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20 Best WWII Romance Movies, Ranked

Legendary Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes once said, “Love and war are the same, and stratagems and policy are as allowable in the one as in the other.” Satirist Henry Louis Mencken also wrote ‘Love is like war… easy to begin but very hard to stop.” Both men were right, There are plenty of real-world stories about couples who met during World War II and still found a way to stick together. These tales are inspirational, yet better ones can be found in movies.

Before the truce had even been declared, filmmakers from all around the globe had begun tapping into the joys and pain of World War II. Numerous movies have been made, and the trend has never stopped. Today, there is a large vault of big-screen productions that combine kisses and battles, but which are the most recommendable ones?

The following films not only shed more light on the war but also show how the seeds of love can germinate in the harshest of soils.

20 Suite Française (2014)

Based on the second half of Holocaust victim Irène Némirovsky‘s novel, Suite Français centers around a romance between French villager Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams) and German soldier Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts) during the early stages of the Nazi occupation of France. Lucile is initially reluctant about canoodling with the charming man, but after learning that her imprisoned husband might never come out of the POW camp, she figures, “Why not?”

The Sound of Lust

With its star-studded cast that includes Michelle Williams, Ruth Wilson, and Margot Robbie, Suite Française easily serves as an acting class for most of its 107-minute running time. The eye movements, the fear, and the lust all feel genuine.


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Still, it’s the accompanying music that’s the most alluring. After all, Bruno is not only good at stroking Lucile’s hair but also at stroking the keys of the pianoforte. Unsurprisingly, the Lifetime movie received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music Composition.

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19 The Exception (2016)

In The Exception, Captain Brandt (Jai Courtney) is ordered to guard the residence of exiled German Emperor Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer) at Huis Doorn in the Netherlands. The Nazi regime is worried that the Allies might send a spy to assassinate the deposed leader, so they make an effort to protect him. After all, he is still cherished by German citizens. While watching over the leader, Brandt ends up falling for the maidservant Mieke (Lily James).

Blending Romance and Espionage

True to its title, The Exception is about Nazis who happen to be different.

Wilhelm spends his days criticizing Hitler and his policies, while Captain Brandt focuses more on unclasping the maid’s brassiere than guarding the former ruler. But are they good? Brandt has only adapted to his new circumstances after getting wounded, while Wilhem is just angry about no longer being in power. After all, he is the same person who once infamously claimed “Jews are a nuisance that humanity must get rid of… I believe the best thing would be gas!

The movie brilliantly digs into the psyches of both men while stitching the romance arcs with a beautiful espionage story. Mieke doesn’t just clean the house. She happens to be the spy who has been sent to assassinate the Kaiser.

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18 The Notebook (2004)

The Notebook

The Notebook rewinds to 1940s South Carolina where lumber mill employee Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) falls for the wealthy teen girl Allie (Rachel McAdams). The two begin the usual pattern of giggles, cuddles, and sneaking around only for their fun days to be cut short when Noah is forced to enlist in the army.

While he is away, Allie gets a new man because of zero communication from Noah, unaware that her mother has been hiding his letters. When he reappears one day, she starts to wonder whether she should reconsider.

Greatest Movie Kiss… Maybe

Picking the greatest movie kiss is a hard exercise as there have been many passionate ones, but there is a good case for the lip-locking scene between Noah and Allie, which won the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss. It isn’t just a normal kiss in normal surroundings. There is rain, there is the hungry stare, and then there is a beautiful quote that ushers the moment: “I wrote you 365 letters – I wrote you every day for a year.”

The Notebook is a demonstration of how to love hard and how to do it without remorse. The lovebirds have unbelievable chemistry, which is surprising considering that Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams didn’t get along on the set. Kudos to them for hiding their frowns in front of the camera.

Stream it on Prime Video

17 From Here to Eternity (1953)

From Here to Eternity is a WWII drama set a few days before the Pearl Harbor attacks. In it, reclusive soldier and boxing champ Robert “Prew” Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) draws the ire of the overbearing Capt. Holmes (Philip Ober) when he vows never to step in the ring again. In reaction, the captain subjects him to daily torture. At the same time, another officer is shown to be sleeping with the captain’s neglected wife.

