Entertainment TV & Film The Best and Worst Love Stories in War Films Share PINTEREST Email Print TV & Film Movies War Movies Best Movie Lists Comedies Science Fiction Movies Classic Movies International Movies Movies For Kids Horror Movies Movie Awards Animated Films TV Shows By Johnny Rico Johnny Rico is a U.S. Army veteran and the author of "Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green: A Year in the Desert with Team America." our editorial process Johnny Rico Updated January 02, 2018 Can love's tender touch take hold amid the horrors of war? Not a chance...it's the Best and the Worst war movies that were also love stories. 01 of 16 Gone With the Wind (1939) The Best! Gone With the Wind may not be the best war love story, but at three plus hours, it's certainly the longest. But don't let it's running time stop you. Or, the fact that it's in black and white (in some original versions), or that it's an old movie. If you haven't seen it, you really are missing out. It's a classic for a reason. The romance between Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) amidst the carnage of the Civil War remains one of the quintesential screen romances of all time. 02 of 16 Casablanca (1942) The Best! This 1942 film is not just one of the best war films of all time, it's frequently voted as one of the best films ever made of any genre. I'll second that motion. This is one of my favorite movies ever made. Casablanca tells the story of the cynical American Rick, a former freedom fighter retired to the deserts of Morocco where he runs into an old flame that he had met during the German seizure of Paris. She's part of the underground resistance movement and needs to escape Morocco in order to avoid arrest. The rest of the film involves his attempted acquisition of letters of transit from Nazi sympathizers, which gets his old flame (and her husband!) out of Casablanca; Rick stays behind, having risked everything to get her out - Here's looking at you, kid! It's old, and the age shows, but it remains a classic with crisp, clever dialogue, and a great love story where the guy doesn't get the girl in the end. 03 of 16 The African Queen (1951) The Best! What a great on-screen pairing! Bogie and Hepburn! Hepburn is the prim, up tight missionary in Africa, Bogart is the coarse, foul mouthed, drunkard who delivers her mail by air freight (this also happens to be a representation of their real life personas as actors too - Bogart was often drunk on set!) Until, as war has a habit of doing, their worlds are torn apart at the onset of the first World War, with the Germans attacking her mission, with Bogart determined to get her out of Africa. The couple is as unlikely pair as you'll ever find, but they have great chemistry, the romance is sweet, and the film is exciting. 04 of 16 From Here to Eternity (1953) The Best! It's the eve of the attack on Pearl Habor in Hawaii and Burt Lancaster is tearing up the screen with Deobrah Kerr. This movie has some classic scenes, like the kissing screen amid the waves. I know they're passionately into the kiss, but I can't help thinking, "Aren't they cold?" I would get cold. Hawaii is warm, but the water is still cold. 05 of 16 Doctor Zhivago (1965) The Best? Love amid the Russian revolution. (Editor's note: This is the one film on this list that I actually have not seen. But in doing research for this list, I've found it included on many other's "Romance in War" lists, so after a careful consideration of it's very high aggregate critical tomato ranking, I decided to include it. - Tough decisions everyday around here!) 06 of 16 Coming Home (1978) The Best! Jane Fonda, a married woman, falls in love with a disabled Vietnam war veteran played by John Voight. It's a touching film that takes veterans and their issues seriously. The film deals with the struggle of maintaining a relationship while deployed, war injuries, and complex views about the war in Vietnam. 07 of 16 Last of the Mohicans (1992) The Best! Michael Mann's Last of the Mohicans has more than just one of the all time best battle scenes ever put into a war film, it also has a pretty good love story. Madeleine Stowe and Daniel Day Lewis fall in love on the frontier. She's a good girl from a proper British home but she falls for his rugged good looks, lack of manners, and frontier freedom spirit. They don't exchange many words, but they look at each other with such longing, that you can believe they're madly in love after such a short period of time. When they're cornered in a cave under a waterfall, Hawkeye (Lewis), knowing he can't get trapped himself, tells her, "No matter what occurs! I will find you!" Then he kisses her intensely and jumps into the waterfall leaving her to the Indians with nothing but sweet words in his wake! Wow! What a guy! 08 of 16 Braveheart (1995) The Best! I won't get into the historical inaccuracies that so intensely bother me about Braveheart, instead I'll focus on its central love story. Mel Gibson plays William Wallace, returning after a long absence to the land of his childhood. Married in secret to avoid having to share his wife with the English Lord, his wife is later killed. The rest of the three hour film focuses on