Twenty Great Movie Love Songs (1-10)

Falling in Love with Love ...

From Maroon Five's upbeat Sunday Morning in 2003's Something's Gotta Give to Henry Mancini's 1961 bittersweet Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany's to Cole Porter's haunting 1937 In The Still of the Night the movies have brought us hundreds of love songs. Most were composed specifically for a movie, but several famous movie love songs were already in popular culture and then became associated with a specific movie.

Here are ten great romantic selections, with ten more coming soon. Hummm, you might be thinking ... what makes these songs "great." Some were chosen for being quite popular in their moment, some were chosen for their popularity with performers (one song Frank Sinatra liked so much he included renditions on five different albums), some were chosen for their continuing appeal (in 1990 the group, U2, recorded a 60 year old Cole Porter song). And all were chosen because of their appeal to little ol' me...either once upon a time...or to this very day.

So here they are...enjoy!

Moon River.... Days of Wine and Roses...Laura's Theme...The Shadow of Your Smile...The Way We Were...Night and Day...People..Whistling In The Dark... Someone to Watch Over Me ... Fallen ... with ten more coming in part two!

(Presented chronologically, oldest to newest, with no judgement of good, better, best.)

Audrey Hepburn in 'Breakfast at Tiffany's.' Never have a sweatshirt and jeans been so appealing.

1926 song gets new fans from 1996 movie

The oldest song on this list, 1926's Someone To Watch Over Me, is a George Gershwin classic that, according to Wikipedia, been recorded by more than 80 performers as diverse as Bing Crosby, Sheena Easton and Willie Nelson. The song was discovered by a new audience when it was used as 'the love song' in the 1996 Mr. Holland's Opus. The video below shows an earlier rendition, when the song was already 28 years old!

Lovely version of 'Someone To Watch Over Me' from 1954 'Young at Heart' movie

Irish born, international rock star, Bono

Performed Cole Porter's 'In the Still of the Night' n 1990
Performed Cole Porter's 'In the Still of the Night' n 1990

1932 song chosen for recording by U2

Cole Porter has long been revered as one of America's great talents, and is the composer/lyricist of the second oldest song on the list...1932's Night and Day from the movie The Gay Divorcee. Frank Sinatra recorded this song on five different albums. Ella Fitzgerald, Rod Stewart and the Temptations are but a few of the varied artists to feel the powerful appeal of this song. To show how universal this classic love song is, the video here shows the 1990 U2 rendition.

Bono performs Cole Porter's 1932 'Night and Day'

'Laura' theme still sets a romantic mood (NOT the Dr. Zhivago one)

The slow, haunting and bittersweet melody composed for the Otto Preminger 1944 movie, Laura, remains a standard among those who love love songs. And the movie is no slouch either! According to Wikipedia, "In 1999, Laura was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being 'culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.' In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its 'Ten top Ten'-the best ten films in ten 'classic' American film genres-after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Laura was acknowledged as the fourth best film in the mystery genre."

Although David Raskin's melody has been recorded more often as an instrumental, and is more well known than the lyrics, this song was a hit for Frank Sinatra and has been included dozens of times on instrumental albums. The lyrics were by Johnny Mercer, and below is a video of Carly Simon singing this beautiful love song.

To all the lucky women named Laura, starting with actress Gene Tierney... Carly Simon sings her theme

Composer Henry Mancini and lyricist Johnny Mercer were a great team in the 1960s. They composed back-to-back Academy Award winning songs in 1961 and '62; first Moon River for the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's and then The Days of Wine and Roses, for movie of the same name. In 1967, Mancini composed the poignant theme for the Audrey Hepburn/Albert Finney Two For The Road movie. According to Wikipedia, Mancini considered this theme his favorite song.

The video below is performed by Barbra Streisand...a performer many either detest or adore...either way, hope you enjoy.

