Poll: What’s Your Favorite Frock Flick Romance?


We may be cynical crusty old ladies, but there also might be a squishy tender heart underneath there somewhere. Also, costume dramas yield up a hell of a lot of romances for some reason. Because of all this, and obviously today’s date, it seems appropriate to pick a historical costume movie (or TV) romance to watch!

Now, we had to winnow it down a smidge, and here’s our totally arbitrary guidelines:

  • The story must primarily be about romantic relationships (Wuthering Heights, yes! Jane Eyre, not so much).
  • Happy ending is not required (Romeo and Juliet is both a romance and a tragedy).
  • No biopics (any life could have romance, depending how you write it).
  • Only one version of a frock flick, let’s not get carried away here!

Vote for your top three





Why did you vote how you did? What frock flick would you add to the list?


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Three historical costumers who decided the world needed a podcast and blog dedicated to historical costume movies and everything right and wrong with them.

57 Responses

  1. Jillian

    I hate the fact that I can only pick one because a I love so many of these movies!

  2. Shashwat

    Dangerous liaisons?Romance?I thought it was the perfect medicine for people in lurve.Would make anyone think a thousand times about falling in love.

  3. Susan Pola Staples

    I’m not seeing a list to vote for. But I will say that I loved Wings of the Dove, Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, and A Room with a View for movies. And Outlander for tv.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I wish I knew why this plugin doesn’t work for some ppl! The company that makes it isn’t very helpful but I can try again. What browser & version & OS are you using?

      • Susan Pola Staples

        My smartphone is a Galaxy Note10+ and it’s an Android phone. I pull you up on Google Chrome.

  4. Author Jennifer Quail

    Definitely can’t pick just one, but I do LOVE that version of “Persuasion.” So much. I may have to watch it today. But “Much Ado” is very close. I’ll even accept Denzel and Keanu as half-brothers.

  5. gail

    For some reason (possibly enumerated below) I can’t reply to Trystan’s comment.
    These plug-ins never work for me, and I’m on an iPad/iPhone. However, I believe the issue in my house is that Eldest the Nerd has a server and it has a pi-hole, which blocks ad content. Therefore, it could be blocking the poll if it uses a third party. Just a thought. I’m no techie, but I live with ‘in-house’ support who rolls their eyes all the way to NJ from Mountain View, CA.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Probably an ad blocker & maybe at the server level, because I can see it on my iPhone :(

      We use a third-party plugin for polls & quizzes, it’s the only way to do a lot of things on WordPress.

  6. SarahV

    The BBC Pride & Prejudice is seared across my heart, not only for “The Look” TM. but just because Jennifer Ehle’s Lizzie is just sooooooooooooooo perfect.

    (bonus for the spot on skeevy Wickham)

  7. Northcountry gal

    Love The Last of the Mohicans. Both for the Hawkeye/Cora romance and for the Uncas/Alice very quiet and tragic romance.

  8. Guest

    My favourite romance movie is the 2005 version of P&P, I know it’s a bit too shabby chic, but I still love it. The length is perfect for a feel good movie, and I think everyone is perfectly cast, and it never fails to put me in a better mood.
    The 80s and 95 versions are a bit too long to work the same way for me, even though the 80s version is more accurate to the book, and the 95 has prettier costumes.

    • Katie O

      I feel the same! I know some people hate it but sometimes I want to be able to watch P&P in an evening, and the music is so beautiful. I think the movie and the miniseries bring different things to the table, just depending on what you’re in the mood for.

  9. Katlin

    My favourite one would be the love story in “Stage Beauty” but I’m not sure if that counts as a romantic movie. :D (I voted for three other favourites of course, I have so many…)

    • Noisette

      I adore Stage Beauty but if Jane Eyre doesn’t count as a romance for the purpose of this poll, I don’t think Stage Beauty would, either. (Both are more about the principals’ growing into themselves as people and finding a place in the world… actually now that I think of it, Stage Beauty resembles Jane Eyre quite a bit!).

  10. Penny H

    My thoughts almost exactly, thanks for saying it. No squishy heart in there.

    • Penny H

      That was supposed to be a reply to Shashwat on Dangerous Liasions above.

  11. Charity

    Tough choices. In the end, went for GWTW, TITANIC, and Shakespeare in Love. Generally I would choose Austen, but I have to give SIL props for being an original story.

    • SarahV

      I, too, am a adherent of Shakespeare in Love, and I certainly admire the intricacy and cleverness of the plot, how the affair between Viola and Wil both inspires and then replicates Romeo and Juliet, with a few little historical easter Eggs, but … well, Gwyneth Paltrow (and for this, she wins an Oscar?) .

      The electrifying moment in that movie has nothing to do with romance, though. It’s Judi Dench’s regal gravitas erupting like a volcano at the end of the play. Shit, that still takes my breath away.

  12. Penny H

    What an amazing list!

    Sorry for multiple comments. My three were Room with a View, North and South, and Sense and Sensibility.

    A few thoughts:

    -I’ve seen Pride and Prejudice too many times and it’s kind of worn out for me (sorry if this bothers anybody). And as fine as the 1995 version is, I still prefer the earlier one with Elizabeth Garvie.

    -Age of Innocence is too tragic to be romantic for me. Like Dangerous Liaisons, great movie, not romantic as such.

