1) “The African Queen” (1951) – Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart are Charlie Allnut and Rose Sayer in a Jon Huston-direcxted film based on a C.S Forester novel.
2) “The Quiet Man” (1952) – John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in a John Ford film.
3) “From Here to Eternity” (1953) – Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in the surf on the beach, with an all-star cast including Montgomery Clift, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra in a come-back role, Ernest Borgnine and Jack Warden in a film directed by Fred Zinneman.
4) “Sabrina” (1954) – Audrey Hepburn in a love triangle with Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.
5) “Picnic” (1955) Who can forget the sexy dance performed by William Holden and Kim Novak?
6) “Marty” (1955) – Misfit butcher Ernest Borgnine won an Oscar as a less-than-handsome man looking for love, and finding it in Betsy Blair’s Clara Snyder. Paddy Chayefsky story and screenplay.
7) “The King and I” (1955)- Deborah Kerr as Anne Leonowens and Yul Brynner in the role of his life as King Mongkut of Siam.
8) “An Affair to Remember” (1957) – Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant as Tory McKay and Nickie Ferrante, and a great theme song.
9) “Raintree County” (1957) – Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.
10) “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) – Audrey Hepburn as Holly GoLightly in a Blake Edwards-directed film from the Truman Capote novel, with George Peppard as Paul and Buddy Ebsen as the ghost of her past.
11) “Splendor in the Grass” (1961) – Natalie Wood as Wilma “Deanie” Loomis and Warren Beatty as Bud Stamper, in an Elia Kazan-directed film from writer William Inge.
12) “Love with the Proper Stranger” (1963) – Steve Mcqueen is Rocky Papasano and Natalie Wood is Macy’s shopgirl Angie Rossini, struggling with the fact that abortion is highly illegal in 1963.
13) “Dr. Zhivago” (1965) – David Lean directed Omar Sharif as Dr. Yuri Zhivago and Julie Christie as Lara.
14) “This Property is Condemned” (1966) – A Syndey Pollack film from a Tennessee Williams screenplay, which Francis Ford Coppola scripted and which starred Natalie Wood as Alva Starr and Robert Redford as Owen Legate.
15) “Barefoot in the Park” (1967) – Jane Fonda and Robert Redford are Paul and Core Bratter in this Neil Simon play, and thenlove breaks out between Charles Boyer, as Victor Velasco, and Mildred Natwick as Ethel Banks, the mother-in-law.
16) “Love Story” (1970) – Arthur Heller directed this film from Erich Segal’s book (and screenplay) starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw.
17) “Ryan’s Daughter” (1970)- Sarah Miles and Christopher Jones in another David Lean film, from a script by Richard Bolt.
18) “Grease” (1978) – John Travolta as Danny Zuko and Olivia Newton-John as Sandy Olsson made summer romance fun.
19) “The Postman Always Rings Twice” (1981) – It was hot the first time, with Lana Turner, and Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson did this Bob Rafaelson screenplay project justice, even if it does involve scheming to kill Jessica’s husband.
20) “Dirty Dancing” (1987) – Patrick Swayze is Johnny Castle and “nobody puts Baby in the corner.” Jennifer Grey played Frances “Baby” Houseman (pre-nose-job) and Jerry Orbach was her dad.
21) “No Way Out” (1987) – Kevin Costner and Sean Young getting it on in a limo. Hot, hot hot.
22) “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) – Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. The most romantic thing about the movie is/are the cameos at the end with real-life couples who have been together for decades.
23) “Ghost” (1990) – Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen.
24) “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993) – Nora Ephron directed Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Later they’d try “You’ve Got Mail,” but not as successfully.
25) “The Bridges of Madison County” (1995) – Richard LaGravenese wrote the screenplay based on the Robert James Waller novel, and Clint Eastwood was Robert Kincaid, the roving photographer who catches the eye of Iowa farm wife Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep).
And last, but certainly not least, no list would be complete without the category: The Romantic Films of Richard Gere (at least those that worked). “Yanks” (1979); “American Gigolo” (1980); “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982); “Breathless” (1983); “No Mercy” (1986); “Pretty Woman” (1990); “First Knight” (1995). There’ve been a couple of others from Richard that I won’t mention, but “Unfaithful,” where Richard plays the cuckolded husband to Diane Lane’s unfaithful wife, was romantic…just not for Richard.
I would have mentioned “It Happened One Night” (1934) and “Casablanca” (1942), but I added 10 years to someone who is “over 50” (meaning born in 1959) and, while those films definitely belong on the list, you’d be definitely “over 50” and probably over 80, if you saw Clark (Gable) and Claudette (Colbert) when that Oscar-nominated film was new. For today’s movie-goers (of which I am one), let’s not forget the very recent Best Picture of the Year, “Slumdog Millionaire,” a love story for the ages.