AFI’s Top 100 Romances

Ah, l’amour.

The American Film Institute’s top 100 lists now include the best American screen romances–and Casablanca wins the top honors.

The ultra-romantic film starring Humphrey Bogart as bar owner Rick Blaine and the exquisite Ingrid Bergman as his long-lost love, Ilsa, took the No. 1 spot when CBS aired the special AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions Tuesday night.

The rest of the top 10, in order, included Gone with the Wind, West Side Story, Roman Holiday, An Affair to Remember, The Way We Were, Doctor Zhivago, It’s a Wonderful Life, Love Story and City Lights.

The oldest film to make it on the list was the 1920 Way Down East, which came in at No. 71, while the most recent film was the 1998 Shakespeare in Love at No. 50.

The range was very broad: from the hilarious, such as Annie Hall (No. 11) and When Harry Met Sally… (No. 25), to the tragic, such as Wuthering Heights (No. 15) and Titanic (No. 37).

During the broadcast, a myriad of directors, producers and actors gave their two cents about the choices on the list and pondered the question: What makes a love story great?

“At the end of the day, it’s what happens between a man and a woman on the screen,” When Harry Met Sally… said director Rob Reiner , who also had two other films make it to the list, The American President (No. 75) and The Princess Bride (No. 88). “It’s a very different approach to that in all three cases with my films.”

Director Sydney Pollack, whose film Out of Africa was No. 13 on the list, added, “When there’s real closure in a love story and it’s resolved in a happy way, it doesn’t reverberate as much afterward. That’s been true from Greek tragedy on, from Shakespeare on. Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Heloise and Abelard. Many great love stories have been about unobtainability.”

According to AP, AFI began its tradition of annual lists on different movie themes four years ago. The top 100 screen romances were chosen by about 1,800 directors, actors, studio executives, critics and others in Hollywood, who voted from a field of 400 nominated films.