    -It’s been too long since I’ve seen Persuasion, so I can’t say if I would have voted for it if I’d seen it recently.

    -I disliked Much Ado About Nothing, mostly because of the soppy music and the galumphing about that passed for dancing (sorry if this bothers anyone).

    -Nobody has ever made a perfect Wuthering Heights; they probably shouldn’t even try.

    -If I were going to add something to this list, it would be Camille Claudel, except I wouldn’t add it, because it’s too tragic to be romantic. But it perhaps speaks the most to my own life, in a way.

    -And while we’re on Isabel Adjani, there’s always The Story of Adèle H, too tragic and one-sided to be one-sided.

    You’ve almost reconciled me to Valentine’s Day with this poll.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Tragedy & romance are closely entwined tho! As I said, Romeo & Juliet is a great romance, but the lovers die.

      The 1992 is as close to a perfect Wuthering Heights as possible, IMO. It’s fairly historically accurate & fairly book-accurate, & also super romantic.

      I did consider Camille Claudel but it’s a biopic. Haven’t seen The Story of Adele H. & need to fix that!

      • M.E. Lawrence

        Trystan, thanks for your ’92 Wuthering rec. I never would have imagined Fiennes and Binoche in the roles, but they’re both so splendid, so why not? (Just checked IMDB; Janet McTeer! Jeremy Northam! Must find it.)

        The 2011 version is strange and depressing, but the cinematography is wonderful– captures how utterly bleak and dank and non-romantic Yorkshire can be.

  13. MoHub

    Going way back, I always loved Made for Each Other, with Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna. Not a period piece, but still my favorite.

  14. Lynne Connolly

    No Fred and Ginger? Shame! I immediately discarded all Thomas Hardy adaptations, because Hardy is sooo depressing. I like musicals, but no Fred and Ginger! Then it got really tricky. I dumped Titanic because the romance isn’t why I like that film (“Climb up here on this door with me, and we can both be saved!”) I love My Fair Lady but they did Audrey Hepburn a disservice by dubbing in Marnie Nixon. My favourite indulgent movie is Notting Hill, but that wasn’t a choice. Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet had me crying noisily all the way home, so that had to go in. And it introduced me to Michael York, so yes, that. Not the Andrew Davies Pride and Prejudice when he turned a social comedy into a standard, formulaic romance. And gave them all aristocratic palaces to live in. I picked Dangerous Liaisons for the clothes. And Singin In The Rain because it’s pure joy and I love the stories behind it, like the woman who played Lena did all the singing for her character, so Debbie Reynolds was miming to her voice.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I haven’t seen all of them, but I don’t know of a Fred & Ginger historical costume movie. As I say in our FAQs, ‘Top Hat came out in 1935 and has gorgeous costumes, but it’s set in the then-contemporary period of the 1930s.’ So it’s not a historical costume movie.

  15. Roxana

    I just watched the 1995 Sense and Sensibility. Not bad, but I prefer the book.

  16. Saraquill

    I didn’t vote. Of the ones I’m familiar with, maybe the Outlander adaptation has my kind of romance but I doubt it. There are so many love stories that stick to the early bits. I’d rather see a couple (or polyamorus group) still together, still in love after many years.

    Gomez and Morticia FTW!

    • Boxermom

      Yes to Gomez & Morticia! I love how they were madly in love with each other, even after all those years. One of my picks was ” Romeo and Juliet”. Watched it again last night. That moment when he first sees her at the party… unforgettable.

  17. TSTooth

    This was fun. Since it was Valentine’s Day I went with happy endings (more or less).

  18. Cheryl Warren

    Why? North and South: Two words. Richard Armitage.
    Why? Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare.
    Why? The Way We Were: Chronicles parts of my life that are nobody else’s business! ALWAYS makes me cry and I almost NEVER cry.

  19. Roxana

    I almost voted for Cyranode Bergerac, but I saw it wasn’t my beloved 1950 version starring Jose Ferrer.

  20. MoHub

    And where is Princess Bride? Not just Buttercup and Westley (“Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”), but the great bromance between Fezzik and Inigo.

    • Katie O.

      Isn’t that a fantasy though? It’s not set in a real time and place so I don’t think it qualifies as a historical costume drama

  21. Jai Woods

    My top pick from this list was Zhivago.
    My personal choice is ”Brief Encounter” with Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, director David Lean. Pretty much a perfect

  22. Constance

    Gee i guess I do not like romance much lol…I do love Room with a View though not wild about the character of George. I like Dangerous L but never thought of it as a romance. While I enjoyed Sense & Sensibility, I think JA’s men (heroes) are mostly so weak…esp Edward and the Mansfield Park guy. I think I prefer straight period drama and bio pics…

  23. Lee Jones

    This was tough, but in the end, I selected:

    “North and South” (2004)

    “Pride and Prejudice” (1995)

    “Far From the Madding Crowd” (2015)

  24. Lily Lotus Rose

    Once again, you’ve come up with some really tough choices. In the end, I was guided by “happily ever after.” By choosing happily ever after, I disqualified some of my faves on your list because they were tragic–and my younger self LOVED tragic romance. I chose “A Room with a View,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” and “North and South”. Ironically, I didn’t choose the one that plays with the notion of happily ever after–“Ever After”–because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it. I can’t remember the quality of the movie.

    Movies I wish were included on your list: Possession, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and Death Comes to Pemberley.