The Classic Movies List: A Rec for Every Romance Trope

Here’s the work-in-progress list— The Google doc is always open for more!

Kelly’s Must-See List

Because it’s All About Me. Watch these and report back.


 It Happened One Night The Shop Around the Corner How to Marry a Millionaire


 Drama_TheClock  Drama_BestYearsOfOurLives Drama_RandomHarvest

Note: I would have included Casablanca, but that’s just a given on any list.


Suspense_Notorious  Suspense_Rebecca Suspense_Gaslight

  • Notorious — I’ll just be over here curled up in a ball yelling things at the television.
  • Rebecca — Perfect casting of a perfect adaptation of a perfect novel.
  • Gaslight — Your skin will crawl until the beta hero saves the day.

Note: All the best suspense movies have one-word titles.


Friends to Lovers

  • Holiday
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Gigi
  • Born Yesterday
  • It Should Happen To You

Enemies to Lovers

  • QuietManThe Quiet Man
  • The Philadelphia Story
  • The Shop Around the Corner
  • Bringing Up Baby
  • His Girl Friday
  • Desk Set
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • Notorious
  • Ninotchka/Silk Stockings
  • The Band Wagon
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Whirlwind Romance

  • The Clock
  • On the Town
  • Anchors Aweigh
  • Bringing Up Baby



  • To Have and Have Not
  • The Clock
  • On the Town
  • Anchors Aweigh
  • I Was a Male War Bride
  • The Best Years of Our Lives
  • Since You Went Away
  • Casablanca
  • The More the Merrier
  • Tender Comrade
  • A Foreign Affair

Reforming the Rake

  • Love in the Afternoon

Obsessive Love

  • Laura
  • Double Indemnity
  • Leave Her to Heaven
  • Dragonwyck

Unrequited/One-Sided Love

  • Little Women
  • It Should Happen to You
  • The Apartment
  • Easter Parade
  • How to Marry a Millionaire
  • Footlight Parade


Some of these aren’t HEA, but all are must-see!


  • I’ll Be Seeing You — streaming on YouTube!
  • The Clock
  • Brief Encounter
  • Kitty Foyle
  • Random Harvest
  • Love Affair/An Affair to Remember
  • Enchanted Cottage
  • A Place in the Sun
  • Splendour in the Grass
  • Butterfield 8
  • Waterloo Bridge
  • Casablanca
  • Dark Victory
  • Now, Voyager
  • The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Marriage In Trouble

  • Barefoot In the Park
  • The Bishop’s Wife
  • Adam’s Rib
  • State of the Union
  • Barkleys of Broadway
  • The Palm Beach Story
  • Wife Vs. Secretary


  • Random Harvest
  • Spellbound

Secret Babies

  • Bachelor Mother/Bundle of Joy
  • It Started In Naples

Love Triangle

  • Holiday AffairHoliday Affair
  • Sabrina
  • Casablanca
  • Holiday
  • My Favorite Wife
  • Rachel and the Stranger
  • A Foreign Affair
  • The Vikings

Sibling’s best friend/Best friend’s sibling

or sibling/best friend’s love interest

  • Holiday

Road Trip

  • It Happened One Night
  • The African Queen
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Sullivan’s Travels

Age Gap

  • SabrinaSabrina
  • Love in the Afternoon
  • That Touch of Mink
  • Gigi
  • Daddy Long Legs
  • All That Heaven Allows*
  • Sweet Bird of Youth
  • It Started In Naples
  • The World of Suzy Wong
  • Funny Face

Second Chance

  • Philadelphia Story
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • Dishonored Lady
  • His Girl Friday
  • The Awful Truth


  • Love in the Afternoon
  • That Touch of Mink

Marriage of Convenience/Arranged Marriage/Forced Marriage

  • Love With the Proper Stranger
  • Crossing Delancey
  • Mrs. Skeffington
  • Come Live With Me

Lost Souls/Lonely Hearts

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • Rocky
  • Marty

Big Misunderstanding

  • BellBookAndCandleBell Book and Candle (not a misunderstanding as much as magical intervention)
  • Christmas in Connecticut
  • The Shop Around the Corner
  • Love Affair/An Affair to Remember
  • Bachelor Mother/Bundle of Joy
  • How to Steal a Million
  • My Man Godfrey
  • My Favorite Wife
  • Without Reservations
  • Some Like It Hot
  • I Married a Witch
  • Indiscreet

Romantic Suspense

  • Notorious
  • To Catch a Thief
  • Gaslight
  • Key Largo
  • Charade
  • The 39 Steps

