Classic Hollywood had a thing for romance: Most films from that era involve some kind of love story that's central to the plot. Heck, even Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense,\" used a fair amount smoochin' in his movies. But after a long cinematic dry spell, it's safe to say the resurgence of rom-coms upon us, thanks to hits like To All the Boys I've Loved Before and Crazy Rich Asians. With so much love on the brain, we decided to investigate which classic, must-watch films hold up as the most quintessentially romantic of them all.
Considered one of the first and still greatest romantic comedies of all time, this Frank Capra joint stars Claudette Colbert as a feisty young heiress set to marry a man her father disapproves of and Clark Gable as the guy hired to help her get home. Guess whether they end up together The chemistry between Colbert and Gable sizzles.
Cary Grant (who will appear many times on this list) and Katharine Hepburn (likewise) star in this truly batshit screwball comedy about a paleontologist and the woman who's into him. There are dinosaur bones, museum capers, and even a real-life leopard. Strap in.
Barbara Stanwyck plays Jean Harrington, a con artist known to prey on super-wealthy guys like Charles Pike (played by Henry Ford). Jean thinks she has this one in the bag as she finds Charles falling under her spell, but soon this quick job gets complicated when he dumps her, assuming she's only after his money. Classic! The only possible solution Re-introducing herself to Charles, but this time as high-society woman Lady Eve Sidwich.
The premise of this particular Hollywood classic is pretty problematic (a band of rowdy brothers in the woods literally kidnap a group of women to make them their wives), but if you can look past the film's low-key Stockholm syndrome vibe, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers will be a good time. The bubbly soundtrack and fabulous choreography helps...kinda.
A single working mother of six in Harlem, Claudine has no time for romance, but a chance encounter with neighborhood garbage collector, Roop, makes her eager to experience love again. Starring Diahann Carroll and James \"The Voice\" Earl Jones, Claudine tells the story of how love can grow even in the hardest of times.
Spike Lee and cinematographer Ernest Dickerson transform an actual block of Bedford-Stuyvesant into an outer-borough version of Gauguin's Tahiti: Every block, bodega and trash-talking B-boy suddenly becomes part of a colorful, expressionistic landscape that somehow feels hyperreal. Made as a direct response to the Howard Beach incident, Spike's story about New York's racial melting pot coming to a boil encompasses Brooklyn in full: the mix of ethnicity and class, stoop culture and gentrification, pride and anger. All this, and Rosie Perez dancing to Public Enemy's \"Fight the Power.\" How many movies can claim that fact, Jack
A brutal NYC classic (one its star, Charles Bronson, had an uneasy time defending), this vigilante thriller crystallized the dangerous Beame-era Manhattan in the minds of millions. The pivotal scene goes down on a grungy subway car, where a furious Upper West Sider takes nickel-plated, .32-caliber vengeance on a pair of hapless muggers. Life would imitate art.
Her eldest sibling, Katie, died in infancy. Her other siblings were Mildred Katherine West, later known as Beverly, and John Edwin West II (sometimes inaccurately called \"John Edwin West, Jr.\"). During her childhood, West's family moved to various parts of Woodhaven, as well as the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods of Brooklyn. In Woodhaven, at Neir's Social Hall (which opened in 1829 and is still extant), West supposedly first performed professionally.
She was encouraged as a performer by her mother, who, according to West, always thought that anything Mae did was fantastic. Other family members were less encouraging, including an aunt and her paternal grandmother. They are all reported as having disapproved of her career and her choices. In 1918, after exiting several high-profile revues, West finally got her break in the Shubert Brothers revue Sometime, opposite Ed Wynn. Her character Mayme danced the shimmy and her photograph appeared on an edition of the sheet music for the popular number \"Ev'rybody Shimmies Now\".
