Sure, modern romances are great. But when you're not in the mood for something new, these get sweeter as time goes by.
Gone With The Wind (1939) The Citizen Kane of epic wartime romances. And one of the few to make us still give a damn after six decades.
The Philadelphia Story (1940) Oh, really, dahling, this screwball comedy about love among the lockjaws is superbly cast. Katharine Hepburn plays glamorous glacier pursued by smarmy ex-hubby Cary Grant and boozy reporter Jimmy Stewart (who won a Best Actor Oscar for this role). Together they mix a romantic triangle like a perfectly dry martini.
3 Casablanca (1942) Tough guy Rick (Humphrey Bogart) buckles when eternal flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) wanders into his gin joint. Only a passion still smoldering could get so bitter. No wonder she wants to stay—and we keep coming back.
It Happened One Night (1934) Runaway bride Claudette Colbert meets hangdog newshound Clark Gable on a bus and sets this road-trip romance on its way. The wisecracks fly, but the magic is in how two tough cookies crumble with tenderness.
The Apartment (1960) An office shlub (Jack Lemmon, never better) pines for an elevator girl (Shirley MacLaine, never cuter). Then he learns she’s been canoodling with the boss in Lemmon’s love nest. Even cynical Billy Wilder couldn’t resist giving these lovelorn losers a happy ending.
Brief Encounter (1945) The ultimate repressed-Brit love affair. Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson, married to others, have weekly tete-a-tetes after meeting at a train-station cafe. The desperation of illicit romance ensues.
Roman Holiday (1953) As a sheltered princess who flees on a whim with smitten reporter Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn is at her gamine best. But romantic escapists beware: There’s no ending sadder than Peck’s departure after Hepburn turns back into royalty.
Harold And Maude (1971) A teen obsessed with death (Bud Cort) gives the May-December romance a new wrinkle when he falls for a life-loving septuagenarian (Ruth Gordon). A definitive product of the ’70s. What other decade would show this odd couple postcoital and not only play it straight, but play it with affection?
The Way We Were (1973) The fantasy movie for anyone who’s ever yearned for that perfect, unattainable guy, this misty watercolor stars Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand as Opposites Who Attract and take us through WWII, marriage, McCarthyism, and an assortment of turtlenecks.
Romeo And Juliet (1968) Where art thou, cold shower? Franco Zeffirelli’s then-novel casting of actual teens (Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey) resulted in the steamiest R&J ever (sorry, Leo).
The People’s Choice
EW.com took the power of love to the people. And according to the 8,126 online voters, When Harry Met Sally…is the No. 1 mushy masterpiece (Say Anything…nabbed No. 2). Richard Gere and Julia Roberts got gold for best couple in Pretty Woman (Shakespeare in Love‘s Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow, left, were second fairest), while Leo and Kate’s Titanic moment was king o’ the love scenes. As for best smooch, Gere’s lip lock with Debra Winger in An Officer and a Gentleman tied with the sapphic action in Cruel Intentions. Lastly, Gone With the Wind prevails as the No. 1 classic.