphrey Bogart , Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid.

Rick Blaine (Bogart) owns a nightclub in Casablanca, Morocco, at the beginning of World War II. Casablanca is a popular spot for refugees to gather and try to obtain visas to America, but it is in a country controlled by the Third Reich, and officials do not issue them without proper papers. If caught, they are subject to arrest or even execution.

Rick’s cafe becomes a meeting place for residents and refugees. The only kind of visa Rick will give is for people who are leaving on the last train out of Casablanca to Lisbon, Portugal. He gets upset when no one wants his bribe unless it is an extremely urgent matter.

Rick’s former love Ilsa Lund (Bergman), walks in during the Nazi Major Strasser’s (Conrad Veidt) raid of the building. She is with her husband, Victor Laszlo (Henreid), a famous exiled Czech resistance leader. Ilsa desires to flee Casablanca for America with Rick, even though she believes that Rick still loves her and wants them to leave together. She still agrees to go with her husband on the plane. Ilsa meets a resistance fighter named Renault (Claude Rains). However, Renault is a double agent who informs Major Strasser of Victor’s importance as a prisoner.

2. Titanic (1997)

Titanic is an epic romantic disaster drama that is set about on the great ship of the same name. The movie was directed by James Cameron, who also wrote the screenplay based on a story he had created with two other writers, and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher Bernard Hill and David Warner.

The story is about the ship breaking apart in the North Atlantic Ocean due to colliding with an iceberg and follows people aboard trying to get into lifeboats. “Titanic” was released on December 19th, 1997, by Paramount Pictures. It played in theatres for over a year straight without taking any time off for awards season, garnering more awards that year than any other film, including 11 Academy Awards.

The film starts with an older Rose, who is living in the 1930s, giving a brief narration of what happened during her voyage on “Titanic.” She describes how she was wearing a green dress and had for dinner oysters, roast duck and caviar. “Rose” goes on to describe how, later that night, she was getting into bed when she saw a painting of a naked woman and began to think about her lover, Caledon Hockley (played by Billy Zane).

3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a classic American romantic comedy directed by Blake Edwards and starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. While it is considered home to one of the most memorable characters in film history, Holly Golightly (Hepburn), the story also has its share of critics who claim that it glorifies the lives of wealthy white women as opposed to real, multi-dimensional female characters.

Holly Golightly is the eccentric, exuberant social butterfly who lives next door to protagonist Paul Varjak (Peppard). She hosts wild parties with her crotchety confidante and maid, played by Patricia Neal, throughout the night until dawn. After living a life of constant movement from one man to the next, Holly decides to change her life for good when she meets Paul. Her journey of self-discovery is one of her most humanizing traits as a character; all audiences see is growth throughout the film’s entirety that makes us want to root for Golightly’s success. She takes on more responsibility and becomes less reliant on her wealthy male suitors.

However, Holly’s obsession with wealth is also a prominent theme throughout the film. She wears little clothing to advertise that she comes from an affluent family, inhabiting glamorous clothes that seem to be hand-me-downs from older females. Even though she knows money doesn’t define who someone is on the inside, she still frequently discusses her desire to marry a rich man. The film also wouldn’t be what it is today without its protagonist’s infamous quote, “After all, diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” in reference to the expensive jewelry that Holly loves and flaunts.

4. Romeo and Juliet (1968)

Romeo and Juliet (1968 film) is a touching adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”. It tells the story of two star-crossed teenagers: Romeo (Leonard Whiting) and Juliet (Olivia Hussey). The opening scenes reflect on their names—’a rose by any other name’.

This version is based in Verona, with a few scenes in Mantua. This film has a happy ending, unlike other adaptations.

Romeo is a Montague, and Juliet is a Capulet, two families that hate each other because of political reasons. Despite their promise to keep the feuding families apart, Romeo and Juliet fall in love immediately after meeting each other at a party. The whole movie follows their relationship until the tragic end.

This film received four Academy Awards nominations: Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Music. It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) in 1969. The movie was also nominated for: Best Director, Best Screenplay – Adapted and Best Actress (Olivia Hussey).

5. The Notebook (2004)

The Notebook is a romantic film released in 2004, directed and written by Nick Cassavetes. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as the young lovers, with Paul Walker as their friends. 

At the beginning of World War II, Allie Hamilton meets Noah Calhoun when she’s just seventeen and falls in love with him as any teenager would. They have a brief, close relationship. Noah goes off to war, and Allie promises that if he returns, they’ll pick up where they left off. In the storm of war, Noah is missing in action for four years and is presumed dead. 