Eventually, West began writing her own risqué plays using the pen name Jane Mast. Her first starring role on Broadway was in a 1926 play entitled Sex, which she wrote, produced, and directed. Although conservative critics panned the show, ticket sales were strong. The production did not go over well with city officials, who had received complaints from some religious groups, and the theater was raided, with West arrested along with the cast. She was taken to the Jefferson Market Court House, (now Jefferson Market Library), where she was prosecuted on morals charges, and on April 19, 1927, was sentenced to 10 days for \"corrupting the morals of youth\". Though West could have paid a fine and been let off, she chose the jail sentence for the publicity it would garner. While incarcerated on Welfare Island (now known as Roosevelt Island), she dined with the warden and his wife; she told reporters that she had worn her silk panties while serving time, in lieu of the \"burlap\" the other girls had to wear. West got great mileage from this jail stint. She served eight days with two days off for \"good behavior\". Media attention surrounding the incident enhanced her career, by crowning her the darling \"bad girl\" who \"had climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong\".
Between the late 1920s and early 1930s, West continued to write plays, including The Wicked Age, Pleasure Man, and The Constant Sinner. Her productions predictably aroused controversy, which ensured that she stayed in the news and often resulted in packed houses at her performances. Her 1928 play Diamond Lil, a story about a racy, easygoing, and ultimately very smart lady of the 1890s, became a Broadway hit and cemented West's image in the public's eye. This show had an enduring popularity and West successfully revived it many times throughout the course of her career.
Three years after the initial success of Diamond Lil, West portrayed another sexually charged character, Babe Gordon, in The Constant Sinner, which opened on Broadway at the Royale Theatre on September 14, 1931. The influential drama critic for The New York Times, J. Brooks Atkinson, was among many reviewers at the time who bashed the play's storyline as well as West's performance. Atkinson's \"scathing\" assessment of her three-act production was published in The Times the day after the dramedy's premiere:
Other prominent reviewers in 1931, like Atkinson, roundly criticized the stage production, calling it a \"clumsy drama\", \"deliberately outlandish\", and labeling West herself as an \"atrocious playwright\". Ultimately, the elaborate play closed on Broadway after just eight weeks and 64 performances. When compared to Diamond Lil, which had run for nine months with 323 performances, The Constant Sinner was critically, financially, and personally a disappointment for West. Nevertheless, its notoriety and even its negative reviews further enhanced her public image as a daring, sensational performer and brought her additional widespread media attention. During that time, in the months after the play closed, West decided to put her stage career on hold and to accept a short-term but lucrative contract offer from Paramount Pictures to perform in a feature film in Hollywood.
In June 1932, after signing a two-month contract with Paramount that provided her a weekly salary of $5,000 ($99,300 today), West left New York by train for California. The veteran stage performer was by then nearly 40 years old, an unusually late age to begin a film career, especially for women, although Paramount certainly never had the slightest intention of casting her as an ingénue. She nonetheless managed to keep her age ambiguous for some time. She made her film debut in the role of Maudie Triplett in Night After Night (1932) starring George Raft, who had suggested West for the part. At first she did not like her small supporting role in the drama, but was appeased when she was allowed to rewrite portions of her character's dialogue. One of several revisions she made is in her first scene in Night After Night, when a hat-check girl exclaims, \"Goodness, what beautiful diamonds\", and West replies, \"Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.\" Reflecting on the overall result of her rewritten scenes, Raft is reported to have said, \"She stole everything but the cameras.\"
By 1933, West was one of the largest box-office draws in the United States and, by 1935, she was also the highest paid woman and the second-highest paid person in the United States (after William Randolph Hearst). Hearst invited West to Hearst Castle, his massive estate in San Simeon, California, where Hollywood celebrities and prominent political and business figures frequently gathered to socialize. \"I could'a married him,\" West later commented, \"but I got no time for parties. I don't like those big crowds.\" On July 1, 1934, the censorship guidelines of the film industry's Production Code began to be meticulously enforced. As a result, West's scripts were subjected to more editing. She, in turn, would often intentionally place extremely risqué lines in her scripts, knowing they would be cut by the censors. She hoped they would then not object as much to her other less suggestive lines. Her next film was Belle of the Nineties (1934). The original title, It Ain't No Sin, was changed because of censors' objections. Despite Paramount's early objections regarding costs, West insisted the studio hire Duke Ellington and his orchestra to accompany her in the film's musical numbers. Their collaboration was a success; the classic \"My