Barbra Streisand's 2003 recording of 'Moon River' with clips from 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' movie

Andy Williams sings 'The Days of Wine and Roses,' with scenes of New York City

A 1965 song shows up on American Idol in 2008

The 1965 movie The Sandpiper was the source for the song The Shadow of Your Smile which won the Academy Award for Best Song. A major hit for Tony Bennett, it was also included on albums by Barbra Streisand, Bobby Darin and even Marvin Gaye and Kenny G. The song has gained a bit of recognition among current audiences since it was performed by Carly Smithson on the American Idol TV show, season seven, and consequently released for iTunes February, 2008.

A sample of the lyrics here from stlyrics.com

The shadow of your smile when you are gone ... will color all my dreams and light the dawn. Look into my eyes, my love, and see ... all the lovely things you are . . . to me! Our wistful little star was far too high . . . A teardrop kissed your lips and so did I . . . Now, when I remember spring, all the joy that love can bring . . . I will be remembering, the shadow of your smile!

Carly Smithson sings 'The Shadow of Your Smile' on 'American Idol'

Tony Bennett and Juanes Duet for 'The Shadow Of Your Smile'

Mancini's poignant theme for 1967's Audrey Hepburn/Albert Finney 'Two For The Road' movie.

'People' from movie 'Funny Girl'

Barbra Streisand won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her 1968 portrayal of Fanny Brice in the bio-pic "Funny Girl" (in a tie with Katherine Hepburn for her role in Lion in Winter) and the luscious love song of the show was "People." This was Streisand's first movie after a short but highly successful time on Broadway. Prior to choosing Streisand,who had starred in the Broadway musical, producers had considered Anne Bancroft, Edie Gorme and Carol Burnett for the role. For those who think Streisand the greatest, I'm certain they're glad these other talents weren't chosen!

The movie won an Academy Award for best song, but not for 'People.' The award went to the title song, 'Funny Girl.' But the song, 'People,' has become much more a Streisand standard than the song 'Funny Girl.' Additionally, it was named the #13 song of the 2004 American Film Institute's program "100 years...100 Songs."

'People' sung by Barbra Streisand in movie 'Funny Girl'

Whistling Our Way Into the Seventies

The Mancini and Mercer team created another romantic love song for a movie musical now rarely remembered, Darling Lili, starring Julie Andrews. The song is Whistling in the Dark which Andrews performs in this role as a British music hall performer during World War One. While the movie might be forgettable, the song - which received an Academy Award nomination - is definitely worth remembering.

Julie Andrews from movie 'Darling Lili' performs 'Whistling In The Dark'

1973: Streisand hits the right notes again

Another Academy Award for best song went to composer Marvin Hamlish and the lyricist team of Alan and Marilyn Bergman for the Barbra Streisand-performed The Way We Were from the movie of the same name. Hugely popular in it's day, but seldom heard now. Perhaps many decades will have to pass for another performer to re-discover this song as U2 did with Cole Porter.

Barbra Streisand sings 'The Way We Were' from 1973 movie

An overlooked song from 'Pretty Woman' movie

Jumping into the 1990s...(missed a lot during 80s...was raising small children and main movie input films like "Mighty Ducks" and "Parent Trap" family fare) Music played a strong role in the 1990 movie Pretty Woman, indeed the movie's title based on the Roy Orbison 1964 song of same name. David Bowie, Natalie Cole, Prince, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Lauren Wood. It is Wood's song, Fallen that makes this list. One of the few instances, on this list, that is an existing song chosen to be used in a movie rather than a song originally composed for a movie. Enjoy!

'Fallen' from Pretty Woman written and performed by Lauren Wood

Some not chosen ...

Many might assume a song like I Will Always Love You performed by Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard movie from 1992 should be on this list. But...no. By now it might be noticeable that the selections here are basically of a soft romantic approach, not a power ballad approach. Another power love song I won't include here is My Heart Will Go On from movie Titanic. But be watching...a Power Ballads from the movies coming soon!

As love songs go, the Disney animated movies usually include a somewhat decent song ... like A Whole New World from Aladdin and Can You Feel the Love Tonight by Elton John for Lion King. But for the most part, they're just not my favorite love songs.