Wallace's blind angry rage as he stomps up and down the coast of England, killing Englishmen, marauding castles, and killing people. All to avenge his love! If that's not romantic, I don't know what is! 09 of 16 The English Patient (1996) The Worst! The English Patient, despite being an Academy Award winner for Best Picture, is not one of my favorite war films. The film follows Ralph Fiennes who falls in love with Kristen Scott Thomas (despite her being married) and there's a very dramatic scene where their airplane crashes, and he drags her into a cave where she clings to life. He marches into the desert to get help but is arrested, and it drives him crazy because - hey, his girlfriend is dying back in the cave! His girlfriend dies and he gets burned from head to toe, and hence becomes the English Patient that is being nursed in the cutaway scenes by Juliet Binoche. Oh, and then at the end of the movie he dies, too. And thanks to me, now that I've explained it, you don't have to see it. It's the most uplifting, cheerful film ever made. (This last statement is not truthful.) 10 of 16 Beyond Borders (2003) The Worst! Angelina Jolie and Clive Owens plays aide workers bouncing from one global hotspot to another. They fall in love, and are separated by war, meet up again in another war zone, and separate, and so on it goes. This film is preachy, something audiences hate. I'm not sure what it's preaching about, exactly. Global poverty, I think. There's also no central narrative or conflict beyond the "will they or won't they" question - but since we don't really care much about either of the characters, we don't care if they do or don't. 11 of 16 The Reader (2008) The Best! An unusual love story between a German boy and a much older woman who teaches him the "ways of the world" (for those not clued in, that's a euphemism for other activities!) Later, the woman is arrested for war crimes following the end of the second World War; turns out, she was a guard at a concentration camp and participated in the murder of Jews. Nonetheless, the boy, now an adult, still cares for her, and shows his affection by sending her tapes of him reading while she's in prison (she can't read). It's a tragic love story, and one that will make you sad, but it also poignantly suggests that evil is not black and white. That in each person there is both good and evil. And that even people who do awful, horrible things, have moments in their life where they are sweet, caring, and loving. A fantastic film. (Also one of the best films about the Holocaust.) 12 of 16 In Love and War (1996) The Worst! Not every part of our lives has the potential to be a movie. Sure, it might be exciting to us - we're the ones in the driver's seat living it - but that doesn't mean others will be entertained or interested. That's the case here with In Love and War, the story of a young Ernest Hemingway who apparently had a fling with a nurse while injured during the Spanish Revolution before they went their separate ways. Does the film say anything interesting about love or lost connections or war or the need to live in the moment? Nope. Just Chris O'Donnel (poorly miscast) and Sandra Bullock sort of flirting with each other. I'd prefer to stare out the window and just watch squirrels playing for two hours. 13 of 16 Captain Corellili's Mandelin (2001) The Worst! Captain Corelli's Mandolin stars two movie stars (Nicolas Cage and Penolope Cruz) with no chemistry together, both of whom turn in very poor performances. Beautiful locations and good cinematography, but apparently it captures little of its source material, an acclaimed book of the same name. Universally despised by critics, it's a boring slog through southern Europe during the second World War. 14 of 16 Atonement (2007) The Worst! This sappy unrealistic war romance isn't a very effecting romance, and the war is barely noticeable, simply relegated to background scenery. (What unit is James McAvoy's character with? What is his mission? We never know...he simply walks around the forest with three friends throughout most of the movie, as if that's how units patrolled, aimlessly in groups of no more than four individuals.) 15 of 16 Dear John (2010) The Worst! War as found in a Nicholas Sparks novel. Soldier (Special Forces, of course!) falls in love, the Army keeps them apart, she falls in love with someone else in his absence - but ultimately, their love endures and conquers all. Avoid this film at all costs. This isn't a war film and it's certainly not written by anyone with a war background. The romance is gooey and saccharine, the military drama is lame, and the plot contrived, playing into every awful convention Hollywood has ever had. Written by someone imagining what a Special Forces soldier goes through. 16 of 16 Amira and Sam (2015) The Worst! An understated droll Green Beret and a feisty spirited Muslim woman fall in love! Hilarious, right? Unfortunately, this romantic comedy is a bit too light in the loafers. There's barely a plot, and the romance on-screen is uniquely linearly non-complex, which is to say too simple. Three scenes of meeting, two scenes of them being interested in one another, three scenes of being in love. The End.