Opposites Attract/Unlikely Lovers

  • DesigningWomanDesigning Woman
  • Vivacious Lady
  • Platinum Blonde
  • Pygmalion
  • Woman of the Year
  • Tammy and the Bachelor
  • Guys and Dolls
  • African Queen
  • Royal Wedding
  • It Started In Naples
  • Bringing Up Baby
  • The Pirate
  • Ninotchka
  • The Sound of Music
  • Grease
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  • The Lady Eve
  • My Man Godfrey

Class Differences/Family Objections

  • SwanThe Swan
  • You Can’t Take It With You
  • My Man Godfrey
  • West Side Story
  • Pygmalion
  • Duel in the Sun
  • A Place in the Sun
  • All That Heaven Allows
  • Made for Each Other


  • The Swan
  • Born Yesterday
  • Pat and Mike
  • Pygmalion

Witty Banter

  • ThinManThe Thin Man
  • His Girl Friday
  • It Happened One Night
  • I Was a Male War Bride
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • To Catch a Thief
  • Adam’s Rib
  • The Awful Truth
  • Arsenic and Old Lace


  • Pride of the Yankees

Straight-Up Rom-Coms

  • BallOfFireBall of Fire
  • The Lady Eve
  • How to Marry a Millionaire
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • Pillow Talk
  • Some Like It Hot
  • The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
  • It Happened One Night
  • More Than a Secretary
  • Singin’ in the Rain

Not genre romance but totally romantic

  • The Best Years of Our Lives
  • The Apartment
  • Destry Rides Again
  • From Here to Eternity
  • A Place in the Sun
  • Marty
  • West Side Story
  • Rebecca
  • Penny Serenade
  • All This and Heaven Too

Look like romance but totally aren’t  – The Anti-Romance

  • Doctor Zhivago
  • Love Story
  • The Way We Were
  • Atonement
  • Gone With the Wind

Kickass Women

  • Barbara Stanwyck
  • Katharine Hepburn
  • Maureen O’Hara
  • Rosalind Russell
  • Lauren Bacall
  • Myrna Loy
  • Irene Dunne
  • Ginger Rogers
  • Claudette Colbert

Beta Heroes

  • Jimmy Stewart
  • Gary Cooper
  • Jack Lemmon
  • Joseph Cotten
  • Gregory Peck

Alpha Heroes

  • John Wayne
  • Robert Mitchum

Suave and Sexy

  • Cary Grant
  • William Powell
  • Leslie Howard
  • Clark Gable

Best Kisses

  • The Best Years of Our Lives
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • The Quiet Man
  • The Shop Around the Corner

Year in Review: The Page O’ Lists

Have I mentioned that I ♥ bullet lists? And…ellipses. Also — em-dashes.

Favorite historicals….

Virtuous Scoundrel by Maggie Fenton

Favorite contemporaries….

Favorite inspies….

Author Binges….

Panda rolling in snow

Me reading Carla Kelly

  • Carla Kelly
  • Molly O’Keefe
  • Julie James
  • Meredith Duran
  • Laura Kaye
  • Donna Thorland
  • Edith Layton
  • Sarah Mayberry
  • Susanna Fraser
  • Laura Frantz
  • Erin Knightley
  • Sarina Bowen
  • Amanda Quick

New Adult….

Did someone say FANGIRL?

Did someone say FANGIRL?

Yes, really. I actually read — and liked — some New Adult.

Favorite audiobooks….


Me listening to Susanna Kearsley

  • All the Susanna Kearsley — I’m on my second go-round. The Firebird is the current fave.
  • A boatload of comfort reads — Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Cecilia Grant, Loretta Chase. And holy cow, I almost forgot how much I love Rupert and Daphne in Mr. Impossible.
  • A bunch of Amanda Quick — With This Ring, I Thee Wed, The Paid Companion, Otherwise Engaged
  • Virtuous Scoundrel by Maggie Fenton — Did I mention that you should READ THIS BOOK?
  • The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory – A bit more repetitive than I remember from traditional reads (and re-reads), but still my favorite Gregory.
  • The Proposition by Judith Ivory — First listen from library, then I had to buy it so I can keep it on my phone at all times.
  • Ransom by Julie Garwood — Everything I was hoping for that I didn’t get with The Prize.
  • Heartless and Silent Melody by Mary Balogh
  • The Siege Winter by Ariana Franklin and Samantha Norman — This helped me get over my blah about Hild (see below).
  • The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati — Someone else needs to read this because I neeeeeed to discuss the ending.

Catching up….

Black Ice by Anne StuartStuff everyone else has read that I just got around to and why in the hell didn’t I read these earlier.


Still with the Book Anxiety….

The Big Fat Books….

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens — This is still a work in progress. A very…slow…work in progress.

The TBR Challenges….

The Heyer Project….

I documented Part II of the quest, in which I color-coded a spreadsheet of Heyer’s character archetypes and plot tropes.