When Allie hears the news of this, she moves on with her life and eventually gets engaged to another man named Lon Hammond. Lon doesn’t share the same future plans as Allie, and this leads to a rift in their relationship, which ends in an unfortunate accident. In an attempt to mend things, Allie returns home, where her father forces her to read a letter from Noah that was delivered years after his disappearance. 

Reading the letter brings back memories of Noah, whom she had not forgotten. Once she knows that Noah is alive, Allie sets about to find him and fall in love again after years of waiting.

6. 50 First Dates (2004)

50 First Dates is a romantic comedy directed by Peter Segal, starring Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore and Dax Shepard. The film tells the story of Henry Roth (Sandler), who suffers from short-term memory loss due to a car accident.

Henry Roth (Adam Sandler), a lovable player with a commitment phobia, meets the girl of his dreams: Lucy Whitmore (Drew Barrymore). They’ve got quite an adventurous relationship, and things seem perfect except for one tiny detail: she has short-term memory loss and can only remember certain things for 24 hours. 

So when she wakes up on the day after their first date, she has no recollection of him and is quick to assume that they are not even dating. The story takes off with Henry trying to win her heart again every day without repeating himself over and over.

The film is typical of the romantic comedies popularized by Julia Roberts and has been deemed “one of the most romantic movies ever made” by Time Magazine’s review.

7. Gone with the Wind (1939)

One of the greatest Hollywood Romantic Films of all time is Gone with the Wind. The film stars Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in one of the most important love stories ever told. It tells the story of the war-torn south during the Civil War, where Scarlett O’Hara is forced to make a choice between her two lovers, Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes. 

The main characters in Gone with the Wind are based on real people from history, including President Abraham Lincoln.

The movie has been praised for its amazing cinematography and costumes, along with its brilliant acting performances by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. With a powerful love story at its core, Gone with the Wind is quite possibly one of the best Hollywood Romantic Films ever made.

8. Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Pride & Prejudice (2005 film) is a period drama film directed by Joe Wright and written by Deborah Moggach. It is an adaptation of the novel of the same name (1813) by Jane Austen.

In the English countryside, Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) lives with her mother and father. As the eldest, she is under tremendous pressure from her parents to marry. When Elizabeth, a vocal woman with an upper-class Mr Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), sparks fly.

Despite there being obvious chemistry between them, Darcy is extremely critical of Elizabeth, and she is in turn offended by his aloof manner. When Mr Bingley (Simon Woods), a friend of Darcy’s, falls in love with Jane Bennet, Elizabeth’s sister, all the girls in town are excited about their prospects because he has an estate nearby.

9. Pretty Woman (1990)

One of the biggest blockbusters in Hollywood is Pretty Woman. Pretty Woman (1990) is an American romantic comedy film starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, who also co-produced the film.

The movie is about a prostitute (Roberts) meeting a billionaire (Gere) in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day. Their meeting begins rather badly, but they develop feelings for each other over time until he proposes to her. 

The movie was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won three, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Julia Roberts. This film also won for Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Original Score.

Pretty Woman is a perfect example of how Hollywood can create an iconic romantic film that will live on forever.

10. Love Actually (2003)

Love Actually is a 2003 Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written by Richard Curtis and directed by Richard Curtis and Andrew Lindsay, produced by Working Title Films. This is a movie about the lives of eight students and their families at Christmastime.

The first plot thread is started by David (Hugh Grant), who has been caught having an affair with his secretary by his wife, then spends most of the film chasing after women in order to prove that he is not getting old and that he still has some ‘firing power’. However, David ends up meeting his dream girl in the form of Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), who is engaged to another man.

It tells the story of nine separate storylines that intersect at the London neighborhood of Notting Hill and the lives of its residents, all of whom are involved in some form of love. The film was a critical success for its unique blend of humour and heartwarming drama.

11. A Walk to Remember (2002)

A Walk to Remember is a coming-of-age romantic drama film directed by Adam Shankman and written by Karen Janszen. The film stars Shane West, Mandy Moore, Peter Coyote, and Daryl Hannah. The film was released on February 1, 2002, in the United States and Canada. It was based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks.

An angry teen named Landon Carter (Shane West) is sentenced to attend a church youth group after getting into a fight at school, where he meets Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore), a gentle and sincere girl who is dying of leukemia. Landon finds himself falling in love with her, but their relationship gets complicated when Landon’s troubled past comes back to haunt him.

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