Suggest your favorite classic romance film
April 15, 2007 1:04 AM   Subscribe

Oh man, I am a sucker for old romances. Your film recommendations, please?

My guilty pleasure: getting hammered and watching whatever's on PBS at 3am. Tonight it was one of my favorites, The Best Years of our Lives. Other films I love include St. Martin's Lane and Ball of Fire. Hook me up with your favorite b&w romantic comedies or all-out weepers, so I can fill my Netflix queue instead of waiting on public television for my fix.
posted by sonofslim to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
The Philadelphia Story -- features James Stewart (McCauley Connor), Katherine Hepburn (Tracy "Red" Lord), and Cary Grant (best name in movie history: C.K. Dexter Haven). Also some wonderful supporting characters, including Uncle Willy and kid sister Diana. An amazing movie -- silly, serious, whimsical, profound, and simply a delight.
posted by davidmsc at 1:14 AM on April 15, 2007

My Man Godfrey? Ah, but perhaps you've seen it already, in which case, watch it again!
posted by chrominance at 1:31 AM on April 15, 2007

Roman Holiday is truly one of the best old romcoms, in my opinion. Stars Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn -- in her first major film role.
posted by night kitchen at 1:36 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was just coming in here to suggest Roman Holiday. It makes me want to die.
posted by granted at 1:41 AM on April 15, 2007

Now Voyager is pretty weeptastic. Bette Davis was really pissed off playing the Ugly Girl for the first third or so.
posted by griphus at 1:45 AM on April 15, 2007

Brief Encounter.... though maybe a bit too British for some !
posted by doogyrev at 2:11 AM on April 15, 2007

You can't go passed Casablanca in my view. "It's still the same old story/a fight for love and glory"....
posted by vac2003 at 2:22 AM on April 15, 2007

Brief Encouter is the archetypal weepie and trasncends boundaries. For a romantic comedy, is 28 years old too recent? If not, then Manhattan is a superior b&w film of this genre.
posted by Neiltupper at 2:26 AM on April 15, 2007

All That Heaven Allows, the Douglas Sirk movie with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. Heavy handed in parts but affecting.

After viewing, be sure to rent the recent remake, Far from Heaven, with Julianne Moore and Dennis Haysbert of 24 fame.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:48 AM on April 15, 2007

"To Have and Have Not." (1944) Humphrey Bogart falls for the 19 year old Lauren Bacall in her first movie role, and she wraps him right around her little finger. She sings a Hoagy Carmichael song, with Hoagy playing piano, too!
posted by paulsc at 2:48 AM on April 15, 2007

"The Clock" is recommended by people who like romances. I thought it was trash, myself.
posted by beerbajay at 3:06 AM on April 15, 2007

"I Know Where I'm Going"--a 1945 English film from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (the directors behind THE RED SHOES and countless other classics). Perhaps the most spirited and sweetest romantic movie ever made.
posted by quintno at 3:26 AM on April 15, 2007

Max Ophüls' Letter from an Unknown Woman is a classic. (Triva: IIRC Joan Fontaine stars who was the only actor to ever win an Oscar for a Hitchcock movie.)
posted by i_cola at 3:35 AM on April 15, 2007

The original Sabrina.

There's also Georgy Girl. Not extremely romantic but in the end, the girl gets a wedding and kids. Isn't that the goal of all romances? I liked it--but then again, I hated Casablanca.

Just for the hell of it, I recommend Gaslight for when you tire of the sappy stuff.
posted by who squared at 3:38 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

The romantic thread running through Notorious, even though it is a Hitchcock movie about uranium and damn Nazis, makes the movie worth watching over and over. The chemistry between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman works. It contains a very famous kissing scene.
posted by loosemouth at 4:11 AM on April 15, 2007

Here are a few I'm fond of off the top of my head:

The Apartment - Jack Lemmon is great in this one, a funny romantic comedy.

Modern Times - The relationship between Chaplin and his orphan love interest is so cute and well done.

Rebecca - Hitchcock. Romance and a great movie.

It Happened One Night - Probably seen this one, but if not a funny romantic comedy with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.

