Classic Movies to Help You Survive Heartbreak

The agony of getting over a breakup is undeniable. You read inspiring pick-me-up articles that suggest you exercise, drown yourself in chocolate, and hang out with your gal pals. “Enjoy your independence!” they say.

Meanwhile, you are thinking of all the things you would rather experience than deal with your very-present heartbreak. You would rather fall into a river infested with bloodthirsty pirhanas. Get an unexpected phone call from the IRS. Live through a fiery armageddon.

Help is on the way! Movies can be an extremely therapeutic way to heal from a breakup. Psychiatrists even have a word for using movies to soothe an aching heart: cinematherapy. As Psychology Today puts it, “Movies can bring down psychic-emotional barriers, penetrate the wall of resistance, both conscious and unconscious, oftentimes very deftly and then open up the issues aroused for discussion in therapy.”

And with classic films, there is the added bonus that the feelings you are experiencing are not only shared, but have been throughout time.

Knowing this will help you get over your breakup. You will survive.


Bogie and Bergman in “Casablanca”

This classic film pits Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman against the evils of World War II. And in the end, Bogie shows what it means to transcend one’s own heartbreak, to make a sacrifice for the greater good. These two lead characters breakup for basically the best reason ever. They are badasses.

Why is this a good “breakup” classic movie? Because the story shows that sometimes breakups need to happen and that its ok not to end up together.

“Gone With the Wind” - The Ultimate Breakup Movie

Say what you want, Gone with the Wind remains a classic film for a reason. The defiance of Scarlett O’hara against the norms of the South, Clark Gable’s blistering swagger, the sweeping cinematography and unforgettable story make this the classic film to end all classic films. This movie has it all.

Why is this a good “breakup” classic movie?Well, it has the most iconic breakup line of all time.

Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday”

For a classic movie with heart and whimsy, look no further. The story follows a bored princess (played by Audrey Hepburn) who escapes her sheltered life and falls for an American journalist in one of the most romantic cities on Earth.

Why is this a good “breakup” classic movie?Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck show us why being a princess can actually be really heartbreaking.

Laurence Olivier in “Wuthering heights”

This tortured love story makes you want to beat your head against a wall sometimes. But it also was birthed from the classic novel which gave diehard romantics this classic line: “My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary.”

Why is this a good “breakup” classic movie? Your real-life frustrations can be soothed via vicarious rants. How can she not end up with Heathcliff together after saying something like that?!?!??! Especially a Heathcliff portrayed by Laurence Olivier!?!?

“King Kong”

Even classic movie apes feel heartbreak. You can’t help but feel for King Kong as he climbs a skyscraper in search of his true love, Fay Wray.

Why is this a good “breakup” classic movie?

This classic film reminds us that the heart wants what the heart wants. Poor King Kong can never get the girl.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Before you condemn this as a strange addition to the list, ask yourself how you would feel if your significant other had been taken over by some weird, scary, body-snatching alien host.

Why is this a good “breakup” classic movie?

This is an especially good choice for those who feel their exes have turned into creeps of various kinds. Dana Wynter is pretty creepy.

Classic Movies WHERE You Watch Others Go Crazy So You Don’t HAVE TO (View With Caution)

The Red Shoes

In this classic drama, Vicky Page (Moira Shearer) is an aspiring ballerina torn between her dedication to her art and desire to find love. Because, in classic movies, these two things can never seem to co-exist for some reason.

Why is this a good “breakup” classic movie?

Most of us have had career dreams break up a relationship at some point or another. This classic film is alllll about that.

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Gloria Swanson “Sunset Boulevard”

Before there was Fatal Attraction there was Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. This movie has some incredible jaw-dropping moments, and one can’t help but be fiercely loyal to Norma Desmond, in-spite of her… errrr…eccentricities.

Why is this a good “breakup” classic movie?

Because Norma Desmond. That is all.

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca”

If you find yourself in a downward spiral, thinking over your ex’s new significant other, watch this movie. No, seriously, put down Instagram. Stalking your ex enjoying gluten-free ice cream with his/her new lover is going to do you no good. Watch this this splendid Hitchcock thriller instead.

Why is this a good “breakup” classic movie?

Because it will make you wonder if that new person in your ex’s life is as much of a triumph as they seem.

A Classic Movie That Is Sure To Cheer You Up

You need at least one movie to remind you that being single is more than all right.

Julie Andrews in “Mary Poppins”

The supernanny with the mostest, Mary Poppins, comes with the most stylish carpet bag a girl could ask for, a sidekick (her trusty parrot cane) and quick wit.

Why is this a good “breakup” classic movie?

Because Mary Poppins is single, and quite content to be so.

Movies, above all other things, cathartic. When done right, they give us a way to meditate, evaulate, and even relive the most important experiences in our lives.

I hope this classic films help you get through this tough time, and straight on to healing. Did I miss any gems from the Golden Age of Hollywood that should be included on this list? If so, please comment below!

In the meantine, whatever heartbreak you are facing — you got this!!!!

don’t let your journey end here! continue your exploration into the heart of classic hollywood…