29 Best Chick Flick Tear Jerkers

imitation of life2Last night…late last night I was flipping through the 400 channels of nothing on cable TV when I spotted a familiar scene from an old movie.

It was the last 10 minutes of one of my favorite tear-jerkers Imitation of Life, starring Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, Sandra Dee, Susan Kohner and John Gavin.

I will not bore you with the details of the old-fashioned plot line. If you have never seen this 1959 melodrama, I am sorry for the spoiler. It’s the story of two single mother’s raising their daughters in the 1950′s.

Lana Turner is a struggling actress whose success means she spends less time with her daughter, played by Sandra Dee. Juanita Moore, plays Annie Johnson and her mulatto (fair-skinned) daughter, whose desire to live another life, broke her mother’s heart.  The crying start in the last scene of Annie’s (Juanita Moore) funeral makes me cry every time. How can you help yourself?

Get Out Your Tissues

This is a funeral to rival that of JFK and Princess Diana, complete with horse-drawn carriages, teary-eyed mourner, and a Dixieland band. Mahalia Jackson singing a tragic gospel song about dying, Lana Turner and Sandra Dee bawling their eyes out and being comforted by a misty-eyed John Gavin.

Every single person who appeared in the movie is crying like a baby because they loved her so much. But where is Annie’s beloved and ungrateful daughter, Sarah Jane?

Cut to the outside of the church where throngs of people watch Annie’s flower covered coffin being loaded into the hearse. Then, from out of the crowd you hear her. Wearing an old beat up coat and hat, looking downtrodden and bedraggled.

imitation of life Sara JaneIt’s Sarah Jane, coming home at last, but too late to see her long-suffering mother being laid to rest. She pushes her way through the crowd, throws open the back doors of the car and [this is part that always gets me] lays herself across her mother’s coffin to beg her forgiveness.

Oh mama, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry… John Gavin brings her into the car where Lana Turner comforts her…”Oh Miss Laura, I killed my mother“. (excuse me, I need a minute…Ok, I’m  Ok now).

I know,  this is schmaltz at it best/worst. But sometimes a girl just needs to cry and they just don’t make sad chick flicks like this any more.

It gave me the idea for this blog. A place for movies that women love. The romantic comedies, the tear-jerkers, the fairytale fantasies, the movie that stars the gorgeous man who comes to your rescue (even though you can rescue yourself). All them in one place.

What do you think? In honor of the many tears I have shed at the movies, here is my list of the saddest chick flicks. Your ideas are welcome. What movies bring a tear to your eyes?

Here is the list of my favorite tear-jerkers. I have also updated the list to include some suggestions from reader comments.

1.  Stella Dallas
Barbara Stanwick is wonderful as the tacky, but self-sacrificing mother.

2.  Imitation of Life
Two mothers from different walks of life struggle to raise their daughters.

3.  Madame X
Another Lana Turner movie and more mother’s love.

4.  Now, Voyager
Bette Davis goes from old maid to gorgeous and finds love at last.

5. Dark Victory
Bette Davis as a spoiled socialite who falls in love with a country doctor.

6. Secret Life of Bees
Dakota Fanning is all  grown up and shines as a girl who longs for the mother
who died when she was a baby. (Are we seeing a theme here? Tearjerkers & mothers)

7. Cinema Paradiso
A loving tribute to movies and the power of love. A must see for movie lovers.

8. Beaches
BFFs Bette Midler and Barbara Hersey  meet as children and continue their friendship as adults, going through life’s ups & downs together.

9.   My Dog Skip
An only child gets a dog who becomes his best friend. Let me just tell you, I saw this movie one Sunday afternoon a  few weeks after having lost my little dog. I cried so hard, I had a headache.

10. Big Fish
Finally one about fathers and sons. Tim Burton’s fantasy still brings a tear to my eye. The great British actor Albert Finney stars with Billy Crudup.

11The Notebook (added by Amanda)*
The novels of Nicholas Sparks are always to be read with a box of tissue. The say can be said for his movies. Although the book Message in a Bottle was better than the movie, it is still worth renting. The Notebook is the all-time most romantic tearjerker ever. Starring Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Gena Rowlands and James Garner.