You Can't Take it With You - A tad cheesy at times, but I still like it! Another romantic comedy.
posted by meta87 at 4:14 AM on April 15, 2007

Desk Set (Spencer / Hepburn). One thing I really like about Desk Set is that it's about two grownups who both know what's going on as they quietly fall for each other, instead of being a glurge-fest. I also really like that nobody gets saved from miserable loneliness -- they were both pretty well satisfied with their lives before they met.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:00 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

I second Notorious. I wish I could see that again for the first time.
posted by JamesToast at 5:01 AM on April 15, 2007

I second the recommendation of Now, Voyager. I'm a weepy sucker for the final scene, with it's most memorable quote. Make it a Bette Davis double feature and watch All This, and Heaven Too.
posted by zarah at 5:47 AM on April 15, 2007

The African Queen. Katharine Hepurn and Humprey Bogart.
posted by severiina at 6:10 AM on April 15, 2007

The Thin Man - William Powell is a 'retired' detective and Myrna Loy is the heiress he just married. They trade quips, drink martinis, and solve crimes all while being very romantic.

Some Like It Hot - Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis witness a mob hit. To escape being hit themselves they get in drag and join an all-woman travelling band that includes Marilyn Monroe. Hijinks ensue.

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House - Cary Grant and Myrna Loy build a house and it is an expensive but funny and romantic hassle. No one does befuddled like Cary Grant.
posted by Soda-Da at 6:15 AM on April 15, 2007

His Girl Friday - One of the best scripts ever, smart funny romantic and surprisingly progressive, filled with in-jokes.
posted by softlord at 6:21 AM on April 15, 2007

A Matter of Life and Death. David Niven directed by Powell & Pressburger. Released as 'Stairway to Heaven' in the US. Wikipedia gives you a good taste of the flavour.

Nthing Brief Encounter. The ultimate.
posted by unSane at 6:47 AM on April 15, 2007

Not b&w and not english, but I'm recommending them anyway 'cause odds are that you haven't seen them and I consider them among the best romances ever made. Three films by one director, Patrice Leconte: The Hairdresser's Husband, Monsieur Hire, and Girl on the Bridge.
posted by dobbs at 7:12 AM on April 15, 2007

Actually, now that I think about it, Girl on the Bridge is B&W.
posted by dobbs at 7:17 AM on April 15, 2007

I want to second Desk Set which has quietly become my favorite Hepburn/Tracy for all the reasons ROU_Xenophobe mentioned, plus it is set in a research department and features an early computer for bonus fun.

Speaking of Tracy, I also recommend Libeled Lady with Tracy, Loy, Powell and Jean Harlow. Harlow is really, really funny in it and there's lots of good screwball confusion.

Not mentioned yet: Bringing Up Baby (Hepburn/Grant), My Favorite Wife (Grant/Dunne), Top Hat (Astaire/Rogers), You'll Never Get Rich (Astaire/Hayworth), Trouble in Paradise (directed by Lubitsch)
posted by julen at 7:39 AM on April 15, 2007

Third "Notorious."
posted by alms at 7:43 AM on April 15, 2007

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. 1947, Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison, three handkerchiefs.
posted by nonane at 8:18 AM on April 15, 2007

The Awful Truth, with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Romantic and funny.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:47 AM on April 15, 2007

seconding "Modern Times".
posted by gursky at 9:21 AM on April 15, 2007

Desk Set and The African Queen aren't in black and white.

The Shop Around the Corner is cute. "You've Got Mail" is based on it.
posted by HotPatatta at 9:43 AM on April 15, 2007

I cannot watch Stella Dallas (starring Barbara Stanwyck) without bawling like a baby at the end.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:44 AM on April 15, 2007

Holiday, another Grant/Hepburn movie.
posted by katemonster at 9:45 AM on April 15, 2007

Indiscreet is another romantic comedy about adults (Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman) who are intelligent and delightedly single, yet find love sneaking up on them.

Now that you've discovered Ball of Fire, be sure to check out some of Barbara Stanwyck's other romantic comedies including Christmas in Connecticut, the fantastic The Lady Eve, and the lesser-known The Mad Miss Manton. The latter two pair her with Henry Fonda, with a dynamic very similar to Ball of Fire.

