The 10 Best Classic Romantic Movies

As Sam sings in Casablanca, "the world will always welcome lovers," and Hollywood will always welcome movies with great love stories. In no particular order, here are 10 classic romantic movies, in as many genres, with deeply satisfying love stories.

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Chick Flick - 'An Affair to Remember' (1957)

An Affair to Remember Movie Poster
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Guaranteed three-hanky tear-jerker with lovers separated first by their duty to others and then by fate, unbeknownst to one another. Deborah Kerr is lovely and Cary Grant has never been more urbane and desirable. Yum. 

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Adventure - 'The African Queen' (1951)

The African Queen movie poster
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A mature love story and a rollicking adventure movie, the only screen pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. A spinster well past her prime meets a scruffy ship's captain in the midst of World War I in Africa. Their intrepid journey down a wild African river on his boat, the African Queen, and their charming, almost shy devotion to one another are unforgettable.

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Musical Comedy - 'My Fair Lady' (1964)

My Fair Lady movie poster
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The enduring story of the little cockney flower seller turned into a proper society lady by linguistics professor Henry Higgins. Played to opposites-attract perfection by a cool and detached Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn as an irrepressible, determined gamine. My Fair Lady has great tunes, fantastic period costumes and a sweet love story in the Broadway musical based on George Bernard Shaw's play, Pygmalion.

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Musical Drama - 'West Side Story' (1961)

West Side Story Movie Poster
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Romeo and Juliet played out on the tough streets of New York. Natalie Wood is dreamily beautiful as the Puerto Rican Maria, hopelessly in love with Tony (Richard Beymer), former head of the rival gang. With fierce and haunting songs, vibrant choreography and a fiery turn by Rita Moreno as Maria's friend Anita, West Side Story is a Broadway smash brought lovingly to the screen.

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Screwball Comedy - 'It Happened One Night' (1934)

It Happened One Night movie poster
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A down-on-his-luck reporter crosses paths with a runaway heiress and realizes he's got the story of the century on his hands - if he can hang onto her. The two embark on a madcap cross-country trip by overnight bus, Model A motorcar, and shoe leather. Clark Gable is the irascible reporter and Claudette Colbert is the willful rich girl in this fast-paced, captivating comedy.

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Fantasy - 'The Ghost and Mrs. Muir' (1947)

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir box art
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The inspiration for a 1968 sitcom, this film stars Rex Harrison as the thundering ghost of a ship's captain who haunts the seacoast cottage of lovely widow Gene Tierney. He tries to drive her and her daughter out - but when he realizes they're in desperate need of funds, he dictates his salty life story to the proper widow. She takes it to a London publisher, and it becomes a bestseller. An impossible love story, impossibly tender. If you don't need a Kleenex at the end of this one, you've got a heart of stone.

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Suspense/Thriller - 'Vertigo' (1958)

Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo movie poster
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Kim Novak is the ice-cool blonde and Jimmy Stewart her protector and pursuer in this riveting story of obsession and doomed love. Vertigo was received with mixed reviews when it was released but is now widely recognized as one of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces, with almost surreal cinematography and dark undercurrents of voyeurism, madness, and manipulation.

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Romantic Comedy - 'Desk Set' (1957)

Spencer Tracy And Katharine Hepburn In 'Desk Set'
Spencer Tracy And Katharine Hepburn In 'Desk Set'. Archive Photos/ Moviepix/ Getty Images

One of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn's later vehicles, it's the charming story of man vs. machine, or rather woman vs. machine, as Tracy and his computer seek to replace Hepburn and her crack staff of reference librarians. Witty and good-natured, it's a bit of fluff, but enjoyable—and memorable—for the two stars at the peak of their craft in an affectionate, easy-going performance.

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Drama - 'A Star Is Born' (1954)

A Star Is Born movie poster
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Judy Garland and James Mason meet as her career is just beginning and his is peaking. She's a gifted singer and he's an alcoholic actor in a tale of the pitfalls of fame. Mason's character self-destructs in the film, but Garland's intense, involving performance is made all the more moving by the knowledge of her real-life tragedy. A Star Is Born was restored in the 1980s—be sure to watch that version.

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Wartime Epic - 'Casablanca' (1942)

Casablanca Movie poster
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Casablanca has it all—adventure, patriotism, suspense, witty dialogue, a terrific ensemble cast, and a passionate romance. For all their chemistry on screen, Ingrid Bergman said she and Humphrey Bogart were never close: "I kissed him, but I never knew him." Hollywood magic.