What's your favorite?

Is one of these your favorite movie love song? If not...what's your favorite movie love song? And included in selections 11-20, no more Barbra...but Celine, Carly, Bernadette, Bette and more! Even the Dexys Midnight Runners!

Power Ballads/torch songs from the movies...From Judy Garland to Celine Dion to Steven Tyler...what a mix! Click here to enjoy!

Cast your vote for your favorite from this list

  • Fallen
  • The Way We Were
  • Whistling In The Dark
  • People
  • Two For The Road theme
  • The Shadow of Your Smile
  • Days of Wine and Roses
  • Moon River
  • Laura's Theme
  • Someone to Watch Over Me
  • Night and Day
See results without voting

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Comments 14 comments

Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 8 years ago from Massachusetts

What a nice hub. It's nice to know there's someone else who likes music that isn't thought of as "cool". DesertBlondie, if, by any chance, you're looking for some "pre-dug-up" similar music, I've posted Playlist.com playlists on all my blogs.


Pam Pounds profile image

Pam Pounds 8 years ago from So Cal Girl in the Midwest!

Oh my gosh...DesertBlondie, you have struck a nerve! So many classics, so many great artists and composers. Most of whom I listened to when I was a kid because my parents loved them so much.

My mother's favorite - The Shadow of Your Smile. My father's - Moon River.

You really touched my heart with this one...thank you for the music that lit wonderful memories.


desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen Author

To Lisa and Pam...thanks for the compliments, and glad you enjoyed! I'm off to work on songs 11-20!


2patricias profile image

2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Entertaining hub - one of us has a daughter named Laura!


desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen Author

It's a beautiful name, and between this 'Laura' movie and the Dr. Zhivago movie, it's a name that just has such connotations of mysterious alluring beauty and charm!


summer10 profile image

summer10 8 years ago from my happy place :)

I've been in love with Bono since the 80's...... but damn where are the Frank Sinatra's of our day?? and ohhhhhh the incomparable Barbara Streisand, I'm probably one of the very few whose never seen Funny Girl, but now I can't wait.... Thank you desert blondie for bringing *class* to Hubpages. :)


desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen Author

If you like Barbra Streisand, you'll thoroughly enjoy Funny Girl movie. Perhaps Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr. are this era's Frank Sinatra, although it would seem Rod Stewart and Michael Bolton, with their recent "vintage song" recordings, would like to be considered.


fz0213fz profile image

fz0213fz 7 years ago from Beijing,China

Although a Chinese, I'm quite familiar with several of these songs, like Moon River, which has long ago become known to most of Chinese. I also search the rest and listened to them. Very impressive. I think we share the same taste for music, which is not so fashionate nowadays.


desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 7 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen Author

Nice to know great songs are enjoyed by lots of different types of folks! Thanks for your comment.


Jimmy Fuentes profile image

Jimmy Fuentes 7 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga

I am so terrible at knowing the titles of songs. I know the music when I hear it but I always forget the title. What about Bryan Adams from Robin Hood "Everything I do" . I always liked that one along with your other selections. I can't believe that movie was almost 20 years ago. geeeez.


globaltechsource profile image

globaltechsource 7 years ago

this is just simply wonderful! what an inspiration..


tracykarl99 profile image

tracykarl99 6 years ago from San Francisco

A beautiful hub. I am a big, film-lover; so I really enjoyed this. Fantastic choice of songs! Thanks for an awesome read.


AMNYPR 5 years ago

Hola,from Spain! Lovely post! I like very much your selection ;)


MrWright 4 years ago

There are 2 songs I think to be amazing songs, but never seem to make anyone's lists. I think perhaps because of the types of movies, one was a comedy, and the other a very little known film. But the songs, Rose Royce - I Wanna Get Next to You, from CarWash, and BeeGees - To Love Somebody, from the movie Melody. I wonder what people think of these 2.

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