I suppose I’m unusual among many men in that I enjoy watching romantic films with my wife. But I also love “man movies”—thrillers, adventures, mysteries, war stories. I like action and explosions and intrigue and excitement.
Here are some films that fall somewhere in the middle between chick flicks and man movies. In these movies you will find a strong theme of romance to please wives, and enough other elements to attract husbands. Hopefully you’ll find some selections here to view as a couple.
I’ve focused mostly on older films for two reasons: First, I’ve found that many people don’t watch movies made before 1980 or so, and as a result are missing out on most of the best films ever made. Second, older films (especially those made before 1960) are cleaner—they aren’t nearly as polluted by the sex, language, and violence so common in today’s movies.
The African Queen: Katherine Hepburn is a missionary thrown together with Humphrey Bogart, a rough riverboat captain, in a World War I adventure. This 1951 film will soon be released on DVD for the first time.
Casablanca: A story about refugees stuck in Morocco during World War II, and the nightclub, Rick’s, where everyone goes, and two lovers who meet again. An absolute classic with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergmann.
Charade: One of my favorite mysteries, with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn trying to discover why her husband was killed.
It’s a Wonderful Life: You might be surprised to find this on a list of romantic films, but one of the major themes of the film is the love story between Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It’s so poignant, and so creative, that many people list this as their favorite romantic film ever.
The Man From Snowy River: A “coming of age” story about a young man, Jim, who loses his father and must earn his way back to his life in the high country of Australia. Kirk Douglass plays two roles—the rich rancher whose daughter falls for Jim, and the twin brother who has spent his life looking for gold.
The Princess Bride: It’s an adventure, a romance, and a satiric look at fairy tales. Features a great cast with, among others, Mandy Patinkin, Cary Elwes, Wallace Shawn, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, and Andre the Giant!
Roman Holiday: In one of her first films, Audrey Hepburn is a princess who hates her life and escapes for one wonderful day in Rome with Gregory Peck, a reporter who recognizes her but doesn’t let her know.
Teacher’s Pet: Many people haven’t heard of this 1958 romantic comedy. Clark Gable, in one of his final roles, plays a hard-nosed newspaper editor who hates journalism schools—and then he meets a journalism professor played by Doris Day. Gable poses as a student, and the drama begins.
What’s Up, Doc? One of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. This 1972 tribute to screwball comedies features a plot so screwball that I can’t even summarize it. Stars Ryan O’Neal and Barbra Streisand.
Two bonus films:
If your husband doesn’t hate musicals, here are two classics:
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers: It begins when the oldest of seven brothers in the Oregon Territory rides into town determined to bring back a wife. This inspires his brothers to do the same. The barn-raising sequence is one of the best manly dance scenes you’ll ever see.
Singin’ in the Rain: Many critics consider this the best musical ever made. It’s set in the Hollywood of the late 1920s, when silent films gave way to “talkies.” Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, and Jean Hagen, this movie is funny, creative, and romantic. It’s one of my favorite films of all time, and it contains my favorite sequence of all time: the “Singin’ in the Rain” number with Gene Kelly.
I hope you enjoy these, and I’d be interested to hear what movies you would add to the list. What are some romantic movies you’ve enjoyed as a couple—movies that men won’t hate?
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