Does Valentine’s Day have you starry-eyed for a good romantic story?

There are plenty of places to find recommendations.

You could start with the 100 movies the American Film Institute considers “America’s Greatest Love Stories.” (The full list is available via the AFI website at

The top 10 of the 100 movies that the American Film Institute considers “America’s Greatest Love Stories.”:

1. “Casablanca” (1942)

2. “Gone With the Wind” (1939)

3. “West Side Story” (1961)

4. “Roman Holiday” (1953)

5. “An Affair to Remember” (1957)

6. “The Way We Were” (1973)

7. “Doctor Zhivago” (1965)

8. “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

9. “Love Story”(1970)

10. “City Lights” (1931)


You don’t have to take the AFI’s word on what makes a good love story, of course.

Let’s look at what everyday — albeit movie-loving — people like.

The Internet Movie Database ( allows registered users to rate movies on a scale from 1 to 10.

Its “Top Rated ‘Romance’ Titles” are:

(Rank, rating, title)

1. 8.8, “Casablanca” (1942)

2. 8.6, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

3. 8.6,“Sunset Blvd.” (1950)

4. 8.6, “Fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, Le” (2001)

5. 8.5, “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

6. 8.5, “Vertigo” (1958)

7. 8.5, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

8. 8.5, “Modern Times” (1936)

9. 8.4, “City Lights” (1931)

10. 8.4, “Metropolis” (1927)


Even when most movie critics agree about a film, that doesn’t mean they’re right. Still, let’s look at what they think.

Rotten Tomatoes ( compiles critic reviews of films, counting the reviews as positive (“fresh”) or negative (“rotten”). Among movies in the “romance” genre, 27 are 100 percent fresh, meaning every review is a positive one. Only movies with 20 or more rated reviews were included.

(Rank, title, number of reviews)

1. “Sense and Sensibility,” 40

2. “North by Northwest,” 35

3. “Singin’ in the Rain,” 34

4. “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” 33

5. “The Philadelphia Story,” 32

6. “Goldfinger,” 30

7. “Red,” 30

8. “Before Sunrise,” 30

9. “Yana’s Friends,” 30

10. “Bull Durham,” 29

11. “A Fish Called Wanda,” 29

12. “Laura,” 28

13. “Roman Holiday,” 27

14. “Say Anything,” 26

15. “Wings of Desire,” 25

16. “Broadcast News,” 23

17. “His Girl Friday,” 23

18. “To Catch a Thief,” 23

19. “The Hustler,” 22

20. “Top Hat,” 22

21. “The African Queen,” 21

22. “Charade,” 21

23. “La Strada,” 21

24. “The Killer,” 21

25. “Passion Fish,” 20

26. “Sunrise,” 20

27. “Atlantic City,” 20

This list and the one before it bring up the question: What exactly is a “romance”?’s first definition is what the term often refers to when applied to entertainment: “A love affair.”

But this definition doesn’t really fit, for example, No. 6 on the Rotten Tomatoes list, “Goldfinger.”

There’s also this definition: “A long medieval narrative in prose or verse that tells of the adventures and heroic exploits of chivalric heroes: an Arthurian romance.”

Is James Bond chivalric?

How about “a long fictitious tale of heroes and extraordinary or mysterious events, usually set in a distant time or place.”

OK, so we just have to apply these “romantic” definitions loosely — in which case, most films could be considered “romantic.” You could celebrate the love of Valentine’s Day with Han and Leia, Peter Parker and Mary Jane, Aragorn and Arwen — even Pa and Ma Penguin from “March of the Penguins.”


Sick of hearing about “Casablanca”? Don’t want to pay for a movie rental?

The primetime TV lineup on Valentine’s Day includes “A Charlie Brown Valentine” on ABC, “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” on the History Channel and yet another James Bond marathon on AMC. There’s coverage of the Winter Olympics, of course, and a new edition of “American Idol.”

And then there’s that other option: not watching anything. Just enjoying being with the people you care about, taking the time to be thankful for who is in your life. The reason so many movies include romantic

subplots and love stories is that love — romantic, between friends, within a family, and otherwise — is something we all need and want. So enjoy it and appreciate that no movie compares to the real thing.

Melissa Cuppett is partial to “The Princess Bride” and thinks “The Shop Around the Corner” holds up well after all these years. Contact her at

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