They're the films that make hearts race and eyes mist -- the most romantic movies of all time. And whether they're boy-meets-girl, boy-meets-boy or ogre-meets-princess, they all have one essential ingredient in common: love.
And surely no Hollywood love story is more iconic than "Gone With the Wind." Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh (an English actress then little-known in America) portrayed novelist Margaret Mitchell's star-crossed Civil War-era lovers. The film won 10 Oscars, a record that stood for 20 years.
"Here's looking at you, kid": That line of dialogue from what started out as a routine romantic melodrama set at a Moroccan nightclub during World War II became one of the most iconic phrases in filmdom. The chemistry between Humphrey Bogart as a cynical American expatriate and a radiant Ingrid Bergman as his lost-and-found-and-lost-again love helped make the film immortal.
Memorable indeed was the unfulfilled romance of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr as soul mates who meet aboard an ocean liner and fall in love -- despite the fact that each of them is engaged to someone else. The film's classic status is undiminished by the fact that it is actually a remake of "Love Affair" (1939), in which the lovers were played by Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne.
Decades before Carrie Bradshaw celebrated "Sex and the City," there was Holly Golightly, a brittle New York party girl whose exuberance and oversize cigarette holder disguise her inner fragility. George Peppard plays the sensitive writer who falls for her in the film adaptation of Truman Capote's novella.
MGM via Everett Collection
What could be more romantic than a doomed romance played out against the epic backdrop of the Russian Revolution? Nothing, except perhaps its signature "Lara's Theme." Some critics panned it when it was released, but now it is widely regarded as a classic. Omar Sharif plays the title character; Julie Christie portrays Lara.
On the eve of World War II, a former nun wins the love of the bitter Austrian widower whose children she tends. It sounds unlikely, but it's based on the real-life story of Maria von Trapp and the Trapp Family Singers. Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews led the cast of the film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical.
"They're young... they're in love... and they kill people." That was the tagline of this very offbeat romance, which shocked audiences of the time with violence more graphic than had previously been seen in a mainstream American film. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty played the title characters, real-life bank robbers who killed at least nine police officers during their Depression-era crime spree.
"Love means never having to say you're sorry" -- at least not when it's between preppie Ryan O'Neal and working-class Ali MacGraw in the smash-hit film version of Erich Segal's best-seller. Alas, her fatal illness brought the romance to an end -- even though it conveniently left her beauty intact right up to the end.
Opposites attract in Hollywood romances: Just ask Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand, in the respective roles of a preppie writer and a fiery left-wing spitfire. Is their love strong enough to transcend their political differences? Streisand also sang the theme song, which became her first No. 1 hit in the U.S.
Ah, the 1950s; seen from the safe vantage of 1978, they seemed like a lot more fun. At least they were for greaser John Travolta and Australian exchange student Olivia Newton-John in the smash film version of a hit Broadway musical. It surpassed "The Sound of Music" to become the highest-grossing movie musical of its day.
Sheltered 17-year-old "Baby" Houseman is resigned to a boring summer of '63 with her parents at a Catskills resort -- until a handsome dance instructor rocks her world. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey had the time of their lives in the low-budget sleeper, which went on to gross more than $200 million worldwide.
20th Century Fox
Boy meets girl. Boy is lost at sea. Girl reluctantly agrees to marry evil prince, but is kidnapped by outlaws. It's complicated, but of course it all works out in the end, because this is a fairy tale, albeit a slyly satirical one. Cary Elwes and Robin Wright Penn played the lovers in the adaptation of William Goldman's book.
20th Century Fox
John Cusack is an underachieving student, but he'll say anything to win the heart of classy valedictorian Ione Skye before she heads off to England -- and do anything, include serenade her with a boombox. Entertainment Weekly called the film the greatest modern movie romance.
Can't men and women just be friends? Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan struggle with the question over the 12-year course of an on-again, off-again romance. Harry is based on the romantic comedy's director, Rob Reiner; Sally on its writer, Nora Ephron. And we'll have what she's having.
Love transcends death itself in this romantic fantasy, in which the ghost of a murdered young banker (Patrick Swayze) tries to communicate with the still-living love of his life (Demi Moore). Whoopi Goldberg won an Oscar as a phony medium who turns out to be not as phony as she thought.
