Over the Top Melodramatic Movies

Melodrama films are a subgenre of drama films that are characterized by a plot that appeals to the heightened emotions of the audience. Overacting and an emotional soundtrack combined make for movie magic. Here are just a few of the best. 

All That Heaven Allows (1955)
A tearjerker about small-town conformity depicts the relationship between a wealthy widow and her young gardener. She falls for him, much to the chagrin of her spoiled children and superficial country club companions. Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman star.

Imitation of Life (1959)
Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life, which follows two widows and their daughters as they struggle against racial prejudice. Lana Turner and Louise Beavers star.

Brief Encounter (1945)
Unconsummated love in the British suburbs between strangers at a railway station. Lots of longing looks and unspoken lust. Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson star.

Mildred Pierce (1945)
Nobody did weepy camp like Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce. One daughter dead, one daughter gone bad, a dead husband, and a beach house. What more can you ask? 

Wuthering Heights (1939)
Emily Brontë’s tale of tragic love and angst on the moors. Everyone suffers because Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon cannot survive without, or with, the other.

The Women (1939)
Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Roslyn Russell, Joan Fontaine, and more. There isn’t one man in this movie, perfect melodramatic fare. We see several catfights, gossip, divorce, and, oh, the romance.

An Affair to Remember (1957)
Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr fall in love on a cruise and decide to meet six months later, each separated from their entanglements, prepared to live a life without wealth, when a tragic accident occurs. It’s pure, wonderful saccharin.


Magnificent Obsession (1956)
Reckless playboy Bob Merrick crashes his speedboat, requiring the only resuscitator, while beloved Dr. Phillips dies without it. Merrick tries to right the wrongs and falls in love with the widow. Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman star.

Dark Victory (1939)
Bette Davis is a wild child that discovers she has an inoperable brain tumor. So she changes her wicked ways, marries her doctor, and dies nobly.

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
A young socialite’s obsessive love threatens to ruin the lives of a writer, his brother, and her sister. Oh, the list is endless. Gene Tierney and Cornell Wilde star.