There are a few things no movie feels complete without: a few laughs, a few tears, a bit of conflict – and, of course, a bit of romance. Most films will feature a ‘love interest,’ even in a minor capacity, but sometimes the romance is the true driving force: the key emphasis of the story, much as how, for many, it becomes a key point of emphasis in life.

Love stories are as old as storytelling itself, with such classics as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the novels of Jane Austen having particularly stood the test of time. As the cinema age took off, romantic comedies were immediately among the most beloved film formats, and the cornerstone of many famed actors and filmmakers.

After the darker days of the 70s, the 80s embraced optimism: and there’s no more optimistic and uplifting a message for a movie to convey than true loving conquering all, regardless of the odds. So it was that a fair share of the decade’s biggest and most beloved hits were of the lovey-dovey variety. Critics might have blasted them as saccharine and sentimental, but we shouldn’t overlook that many of the best 80s love stories were also among the smartest, most well-written films of the time.

Which of these 80s romantic classics tugs at your heartstrings the hardest? Scroll down to vote up your favourites, and if you think of any we’ve missed which you consider worthy of inclusion, feel free to add them.

 

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Cocktail

Two years after jetting to superstardom in the smash hit Top Gun, new Hollywood hot-shot Tom Cruise took on the role of another cocky, ambitious young upstart at the head of his game - but this time, the story took place in a very different industry. 1988's Cocktail casts Cruise as Brian Flanagan, an aspiring businessman who moves to New York in search of a high-paying job but meets with nothing but rejection due to his low qualifications. Enrolling in business school, Brian lands a part-time job in a cocktail bar, working under seasoned bartender Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown); however, the glamour of the bar soon takes over Brian's life, and he and Doug become the kings of the cocktail. In a daze of alcohol and women, the dream team is soon driven apart by ambition and jealousy. Brian heads off on his own to pursue his dreams in Jamaica; here he meets and falls in love with Jordan (Elisabeth Shue), and this - along with a troubled reunion with Doug - prompts him to re-assess his life. Directed by Roger Donaldson (No Way Out), Cocktail was written for the screen by Heywood Gould, adapted from Gould's own semi-autobiographical novel detailing his own experiences as a bartender. Bryan Brown called it "one of the very best screenplays I had ever read," noting it was "very dark" and dealt with "the cult of celebrity." However, when Tom Cruise signed on for the lead (which was not originally intended to be so young a character), heavy rewrites were insisted upon to make the film more audience-friendly. A significant addition was the emphasis on the bartenders throwing and spinning bottles; although this is what Cocktail is best remembered for, it was not part of Gould's original novel or script. Brown felt the rewrites made Cocktail "a much slighter movie" than what might have been. The critics would seem to agree, as the film attracted almost universally negative reviews. However, audiences felt otherwise, as Cocktail proved a big hit; its global box office haul of $171 million made it one of the top ten hits of 1988.

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Dirty Dancing

Starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, Dirty Dancing is a romantic drama dance film that became an 80s sensation. When Francis Houseman (Grey), nicknamed Baby, is taken to an upscale holiday resort, the exploitative staff quickly begin to irritate her. Striking up a friendship with Johnny (Swayze), a member of the working-class entertainment team she finds herself falling in love and into a world complicated by sex and power. Written by Eleanor Bergstein, Dirty Dancing caused controversy on its release due to its theme of abortion, an indecent proposal, and the central romance between a 25-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl. However, it was an uproarious box office success, earning $214.6 million on a budget of only $5 million, making it one of the most successful romance films of the 80s. The film has become iconic for its climactic dance number, set to (I've Had) The Time Of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The difficult lift that occurs during the dance, and which Johnny and Baby struggle to perform throughout the film, has similarly become a recurring pop culture image. In spite of the chemistry between the leading duo, Swayze and Grey notoriously did not get along on set, often having arguments; their mutual dislike dated back to their initial collaboration on Red Dawn, a film in which teenagers resist a Soviet invasion with guerilla warfare. Grey considered Swayze arrogant. Dirty Dancing was followed by a loose prequel in 2004's Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. While not involving the characters of the original film, Havana Nights does make use of the same basic plot. It also stars Swayze in a cameo as a dance class instructor. Havana Nights, despite being made on a budget of $25 million, made only $27.7 million at the box office.

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