Although Hollywood’s golden age (also known as the sound era, which took place between 1927 and 1960) was a particularly good time for film noir, musicals, and Western genres, it also counted on countless great romance films that stand the test of time today. Even in the silent era, when talkies weren’t a part of the picture, romantic dramas like Broken Blossoms were popular among audiences, managing to capture many viewers’ attention.
Now counting on diverse subgenres, the romance genre endures a very beloved one, with some of the latest memorable movies being Damien Chazelle‘s musical La La Landand Wong Kar-wai’s masterpiece In the Mood for Love. But which remarkable love stories reigned supreme during Hollywood’s golden age?
10‘An Affair to Remember’ (1957)
In An Affair to Remember, legendary movie star Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr‘s characters end up falling in love with each other after several days and promise to meet in six months at the Empire State Building. However, the two are in a relationship with other people by the time they fall head over heels for each other, and the real question is whether the day they get together will actually come.
Featuring a simple narrative, Leo McCarey‘s film may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Nevertheless, it is still well worth a watch, as it makes for an entertaining and sentimental romance movie that will sweep some viewers off their feet. On top of this, An Affair to Remember features amazing acting performances from both leads.
9‘Bringing Up Baby’ (1938)
Directed by Howard Hawks, Bringing Up Baby centers on a paleontologist (Cary Grant) who is tracked down by a tiresome heiress (Katherine Hepburn) and her pet leopard named Baby while attempting to collect a $1 million donation for his museum.
In addition to delivering a good dose of old-school romance with palpable chemistry between the two leads, the original 1938 film is nothing short of hilarious. The screwball comedy classic is a timeless feature that helped shape the genre and counts on a cleverly written screenplay and provides audiences with a good time in front of the screen.
Starring iconic movie stars Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn, this engaging 1954 feature is easily among the most popular (and unforgettable) from Hollywood’s golden age. The love triangle flick follows siblings David (William Holden) and Linus Larrabee (Bogart) and Sabrina Fairchild (Hepburn), the young daughter of the household chauffeur.
Billy Wilder‘s iconic movie remains a beloved piece of cinema today, and that is for sure. Holding up after 69 years, Sabrina is a highly praised romantic comedy that is equal parts charming and delightful as it is fun and humorous.
7‘Gone with the Wind’ (1939)
An epic romance film through and through, Gone with the Wind stars Vivien Leigh as Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara, who manages to survive the tragic events that occurred in the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction. The film also depicts her complicated relationship with Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).
While Gone with the Wind didn’t age as well given the way it handles sensitive topics (coming off as ignorant at times) it is still considered a classic of the romance genre by many thanks to its intriguing melodrama and good performances.
6‘The Philadelphia Story’ (1940)
This great romantic comedy titled The Philadelphia Story reunites Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn once again, introducing audiences to Grant’s C. K. Dexter Haven, a tabloid-type reporter, and his wealthy ex-wife Tracy Lord, played by Hepburn. When the former turns up to the latter’s remarriage, she reevaluates her choices and embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
What’s so great about George Cukor’s film besides the obvious — Hepburn and Grant doing a romantic comedy again and absolutely nailing it (especially Hepburn, who arguably gives the performance of her career) — is how timeless the film is. The Philadelphia Story is witty and engaging, featuring a great pace and excellent direction.
5‘To Have and Have Not’ (1944)
Also featuring Bogart (a few years before the previously mentioned film), To Have and Have Not is a film noir set during World War II. The plot centers on American expatriate Harry Morgan (Bogart), who romances a sensual lounge singer (the talented Lauren Bacall) while assisting in the transportation of a French Resistance leader and his wife to Martinique.
Howard Hawks‘ iconic movie is nothing short of unforgettable. In addition to an impressive screenplay, the 1944 feature features great acting and impeccable chemistry between the two stars, which is arguably everything one wants out of a romance film. What’s more, the film marked the beginning of one of Hollywood’s most iconic relationships, as the two leads got married shortly after meeting while filming.
4‘It Happened One Night’ (1934)
Perhaps the blueprint of romantic comedies, It Happened One Night is a remarkable 1934 film directed by Frank Capra. With Claudette Colbert and Clarke Gable as the leads, this acclaimed movie follows heiress Ellie Andrews (Colbert), who impulsively marries King Westley. When her businessman father (Walter Connolly) whisks her away on his yacht, she ultimately falls for a newspaper reporter (Gable) who helps her reunite with her husband in exchange for an exclusive story.
A bubbly movie that will keep viewers entertained, It Happened One Night marked a new high in the film industry back when it was released. With an influential premise, the charming rom-com and screwball comedy also features undeniable sparkling chemistry between the characters and endures a very treasured film of the genre.
3‘Roman Holiday’ (1953)
During her small escapade, a bored European princess (played by Hepburn) manages to get away from her guardians and takes off for a night out while in Rome. In the meantime, Ann falls for an American newsman (Gregory Peck), who takes her back to his apartment after she falls asleep on a park bench.
William Wyler‘s iconic and stylish rom-com counts on a charming premise that will likely sweep viewers off their feet. Roman Holiday also showcases Hepburn’s talent as a comic actress while highlighting her undying charisma and charm. All in all, a genuinely classic feature.
2‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (1952)
Easily one of the most popular musicals ever made, Singin’ in the Rain is about a silent film star (Gene Kelly) who, along with his co-star (Donald O’Connor), struggles to make the challenging transition to talkies in 1920s Hollywood. However, the real surprise is his falling for a chorus girl (Debbie Reynolds).
No wonder this comical masterpiece musical endures a must-watch after all these years. On top of an astounding script, it counts on excellent choreography, catchy songs, and impeccable dance sequences. It’s impossible to remain indifferent to Stanley Donen‘s movie, which beams with light and positivism still.
Also starring Bogrart as an American expatriate, Casablanca is a bewitching romance drama that follows a café owner who must choose whether or not to lend a helping hand to his ex-girlfriend and her wanted husband in order for them to escape the Nazis in French Morocco.