By Raquel Stecher, classic film blogger
Sometimes, you just need a good cry. Maybe it’s an ugly cry that leaves you a sobbing mess and requires an entire box of tissues.
I love a good weeper and there are plenty of good ones from the 1930s and 1940s. Here are five classic movies that will break your heart and have you weeping into your hankie.
Two strangers meet on a railway platform. A doctor and a housewife. The two fall inexplicably in love. The problem is they’re both married to other people. What ensues is an illicit and passionate love affair that is doomed from the start.
Set in England on the brink of World War II, Brief Encounter stars Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. Based on the Noël Coward play and directed by David Lean, this is an incredible film that will both enchant you and break your heart into a million pieces.
Not only is Casablanca considered one of the best movies of all time, it’s also one of the most romantic. Directed by Michael Curtiz, the film stars Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, an expat living in Morocco during World War II and proprietor of Rick’s Café Américain.
Unexpectedly, his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) comes back into his life. Rick helps Ilsa and her husband Victor (Paul Henreid) escape from the Nazis, but not before he feels the pain of his rekindled feelings for his former flame.
Bogart so expertly shows the pain of lost love through his expressive eyes. Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa is hauntingly beautiful that we begin to understand Rick’s pain. This film is iconic in so many ways and truly one of the most poignant love stories ever told.
How can a movie break your heart and fill you with hope at the same time? I don’t know how, but Now, Voyager does just that.
Directed by Irving Rapper, this film stars Bette Davis as Charlotte Vale, a rich plain jane spinster who’s been under the repressive control of her mother (Gladys Cooper). With the help of a psychiatrist (Claude Rains), she transforms into a confident, beautiful, and self-assured young woman of the world. On a cruise, she meets Jeremiah (Paul Henreid), a sensitive man living in a toxic marriage.
The two fall in love and although their relationship can never be, the feelings they have for each other breathe new life into their souls. The final scene when Henreid lights two cigarettes and gives one to Davis and she utters that famous line about the moon and the stars is one of the iconic (and romantic) in film history.
If only they had more time! Directed by Edmund Goulding, Bette Davis stars as rich socialite Judith, who suffers from headaches and eventually learns she has a brain tumor. She meets and falls in love with Dr. Steele (George Brent), who helps her case.
After a rocky start, they marry but the happiness is short-lived when Judith discovers that the tumor has returned and she doesn’t have long to live. If this film doesn’t pull on your heart strings, I don’t know what will. It’s a powerful melodrama that plays with the audiences' emotions.
Screen stars Brent and Davis were frequent co-stars and made 11 movies together. Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Reagan have supporting roles in the film.
What if you forgot about the one you loved? Amnesia can be difficult on relationships, especially in the movies. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, Random Harvest stars Ronald Colman as Smithy, a WWI veteran who lost his memory. He wanders away from his asylum and is taken in by Paula (Greer Garson).
The two fall in love and marry... only to have Smithy regain his previous memory and his real name, Charles, but forget everything that has transpired between the two of them. The couple is separated and we hold out hope that Charles will remember his life as Smithy and fall in love with Paula once again.
Colman and Garson deliver first-rate performances. The cast also includes Susan Peters (my personal favorite), Henry Travers and Reginald Owen. If you enjoyed The Notebook (2004), Random Harvest is one you’ll want to check out.
Raquel Stecher has been writing about classic films for the past decade on her blog Out of the Past. She attends the TCM Classic Film Festival as well as other events where old movie fanatics get together to geek out. Raquel has been a devoted DVD Netflix member since 2002! Follow her on her blog Out of the Past, or find her on Twitter @Quellelove and @ClassicFilmRead, Facebook, and Instagram.