Bad Moves, Bad Results

With a whopping eight Oscars to its name, From Here to Eternity’s spot among the greatest films of all time is guaranteed. The dynamic between Prew and Holmes feels a lot like that of Gomer Pyle and Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. It wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Stanley Kubrick borrowed a thing or two. Besides that, the looming danger of the Japanese attack gives the movie an endless tense feeling.

When it comes to romance, this is a movie about action and consequences. Holmes treats his wife badly and pays dearly for it. In addition to that, Prew bumps into a major misfortune later in the film after refusing to listen to his lover.

Stream it on the Criterion Channel

16 Charlotte Gray (2001)

Charlotte Gray is not only just a great WWII romance movie but also one of the most intriguing female-led war movies. The central character is Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) officer Charlotte (Cate Blanchette), who doesn’t join the war because of patriotism but because she is eager to find her pilot lover whose plane is rumored to have gone down in France. Soon, she finds herself with plenty on her plate.

Patience and Resilience

The French countryside is captured so beautifully that it resembles Renaissance art, and as an actor who has been in numerous period dramas, Cate Blanchette doesn’t disappoint. Plenty of trivia is also provided regarding Winston Churchill’s plan to recruit women spies into the SOE.

When it comes to the romance arc, audiences are asked to be patient. There is no intimacy. Even though she meets a French man named Julen, Charlotte remains eager to find her dear Gregory. And she sure does find him. It thus remains a question of who she will choose in the end.

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15 Shining Through (1992)

Shining Through initially takes the guise of a legal drama. Linda Voss (Melanie Griffith) achieves her dream of working as a secretary for the renowned lawyer Ed Leland (Michael Douglas), but after a few days on the job, she learns that he is an OSS spy.

Still, a strong bond grows between them and when America joins the war, she agrees to head to Nazi Europe to acquire information about the V-1 flying bomb for him because she is fluent in German. It’s later revealed that she has a secret motivation. Her Jewish family is in Berlin, and she intends to help them.

Michael Douglas in Familiar Territory

By the time he was appearing in Shining Through, Michael Douglas was already used to playing the charming guy who women couldn’t resist. He did so brilliantly in Wall Street, Fatal Attraction, and Basic Instinct, and he repeats the same here.


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Once again, he is given free rein so he keeps improvising at will. What results is a brilliant mixture of passion and pain. Melanie Griffith too, benefits from portraying a well-written character. A memorable scene involves Linda plucking documents and stuffing them into her shoe. Impressive stuff, considering that the character only learns spy work by watching television.

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14 Beautiful Dreamer (2006)

Beautiful Dreamer finds Claire (Brooke Langton) hoping for a bright future with her new husband, Joe Kelly (Colin Egglesfield), only for him to disappear while serving as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber pilot for the United States Army Air Force during the war. Joe is presumed dead. But upon chancing upon information that he might be alive, Claire vows to find him. She achieves her mission, only to discover he is no longer the same man she fell in love with.

In Sickness and in Health?

The movie challenges audiences to think whether they would stick to their lovers if everything went wrong health-wise. It’s heartbreaking to watch Claire’s face when she realizes Joe can no longer remember her. He suffers from amnesia after taking a hit to the head.

As hard as she tries to stick around, she keeps getting signs that she should just let go. Despite constantly accentuating the undesirable side of mental health, Beautiful Dreamer isn’t a sad film. Scenes between Joe and Chloe are interspersed with those of plane rides and merry-making, creating a cheerful feeling.

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13 The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)

Loosely based on essayist F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “Babylon Revisited, The Last Time I Saw Paris covers the love triangle between a reporter and two sisters. Events kick off when Charles Wills (Van Johnson) heads to Paris to cover the end of World War II for the American military newspaper Stars and Stripes.