I’ve listened to Bath Tangle and Black Sheep and Venetia three times to erase Cousin Kate from my brain.

Deconstructing For Such a Time, Parts 1-17

I'm not coming down until someone apologiesI know I went overboard on my continued ranting about this book and probably pissed off a lot of people, but I desperately needed to think through the depictions of my faith on the page.

I learned a lot, and what I learned will forever change the way I read inspirationals and historical fiction.

More Sappy Holiday Goodness: No Christmas Like the Present by Sierra Donovan

  • No Christmas Like the Present by Sierra DonovanTitle: No Christmas Like the Present
  • Author: Sierra Donovan
  • Published: Zebra, October 2014
  • Source: Library (and then purchased)
  • Length: 257 pages
  • Tropes: Mysterious Man of Mystery, Lady Scrooge
  • Quick blurb: A glorious mash-up of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. No, really.
  • Grade: A

I don’t use gifs (except for Tessa Dare books), but this one calls for a gif.

Belle gif

This is only $1.99 and everyone should read it immediately. The premise could have been horribly wrong, but it’s everything right. So of course I had to live-tweet it.


Accessible (screen-reader friendly) version

TBR Challenge: A Pirate for Christmas by Anna Campbell

  • A Pirate for Christmas by Anna CampbellTitle: A Pirate for Christmas
  • Author: Anna Campbell
  • Published: Self-published, October 2015
  • Source: Purchased
  • Length: 150 pages
  • Tropes: Mysterious Man of Mystery, Virtuous Village Vixen, Madcap Meddling, Snowbound
  • Quick blurb: A pirate and a vicar’s daughter and a recalcitrant donkey.
  • Grade: A-

I cheated. Again. This wasn’t in the TBR, but it’s so ridiculously charming I couldn’t not share the squee.

A Pirate for Christmas by Anna Campbell

Accessible (screen-reader friendly) version

I read Campbell’s Her Christmas Earl last year and loved that one too. I feel another Author Binge coming on….

November TBR Challenge: Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens

Or, THE EYES HAVE IT: A Textual Analysis

  • Devil's Bride by Stephanie LaurensTitle: Devil’s Bride
  • Series: Cynster, Book 1
  • Author: Stephanie Laurens
  • Published: Avon, March 1998
  • Source: Purchased
  • Length: 416 pages
  • Tropes: Alpha-Duke, Repetitive Repetition
  • Quick blurb: Alpha-Duke and…oh, whatever, it’s got an Alpha-Duke, what more do you need to know?
  • Quick review: Sorry, can’t hear you, MY EYE IS TWITCHING.
  • Grade: D

The theme for SuperWendy’s 2015 TBR Challenge for November was “It’s All About The Hype (a book or author that got everybody talking).”

I bought Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens a few years ago because it has eight bajillion four- and five-star ratings and umpteen reviews full o’ squee. I’ve seen countless romance readers include it in their Desert Island Keepers and All-Time Favorites and First Alpha Hero and Gateway to Romland lists.

But, alas. This book wasn’t for me. In fact, I’m crossing Laurens off my list permanently because me and this book did not get along AT ALL. And not just because the cover is so boring (see alternatives below).

There was nothing inherently wrong with the characters or plot or storytelling. It was all the usual blowhard alpha-duke and the strong-yet-vulnerable orphaned heroine. A bit of suspense, some smooching, yada yada yada. Probably a Grand Epic Romance when it was first published 17 years ago, and I probably would have given it a solid C.


Like most readers, I have a few pet peeves. Sometimes it’s just a shrug-off “oh, geez, AS IF” kind of thing. Sometimes it ramps up to an “oh, hell no” internal mini-rant.

But sometimes…[you’ll have to imagine me shaking my head very sadly and dramatically]…sometimes a certain pet peeve devolves into a full-on “OH DEAR LORD MAKE IT STOP FFS HOW CAN ANYONE NOT NOTICE THIS WTF WHERE ARE MY CRANKYPANTS I NEED THEM RIGHT NOW” mess of slobbering incoherence.

The quirk that triggers such non-stop cringing is Repetitive Repetition. Authors using the same words and phrases over and over and over. I have no idea why my brain picks up on these things, but once those little seeds are planted, I CAN’T UNSEE THEM.

It’s happened before. I had to cross Grace Burrowes off my list because of her obsession with aristocratic titles and with smells. DEAR GOD, THE SCENTS AND AROMAS AND FRAGRANCES JUST KILL ME NOW.

Other NEVER AGAIN offenders offended me with hair and animal metaphors (sometimes at the same time) and apologies and grinning (sometimes at the same time).

I’m getting an eye twitch just thinking about those bullet lists. Which is ironic. Doubly ironic. Because (1) I ♥ bullet lists; and (2) Stephanie Laurens has A Thing for EYES.


You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

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