A romance where the lovers never even meet until the end? It's unusual, but it happens in this comedy. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are the couple separated by thousands of miles but brought together by his son's call to a radio show. The film was inspired by "An Affair to Remember," which Hanks' character refers to as "a chick flick."
Love, it's beautiful -- even when it blossoms between a call girl and a comic book nerd who kills her pimp and absconds with a suitcase full of cocaine. It's romance Quentin Tarantino-style; he wrote the screenplay. Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater play the none-too-heroic lovers.
20th Century Fox
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet played the young lovers who had everything going for them -- except they picked the wrong boat for their romantic cruise. The film became the highest-grossing of all time and held the record for 12 years until surpaseed by "Avatar" from the same director, James Cameron.
Meg Ryan owns a small children's bookstore, but is coming under competition from Tom Hanks' discount megastore. The two become archrivals without knowing that the romance they are conducting anonymously online is with each other. Its title comes from the phrase that announced the arrival of e-mail on AOL, but the film is actually a remake of the 1940 comedy "The Shop Around the Corner."
New Line Cinema
Pity poor Adam Sandler: a wannabe 1980s rock star relegated to entertaining at weddings instead, he's always serenading happy couples even though his own longtime girlfriend left him standing at the altar. But all that changes when waitress Drew Barrymore comes into his life. Featuring a soundtrack of '80s hits, the film grossed $123 million and confirmed Sandler as a box-office draw.
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
Here's how the single stockbroker played by Angela Bassett did it: She headed to Montego Bay and entered a hot romance with a gorgeous Jamaican 20 years her junior, played by Taye Diggs. Bassett won an NAACP Image Award for her performance.
American Renee Zellweger won the role of lovelorn Brit Bridget Jones over such competition as Helena Bonham Carter and Emily Watson. She gained 25 pounds for the role, but it paid off: She got a Best Actress Oscar nomination and went on to star in the 2004 sequel "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason."
Even ornery ogres need love: Just ask Shrek. When he first comes reluctantly to Princess Fiona's rescue, she's unhappy that he's big and green and ugly, instead of a handsome prince. But that's before it's revealed that Fiona is an ogress herself by night. Soon she's an ogress full-time and happily together with Shrek, proving the old adage that beauty is only skin-deep -- and earning hundreds of millions at the box office.
Elisha Cuthbert, January Jones, Chris Marshall and Ivana Milicevic are just a few of the cast of this ensemble comedy, which follows no fewer than 10 different romantic storylines that unfold over one Christmas season. The cast also includes Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley and Bill Nighy, who won a BAFTA award for his performance.
Ever wish you could erase the painful memory of a lost romance? Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey turn to science to do that -- literally -- in this offbeat romance-cum-sci-fi-fantasy, only to learn they were right for each other all along. Charlie Kaufman's ingenious original screenplay won an Academy Award.
New Line Cinema
An epic love story centered around an older man who reads aloud to an invalid woman whom he regularly visits from a faded notebook. He tells the story of wealthy girl who falls for a boy who works at a lumbermill. The couple are separated by World War II, then passionately reunited seven years later, only to find that their lives have taken different paths. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams star in the film, based on the beloved best-seller by Nicholas Sparks.
This classic romance, based on Jane Austin’s classic novel, features the opinionated Elizabeth, played by Keira Knightley, who meets and immediately dislikes the arrogant and wealthy Mr. Darcy, played by the brooding Matthew Macfadyen. But despite his best efforts to forget her, Darcy becomes infatuated with Elizabeth, and she with him, proving that social obstacles are no match for true love.
Released to critical acclaim, this Western was one of the first major motion pictures to feature a love affair between two men. Heath Ledger plays a ranch hand who meets and falls in forbidden love with Jake Gyllenhaal, a rodeo cowboy, in 1963 Wyoming. Nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, the film won awards and honors at film festivals around the world.
This vampire romance captured the hearts of teens -- and adults -- around the world. Bella Swan, played by Kristen Stewart, meets and quickly falls in love with Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson, after moving to live with her father in Forks, Wash. The only catch is that he is a vampire, and must struggle to resist her scent. Pattinson and Stewart seem to have been unable to resist each in real life as well, with rumors flying that the pair are a couple off-screen.
The romantic chemistry between the two lovers in this Best Picture Oscar winner wasn’t an act: Freida Pinto and Dev Patel, who play orphans navigating their way through Mumbai’s slums, took their romance off-screen after meeting on the set. The movie went on to win eight Oscars, more than any other that year.