During the celebrations, a woman kisses him and disappears, but shortly after, he bumps into another crowd member who he starts dating. However, complications arise when he realizes the mysterious woman who kissed him is his new girlfriend’s sister.

Clear Picture of a Bad Marriage

Because it doesn’t involve soldiers, The Last Time I Saw Paris is refreshing to watch. For the most part, it emphasizes that happiness isn’t determined by external factors but by internal ones. Even though the war has ended, Charles is never happy. He remains a down-on-his-luck journalist and his marriage keeps getting worse. The saddest scene involves him locking his wife, Helen, out of the house after seeing her with another man.

This forces her to walk a long distance to her sister’s house and because of that, she catches pneumonia and dies. Helen is portrayed beautifully by Elizabeth Taylor, who was at her peak when the movie came out.

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12 Cabaret (1972)

With the rise of the Nazi Empire serving as a backdrop, Cabaret chronicles the adventures of the openly promiscuous cabaret singer Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli). Always making the first movie, she attempts to seduce British academic and writer Brian Roberts (Michael York), who is conflicted about his sexuality.

The pair still go on to date, but things get more interesting when the wealthy bisexual playboy Maximilian von Heune (Helmut Griem) seduces them both and Sally becomes pregnant, unsure of who the father is.

Queer Complexities

In a year when The Godfather was competing for several Oscars, Cabaret won eight trophies, proving itself the superior production at the time. Its legacy might not be as strong as that of the Francis Ford Coppola movie, yet it has aged well. Many LGBTQ films hardly ever imagine a love triangle involving both heterosexual and gay characters. The movie also breaks the cliche of musicals having a feel-good tone. There are more tears than smiles, as well as a lesson to be learned.

Rent it on Apple TV+

11 Lili Marleen (1981)

Lili Marleen takes audiences to Switzerland as the war is starting. Aspiring German songstress Willie (Hanna Schygulla) has fallen for the Jewish conductor Robert (Giancarlo Giannini). Sadly, Robert’s wealthy father is against the relationship. He organizes for Wllie to be deported to Germany, and while there, she gets a hit song and becomes famous. While all this is happening, Robert makes an effort to be with her again.

Withering Romance

Do long-distance relationships work? Well, anyone who watches Lili Marleen will be convinced that they don’t. Even so, the couple here has to be excused because the circumstances are quite complicated. What’s harder for Robert is watching Willie do things he doesn’t stand for. Her song becomes popular among German troops, giving them a greater desire to hunt Jews. And as hard as he tries to get close to her, things never really work out.

Buy it on Amazon

10 Australia (2008)



Release Date
November 18, 2008

Shea Adams , Eddie Baroo , Ray Barrett , Tony Barry , Jamal Bednarz-Metallah , Damian Bradford


Australia sees Lady Sarah Ashley of England (Nichole Kidman) traveling to Australia to convince her playboy husband to sell his cattle station and return home. Unfortunately, he gets killed while she is on her way to meet him. Within no time, she falls for the cattle drover he had sent to pick her up. The two settle down together but their happily-ever-after dreams are cut short when Japanese forces attack Australia.

Looking the Part

While watching Australia, it immediately becomes clear that the costume design department did the best job. This was also recognized by the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences. Additionally, there is a general authentic feel. Despite having an American lead, the cast is mostly Australian. Most importantly, this is a film about a couple overcoming challenges together, rather than trying too hard to band. The more they tackle the external challenges, the closer they grow.

Rent it on Apple TV+

9 Pearl Harbor (2001)

Pearl Harbor presents a slightly fictionalized version of the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor military base on December 7, 1941. Before the attack happens, a pilot named Rafe (Ben Affleck) falls for the nurse, Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale). After a mission, Rafe is presumed dead, and as Evelyn and his friend Danny (Josh Hartnett are mourning him, the two fall in love. Rafe later returns, but before all three parties can patch things, the Japanese raid happens.