12.  Terms of Endearment *
The relationship between a mother and daughter is put to the test.

13.  Mr. Holland’s Opus*
Richard Dryfuss stars as a music teacher who learns that his life really does have meaning.

14.  Bridges of Madison County
Meryl Streep as a lonely Midwestern housewife who falls for Clint Eastwood. The scene in the car at the red light…that’s all I’m going to say.

15. Schindler’s List
Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece about a Swedish industrialist attempt to save factory workers in Nazi Germany. Not a chick flick., but  you will shed a tear when you seen the little girl in the red coat.

16.  Glory
This one always makse men cry. “Oh yeah…you’re not crying, you just have something in your eye.”

17.  Notting Hill (added by Diane Lee)
You know how I feel about Julia Roberts.

18.  Moulin Rouge (added by Windy)
It is a sad chick flick, not to mention the fact that it is a musical. But is not one of my favorites. Although the song “Come What May” at the end of the movie is worth it.

19.  Bambi (added by Gwen)
Does anyone in a Disney movie ever have both parents?

20. Old Yeller
See #9. You know this one will send me reaching for the Advil.

21.  Where The Red Fern Grows (added by Gwen)

22.  Romeo & Juliet (1968 Zeffirelli version)
I saw this movie with a large group of friends, including my weepy cousin Gloria.  She cried so loud, I thought she was having a seizure. She did the same thing for Love Story.

23. Kramer vs. Kramer

24.  The Color Purple

25.  Legends of the Fall

26.  It’s A Wonderful Life
I love Jimmie Stewart. They always play this movie at Christmas time, but is more about appreciating our lives than about the holiday.

27.  Steele Magnolias

28.  Life Is Beautiful

29.  P.S. I Love You
Like Ghost, this movie shows us a love that surpasses death and Gerard Butler is much better in this movie than in The Ugly Truth.

Dry your eyes and tell me your favorite tearjerkers. Next week: To lift your mood and bring a smile to your face. Happy Endings. “And They Happily Ever After” Movies.

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About Clara Mathews

Clarabela (Clara Mathews) is freelance web content copywriter, professional blogger and Hugh Jackman fan. In addition to writing about her love of movies at JustChickFlicks.com, Clarabela is also a regular contributor to DignityZine.  Follow Just Chick Flicks on Facebook.


  1. Back Street, Brian’s Song

  2. I have a few to add to your list that I haven’t seen listed yet. Granted, I am a very empathetic person, but the following movies *always* move me to tears. lol

    1. Fried Green Tomatoes (Buddy & Ruth?! Oh, my heart!)
    2. Red Dawn
    3. The Man in the Moon
    4. We Were Soldiers
    5. Dead Poet’s Society
    6. Band of Brothers – not a movie, but a fantastic, emotional mini-series.

  3. Love Story!!!!!!!!

  4. Omg the notebook for sure! My dog skip too. I love watching chick flicks that make me start balling. Ryan gosling is hot!!

  5. Bsktbllgrl says:

    The Vow
    Moulin Rouge
    The Notebook
    Charlie St. Cloud
    My Girl- cry every time I see it :’(
    Country Strong
    Dear John
    The curious case of benjamin button
    Flight plan- not really sad but a good movie
    Glory Roads- ”
    Ps I love you
    The Bucket List
    Jack Frost

  6. Rob23071991 says:

    I would like to add one to the mix; 50/50

    It is mainly a comedy, but it definitely has its moments especially if you have lost someone through cancer, or been around cancer in some way shape or form like I have.

    And another few would have to be; The Last Kiss, The Pursuit of Happyness (already been said) and Seven Pounds (which has also already been said).

    I have over 1000+ films and i have seen many more besides, but these 4 are the only films i have ever seen that have ever made me cry.

    If you haven’t seen any of them then I beg you to watch them and tell me I am wrong. I bet you can’t.

  7. Lucy :) says:

    A walk to remember
    The notebook
    Pearl Harbour
    Message in a Bottle
    The lakehouse
    the last song
    dear john
    p.s i love you
    remember me
    letters to juliet
    the blind side
    Pursuit of Happiness
    new years eve
    the vow
    romeo and juliet
    marley and me
    charlie st cloud
    500 days of summer
    one day
    my sisters keeper

    there are so many more but these are the ones just off the top of my head, sorry about the length but seriously if you want to watch a tear jerker then start with these i love every single one of them, however i am an emotional wreck when i watch films like this so some you may not cry at. Anyways …. ENJOY !!

