I love romantic comedies and dramas. In fact, I think I may have seen too many romance movies for my own good — but then again, who hasn’t? I recently watched five iconic romance films from different time periods. While all of them are pretty cheesy, I loved watching them.

Casablanca (1942)

Set in 1941 in Casablanca, Morocco – a refuge for those seeking freedom from Nazi occupation and passage to the then-neutral United States — Casablanca tells the story of a broken heart, secrecy and a difficult decision. Though romance is still a large part of the plot of this story, I also enjoy how other themes are explored within the context of World War II, which is when this film was released. The film doesn’t center solely around the love story, and rightfully so because World War II was a dangerous, desperate time for everyone, and I love how Casablanca seamlessly intertwines romance and peril into a beautiful, gripping film.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Though this musical was released in 1952, Singin’ in the Rain takes place in the ’20s, during the transition from silent film to “talkies.” Famous movie stars Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) and Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) are the couple cast in every romance movie in the silent era, but Lina’s strident voice forces the film company to appoint movie extra Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) as her off-screen voice. Like Casablanca, this film doesn’t use romance as a central theme. Though Don and Kathy’s romance isn’t very developed, the movie still has several gush-worthy moments and definitely portrays romance within the affluent lifestyle that many think of when reminiscing on the Roaring ’20s. Oh, and the musical numbers are amazing!

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Sleepless in Seattle follows the story of Sam Baldwin, who reluctantly goes on the radio to talk about his grief over his wife’s death, and Annie Reed, who listens to the broadcast and inadvertently falls in love with Sam. The film heavily references the 1957 film An Affair to Remember. Having not been in the dating scene since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, the hilarity of Sam’s lack of knowledge about what has changed in the world, coupled with his son’s antics, makes this a more comedic film that offsets some of the sadder movies on this list. It is interesting to see how grief, previous romantic relationships and kids affect Sam’s approach to love, giving viewers a perspective beyond the typical summer teen romance.

A Walk to Remember (2002)

This film is based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, so obviously, tissues are needed in order to watch this film. A Walk to Remember is the story of Landon and Jamie, two teenagers who are polar opposites. While Landon is arrested at the beginning of the film, Jamie is the daughter of a preacher who carries a Bible with her everywhere she goes. Their stories inevitably collide, and I love how much Landon changes as a result of Jamie. They really bring out the best in each other, encourage each other and support each other, and it is beautiful to see the growth of such a healthy relationship. Just keep in mind that watching Nicholas Sparks movies usually leads to tears.

Me Before You (2016)

Me Before You tells the story of the bubbly and energetic Louisa Clark and Will Traynor, a paraplegic man who at first is seemingly irritated by Louisa. This movie uniquely shows relationships between disabled and able-bodied people in an unexpected light: Instead of Will’s physical handicap acting as an obstacle that affects their romance, one of the main things that impacts the couple is his mental health and his relationships with others. This film revealed aspects of living with a disability that I’d never thought of before. Additionally, Will and Louisa’s relationship evokes a wide sprawl of emotions, and by the end of the movie, one can’t help but love their love.

Niveditha Bala is a junior at Mandela International Magnet School. Contact her at niveditha.bala@mandelainternationalschool.us