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For a filmmaker known as the “Master of Explosions,” Michael Bay was always the right person to direct Pearl Harbor. A story about one of the worst attacks in American history could have easily been told without a romance arc, and that’s what Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, or Sam Mendes might have done. Thankfully, Michael Bay chose a different approach.


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As Titanic proved, tragedy goes well with romance. Both of the movie’s main male characters are intriguing in their own way, making it hard to pick the ideal candidate for Evelyn’s heart. Unfortunately, a tragedy makes the choice easier.

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8 Lacombe, Lucien (1974)

It’s human nature to support the opposing side once the cherished side delivers a brutal rejection, and that’s what Lucien (Pierre Blaise) does in Lacombe, Lucien. Early in the movie, the titular character is informed that he is too young to join the French Resistance, so he becomes resentful and allies with the Nazi’s Gestapo wing. His loyalties are soon tested when he falls for France Horn (Aurore Clément), a young Jewish woman from rural France.

Stockholm Syndrome

Lacombe, Lucien offers some harsh reminders about the war, notably the fact that not every French citizen supported the French Resistance. Some, like Lucien, simply looked out for their own interests. Sadly for Lucien, he joins the war during its last stages when the Nazi Regime has begun losing its grip.

Away from the war storyline, the bond between Lucien and the French lady is rather interesting. Because of his power, she bullies her and her family. He even moves into their home and forces them to feed him, yet she falls for him. But as movie twists would have it, he chooses to protect them all in the third act.

Stream it on the Criterion Channel

7 The English Patient (1996)


The English Patient

Release Date
December 6, 1996

Anthony Minghella

162 Minutes

Based on Michael Ondaatje’s novel of the same name. The English Patient captures the bond between a badly injured cartographer (Ralph Fiennes), and a French-Canadian nurse working at a mobile army unit. Through their conversations, details about their past (including their romantic lives), become clear. The stakes are raised when an intelligence officer arrives and accuses the patient of helping the Nazi.

Reluctance and Aggression

The English Patient was nominated for 12 Oscars, proving how robust it is in all areas. Because the two main characters aren’t in love, the movie gets to tell different love stories about them, each highlighting some oddities about romance and coupling.

For example, the nurse falls for a bomb disposal expert, but she fears approaching him, believing she carries bad luck with her. “I must be a curse. Anybody who loves me… who gets close to me… is killed,” she says. The man, on the other hand, is shown (through flashbacks) to have been so creepily aggressive that a potential love interest once asked him, “Why follow me? Escort me, by all means, but to follow me?”

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6 Casablanca (1942)



Release Date
November 26, 1942

Michael Curtiz


Casablanca is often labeled the greatest war movie of all time, yet its appeal mainly comes from love than bullets. The film stars Humphrey Bogart as Rick, an expatriate who runs a popular nightclub in Casablanca, Morocco. Rick lives under the watchful eye of Nazi soldiers who suspect him of helping refugees escape to neutral America.

Things get complicated for him when his old flame, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), shows up with her husband, who happens to be a Czechoslovak resistance leader. Conflicted, Rick wonders whether to try and win back Ilsa or help her Nazi-hating hubby avoid capture.

Feelings vs Honor

Romantic feelings often get in the way of what is right, and such is the dilemma that is all-so-evident in Casablanca. Rick’s heart wants what it wants, yet his mind knows that the Nazis need to be defeated, hence the logical thing to do would be to help his former lover’s husband. Though it was made during WWII and meant to ride on the wave of current affairs, the movie has aged well and is still borrowed from by new-age filmmakers.

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5 Black Book (2006)

Black Book

Black Book

Release Date
September 14, 2006


A near-death encounter early in Black Book influences the young Jewish-Dutch singer Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten) to join the Jewish resistance group known as The Hague. She assumes the name Ellis de Vries, with her biggest test coming when her seniors instruct her to seduce the local Gestapo commander, Hauptsturmführer Ludwig (Sebastian Koch). Ellis succeeds, only to find herself falling in love with the enemy.