  8. This list is fantastic! Another tear jerker I Absolutely Love that I do not see posted below by anyone is “Autumn In New York”. Fantastic and oh so sad love story. A must see for sure if you have never seen it!! Keep the tissue box very close by!!! ;)

  9. Add 7 pounds to your list, major tear jerker…

  10. Ghost218 says:

    The Painted Veil, even though long time movie watchers may call the ending, everyone ends up crying at the end. You can find it on YouTube, but it is an amazing story (based off of true events if I’m not mistaken). I’ve never cried at a movie as hard as I did to this one (and I don’t cry at movies).

  11. I know hundreds of good films but can only think of a few:
    A Walk To Remember-makes me cry everytime! and my boyfriend even liked it!
    Walk The Line- a great storyline.
    Saving Grace
    P.S. I Love You
    My Sister’s Keeper
    Pursuit Of Happiness

  12. This is a great post!! I haven’t seen some of these movies and will need to add them to my Netfilx account. I am visiting from 31DBBB.

  13. I agree with: Beaches (definitely) and It’s a Wonderful Life (not really supposed to be a cryfest but how can you not tear up at the end where everyone is singing and his brother flies home is a snowstorm…) and Kramer vs. Kramer. Also – P.S. I Love You (which I went to see alone because I knew I was going to cry buckets – reminded me too much of my cousin who passed away at the age of 35 and left his 29-year old wife and 3-month old son).

    Here are a few of my picks: A River Runs Through It (I’m not a Brad Pitt fan but this is a great flick); Casablanca (of course); My Girl; Love Story (I mean seriously I cannot think of a movie more designed to break you up than that…unless it’s P.S. I Love You!); An Affair to Remember…

    Well I know there are more but that’s all I can come up with for now…

    • The Last Song gets me everytime. Miley Cyrus is the main girl, which I don’t really like her, but even so I live this movie.

      A Walk To Remember. It’s such an amazing movie.

  14. Fantastic list! Just finished “Imitation of Life” and the tears were definitely flowing.

    • Clarabela says:

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. If you like Imitation of Life, you should see Lana Turner in Madame X. Warning: Have some tissues ready.

  15. I don’t normally cry at movies. I’m a big tough hardhearted chick! (Whatever) Anyway, I really don’t cry at movies but the one that made me sob was Moulin Rouge. I know! Moulin Rouge? How can that be above Schindler’s List? I guess it’s the way that Ewan McGregor sobs uncontrollably with Nicole Kidman’s head in his lap on the stage. Too much for me to handle!

  16. I love Notting Hill… while it does have a happy ending, it never fails to make me cry!

  17. Movies that always kill me??

    Without fail my #1 favorite tearjerker is The Notebook! Terms of Endearment is always a killer as well as Mr. Holland’s Opus. E.T. still kills me after all these years and Schindler’s List is a butt-kicker too.

    Braveheart always gets me on those two scenes…you know the ones…she gives him the flower when his father dies and in adulthood he gives it back because he hung onto it so many years?? Kills me every time…

    So many…but those are up there at the top!

  18. LOVE IT! Laughed out loud at “excuse me….I need a minute”. You’ve got me thinking, which I think is part of the fun, of what my favorite tear jerkers would be. Keep up the good work!

    Some of my favorites:
    The 2 that started it all…..Bambi and Old Yeller
    Where The Red Fern Grows
    Romeo & Juliet (1968 Zeffirelli version)
    Cinema Paradisio
    Kramer vs Kramer
    The Color Purple
    Terms of Endearment
    Bridges of Madison County
    Legends of The Fall
    Shindler’s List (so sad I’ll never watch it again)
    2 terribly sad ones that have lessened because of over exposure:
    It’s A Wonderful Life and Steele Magnolias
    Life Is Beautiful
    The Joy Luck Club
    Better stop now. I’m getting depressed!

  19. No one mentioned “My Life” with a cancer ridden Michael Keaton with his pregnant wife, Nicole Kidman. This is an UGLY sob movie. Sense and sensibility is also on my list.


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