Top romantic films and their iconic movie posters

Love is all you need

Romantic movies are some of the biggest grossing movies of all time and the movie posters that promote them are amongst the most expensive collectible posters to own. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love a good rom-com on a locked-down Friday night?!

When you think of romance it’s almost inevitable that keep coming top in almost every ‘All-time Romantic film’ list, is James Cameron’s 90’s classic Titanic. The film’s ‘I’m flying’ scene, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet at the front of the ill-fated ocean liner to the sound of Celine Dion sing ing My Heart Will Go On, is one of the most memorable scenes in film history.

Iconic moments are what makes a good film, great! Other movies and their memorable moments include Ghost starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze and its infamous pottery wheel scene. 1982’s An Officer & A Gentlemen featuring Richard Gere’ sweeping Debra Winger off her feet. Physically carrying her out of the factory she works in, to the delight her colleagues. And who can forget the scene where Jennifer Grey has the ‘time of her life’ being lifted into the air by Patrick Swayze! Swayze made sure he was going to be remembered forever!

Old movie posters still command the highest prices

Delving back further than the 80s and 90s, many of the older, classic movies still top many favorite movie lists. They offer us an enduring quality, that ensures they continue to grow in popularity. Sentimental scenes, memorable film scores and unforgettable quotes often become part of our popular culture.

Movie quotes such ‘Here’s looking at you kid’, and, ’Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine’ are reknowned the world over. The often misquoted ‘Play it once, Sam. For old times sake’ is an iconic movie moments The lyrics ‘You must remember this, A kiss is still a kiss, A sigh is just a sigh’ from the film’s main theme song As Time Goes By are not simply lyrics, they are an integral part of the movie. The song, performed by Dooley Wilson as Sam will forever be associated with the film Casablanca

The 1942 romantic drama, Casablanca was directed by Michael Curtis. It stars Humphrey Bogart, as Rick Blaine and the glamorous Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa Lund. It is considered to be the greatest love story blockbuster of all time. Original movie posters for this timeless classic are highly sought-after by collectors. A quick search on Google reveals that there are lots of different poster styles and formats for this film. Casablanca remains one of the world’s most cherished films, A fact that ensures most of the original posters are worth thousands of pounds. However, two posters for the film have exceeded all expectations and just a few years back became the two most expensive romantic film posters of all time.

Very rare movie posters that are worth a fortune

Both are Italian movie posters and were illustrated by the renowned poster artist Luigi Martinati. The first, features a stunning illustration of  Bogart and  Bergman. They are pictured above an Ottoman Empire Mosque, against a strong, red and blue background. Martinati’s superb illustration exudes all the drama, tension, and romance of one of the world’s greatest cinematic love stories. It is a fantastic and rare poster that is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful Casablanca posters ever created. A copy of this poster was sold in an online auction in 2016 for £148,810.

The second poster, a large 4-sheet poster, is the holy grail of Casablanca film posters. Only one copy is known to exist and it is the poster that is considered a masterpiece by collectors. It is particularly celebrated for the faithful rendering of several cast members. A copy of this, rarest of posters sold for a record-breaking £361,000 back in 2017.

Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, and the Gone with the Wind controversy

Gone with the Wind was immensely popular when first released. It quickly became the highest-earning film made up to that point, a record it held for over twenty-five years. In fact, allowing for inflation, it is still the highest-grossing film of all time! The 1939 romantic film was directed by Victor Fleming with the leading roles played by Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, and Hattie McDaniel

As with many classic films, it is not without controversyIt has come under criticism pretty much from the day it was released. Its negative, stereotypical depictions of race, and exaggerated romanticism of the slavery conditions African Americans underwent are genuinely abhorrent. Hattie McDaniel, won an Academy Award for her role as ‘Mammy’ becoming the first African American to win an Oscar. However, at the ceremony, the fact Hattie wasn’t allowed to sit at the table with the white cast members speaks volumes about the negative attitudes of the time.

In 2020, amid the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests, the film was removed from HBO Max. At the time, HBO commented that the film was “a product of its time” and as such, it depicted “ethnic and racial prejudices” that “were wrong then and are wrong today”. It also announced that when the film was reinstated it would be shown in its original form. Because “to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. If we are to create a more just, equitable, and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history.”

An opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us

Strangely, following the film’s removal, Gone with the Wind reached the top of Amazon’s TV and Films best sellers list. It also placed fifth on Apple’s Itunes film chart. When HBO Max reinstated the film to its service just a month later, it included an introduction by Jacqueline Stewart. She described the film as “a prime text for examining expressions of white supremacy in popular culture”. She added “it is precisely because of the ongoing, painful patterns of racial injustice and disregard for Black lives that “Gone with the Wind” should stay in circulation and remain available for viewing, analysis, and discussion.” She described the controversy as “an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us.”

Since Gone with the Wind’s initial release over, eighty years ago, this film has more romantic movie poster variations than most. Once again it tends to be the artwork for the European film posters that stand out head and shoulders above the American posters. One perfect example of this is the 1954 pre-war Belgian re-release poster, The movie poster features Rhett and Scarlett in a romantic embrace, with the words Autant en Emporte Le Vente written at the foot of the poster. In good condition, copies of this poster sell for more than £1500.

The classic Gone with the Wind movie poster

Then, there’s the iconic poster that even today people associate with the film. Howard Terpning created the poster for the 1967 film re-release. Sometimes called the Academy Award Winners poster it features the classic image of Gable carrying Leigh against a fiery red backdrop. A scene of mayhem as Atlanta burns appears at the foot of the poster. The French 1950 release poster created by the well-respected artist Roger Soubie, offers us a much less dramatic, more romantic image of Rhett and Scarlett against a green background.

The ongoing controversy will no doubt have the effect of increasing both the demand and price for the film’s promotional posters. The film is still regarded as one of the greatest movie love stories, and one of the best films of all time. It has consistently placed in the top ten of the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 American films and in 1989, the United States Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. A true love story never dies.

Everybody loves Audrey Hepburn

There are so many classic romantic stories that we love to love. However, right near the top has to be Blake Edwards’ much-loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Hepburn’s portrayal as the fabulous, socialite, Holly Golightly is without doubt her most famous and best-loved role. The iconic movie poster created to promote the film was produced by the poster and book jacket artist, Robert E Ginnis. It is one of the most sought-after film posters of the 1960s. Not as rare as the Casablanca posters but in excellent condition copies still fetch between £6000 and £10,000 at auction.

Like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Roman Holiday also stars Audrey Hepburn. This time she stars alongside Gregory Peck. Hepburn won an Academy Award for best actress for her role. The portrayal of a Princess who wants to temporarily escape her royal obligations as she sets out to enjoy Rome before she has to settle down and take on her regal position and serious obligations. By chance, she happens to meet American journalist Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck), who knows who she is, but pretends that he doesn’t, in the hope of obtaining an exclusive interview. Inevitably, the two fall in love with each other. The artist Roger Soubie illustrated for the Italian release of the film and the poster certainly captures some of the fun and delight of this classic romantic comedy.

We simply can’t get enough of films about love. However, we think the designs for the classic movie posters knock spots off most of the modern ones!

Our first lock-down Valentine’s Day is approaching. If you can, take the time to sit down with your loved one and watch one of these classic movies.