Classic Love

by Alan Rapp on February 14, 2011

in Theme Week, Top Tens & Lists

Hollywood has been making romantic movies for decades (and believe it or not there was a time when they were actually good!). If you’re looking for something more than simply latest braindead romcom here are few Hollywood classic love stories worth spending some time with this Valentine’s Day.

Bringing Up Baby

Carey Grant stars as a mild-mannered paleontologist with a fiancée whose life is turned completely upside down when he meets Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn). What follows is a series of madcap adventures involving a missing dinosaur bone, a leopard, and a stint in prison that bring the pair together. The screwball comedy has rarely, if ever, been done this well. In 1938 Bringing Up Baby was a box office flop, but over time it has come to be appreciated not only by critics but movie fans all over the world.


A masterpiece. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star as lost lovers who reconnect years later in Africa during WWII. Bogart turned himself into a star as the cynical expatriate night club owner when the love of his life (Bergman) walks back through the door with a husband (Paul Henreid) and a pressing need for letters of transit only Bogart’s character can provide. Beautifully shot, Casablanca endures years after its release and many not only regard it as the best love story ever told but the best film ever made.

To Have And Have Not

Bogart stars as a fishing boat captain hired to smuggle members of the French Resistance onto the island of Martinique where he meets and falls for a tough American dame (Lauren Bacall) staying at the hotel. Bacall and Borgat’s verbal fencing is terrific. Director Howard Hawkes and Ernest Hemingway adapt what both considered Hemingway’s worst novel, making several changes to characters, plot, and the location of the story. The film is also memorable for uniting Bogart and Bacall on-screen for the first time.


Jimmy Stewart stars as a San Fransisco private detective with an acute fear of heights who is hired to trail an old friend’s suicidal wife (Kim Novak) with whom he becomes obsessed. After witnessing Madeline’s apparent death he becomes infatuated with a woman (also Novak) who reminds him of her. Secrets and revelations shine new light on both women and Stewart’s character makes one more doomed trip to the top of the tower before the curtain falls on this Hitchcock classic.

West Side Story

I like William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet best as a musical set in New York City. Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer are star-crossed lovers Maria and Tony caught up in a gang war between the Jets and the Sharks. Filled with great musical numbers, and strong performances West Side Story remains the best modern take on Shakespeare’s tragic love story. And, let’s not forget, Rita Moreno gives all the reasons we need for wanting to live in America.

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