War with Erotic Flair

In 2006, Black Book was voted the Best Dutch Film of All Time by the public, and it isn’t hard to see why. Rachel Stein is a very strong protagonist who mostly curves her path and dictates her terms in a mostly chauvinistic world. She is unapologetically sexually liberated too, which isn’t surprising considering the movie was directed by Paul Verhoeven. Like Catherine from Basic Instinct, she lies when it’s convenient and becomes brutally honest at the most inappropriate of times.

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4 Mrs. Miniver (1942)

The Minivers from Mrs. Miniver are shown living comfortably until war breaks out in Britain. Bitten by the patriotism bug, the eldest son, Vin (Richard Ney), chooses to join the Royal Air Force. Interestingly, war turns out to be his easiest challenge. His hardest challenge is his romance with Carol (Teresa Wright), the aristocratic grandchild of Lady Beldon. While Vin’s parents support the union, Lady Beldon tries to sabotage it, believing Vin isn’t man enough.

A Propaganda Tool

Mrs. Miniver was primarily created as a propaganda tool meant to drum up support for Britain during the war, but its soapy elements triggered interest from all parties, even those who cared more for peace than conflict. Here was a British family whose perfect life had been disrupted by war, and a patriotic son who deserved all the good things after fighting for his country. Winston Churchill would later confess that the film “had done more for the war effort than a flotilla of destroyers.”

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3 Allied (2016)



Release Date
November 17, 2016


Allied introduces audiences to Wing Commander Max Vatan (Brad Pitt(, a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot and spy who is on a mission to assassinate a Nazi ambassador in Casablanca. He is paired with the French Resistance fighter, Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard), and as expected, the two fall in love after posing as a married couple. They eventually tie the knot, only for darker secrets about Marianne to emerge.

A Nod to a Classic

The film might have been an Academy contender, had the production team not tried too hard to replicate the style and awesomeness of Casablanca. Still, from a romance perspective, it works. After all, it was written by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, who has the gift of turning antiheroes into the most romantic people.

The plot points to a familiar fear. No one wants to trust someone and then find out they are not who they say they are. But what happens when things happen that way?

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2 Enchantment (1948)

In Enchantment, Grizel (Evelyn Keyes), an army ambulance driver, visits her grand-uncle in London during World War II, There he narrates stories of how he fell in love as a young soldier, but messed it up, something he has regretted for the rest of his life. This urges Gritzel to relentlessly pursue a romance with an injured pilot.

One of the Most Heartbreaking WWII Movie Endings

Enchantment’s flashback format allows it to tell a series of touching love stories while still maintaining its ‘war movie’ DNA. Even though Grizel is a great character, it is Selina (Jayne Meadows), who spices up things by attempting to sabotage peoples’ relationships. Additionally, the film has one of the most heartbreaking endings in which Grizel runs out of the house to meet her love, following the advice of her grand-uncle, only for the house to be bombed while the old man is inside.

Stream it on Prime Video

1 Memoirs of a Geisha (2006)

memoirs of a geisha

Memoirs Of A Geisha (2005)

Release Date
December 6, 2005

Suzuka Ohgo , Togo Igawa , Mako , Samantha Futerman , Elizabeth Sung , Thomas Ikeda


Memoirs of a Geisha is the tale of Japanese girl Chiyo Sakamoto (Zhang Ziyi i) who is sold off to a geisha house by her impoverished family so that she can support them financially. She quickly becomes a successful geisha under the pseudonym “Sayuri Nitta” but her career progress is halted when Word War II breaks out, and she is forced to work as a kimono maker.

Falling for the Boss

The film touches on a topic that perhaps many might consider unethical: falling for the boss. In the final act, it’s revealed that the only reason Chiro has kept on working hard is so that she can be close to the boss known as The Chairman. Still, things don’t go as lustfully straightforwardly as audiences might hope. The Chairman handles the matter with the gracefulness that modern bosses perhaps ought to eliminate to avoid getting in trouble.

Rent it on Apple TV+

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