Holiday Affair, with Mitchum and Janet Leigh, has a sweet melancholy that slowly blossoms into love.

You've got to do a Cary Grant/Irene Dunne triple feature. Penny Serenade is a classic weepie. Then in the The Awful Truth and My Favorite Wife they play separated couples deciding whether to divorce or fall hopelessly back in love with each other.

Love Affair is the classic star-crossed lovers flick. Might as well see that and a couple of its remakes (you can safely skip the Beatty/Bening one).
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:04 AM on April 15, 2007

I found one of my favorite movies by watching PBS at 3 am: An Affair to Remember. Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr and an ending that makes me cry every time I watch it.
posted by lagreen at 11:59 AM on April 15, 2007

I'd second The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Lady Eve, Indiscreet (not B&W though), and The Shop Around the Corner. The director of TSATC also made "Ninotchka", as in "Garbo laughed!"
posted by of strange foe at 12:08 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

2nding The Philadelphia Story and An Affair to Remember.

Wuthering Heights!
Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:12 PM on April 15, 2007

Digging further in Cary Grant's catalog: Father Goose (1964), The More the Merrier (1943).
posted by of strange foe at 12:15 PM on April 15, 2007

Oh, hell! nobody's yet said Gone With The Wind?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:16 PM on April 15, 2007

I'd agree with what most of what people have suggested (except Stella Dallas -- it makes me bawl too, but I'd hardly call it romantic, most of the story's about a single mom who doesn't want to get married again).

Brief Encounter is wicked-amazing.

Also: Holiday, with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. It's based on a Phillip (The Philadelphia Story) Barry play, and directed by George Cukor, who also did the film version of The Philadelphia Story a few years later.

Woman of the Year -- the first Hepburn-Tracy movie, it remains surprisingly modern.
posted by SoftRain at 12:31 PM on April 15, 2007

Adam's Rib
posted by matteo at 1:16 PM on April 15, 2007

I have to nth Notorious-- so incredibly sexy and there's a scene when Bergman is giddy and drunk with love, completely disarming performance and it makes her comeuppance in the scene totally heartrending.

I also recommend The Lady Eve-- screwball comedy at its absolute best, lovely, romantic, twisted, funny.
posted by eve harrington at 2:57 PM on April 15, 2007

The original Unfaithfully Yours is one of Sturges's lesser known classics, with patrician Rex Harrison (a stitch), yummy Linda Darnell, and that great lummox Rudy Vallee. Clever as shit.
posted by rob511 at 3:35 PM on April 15, 2007

I would highly recommend Portrait of Jennie with Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones. It is a very atmospheric and haunting love story.
posted by wannalol at 3:49 PM on April 15, 2007

I absolutely love The Best Years of Our Lives! Mrs. Miniver is in a similar vein of family-focussed war weepies.

The Palm Beach Story is a hysterical screwball comedy in the vein of 'Some Like it Hot' brilliantly written by Preston Sturges.

Ship of Fools is definitely an all-out weeper, a voyage set in the shadow of WWII and filled with numerous doomed romances. Over-the-top, but the story of the exiled Contessa and the ship's doctor is heartbreaking.
posted by Kirjava at 5:54 PM on April 15, 2007

All previous suggestions are great, especially the Sturges and Lubitsch films, but Holiday was definitely the first one that came to my mind.

Also, I just watched A Letter to Three Wives yesterday, and recommend that as well.
posted by estherbester at 7:48 PM on April 15, 2007

+1 Mrs Miniver

Mrs Miniver, A Matter of Life & Death, Brief Encounter

That's a fucking AWESOME sunday.
posted by unSane at 6:02 AM on April 16, 2007

I haven't read through the whole list so I don't know how many "nths" these get, but let me say:

It Happened One Night
You Can't Take it With You
My Favorite Wife
In the Good Old Summertime (not b/w but it's SO MUCH better than terrible You've Got Mail that I feel everyone should see it. :) )
The Ghost and Mrs Muir
posted by srah at 8:29 AM on April 16, 2007

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