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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A couple of romantic movie faves

by Terry McLaughlin

If Omar Khayyam had lived in the age of the video rental, he might have phrased his famous lines differently: a bag of popcorn, a can of soda, and thou beside me on the sofa...watching An Affair to Remember for the tenth time.

There are few things that put me in a romantic mood--or inspire my storytelling--as effectively as a good romantic film. The Philadelphia Story, Moonstruck, Sabrina, When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, Baby Boom, American Dreamer, Roxanne, Something's Gotta Give...I have too many favorites to list here and not enough space for the oohs and ahhs and happy sighs. If you want more recommendations, you may enjoy browsing the lists at sites such as The Romance Reader or the American Film Institute.

Two of my favorites are older films that generally aren't well known, and it's these I'd like to share with you.

Set during World War II, Father Goose takes place in the South Pacific. Cary Grant plays a curmudgeonly bum who's marooned on an island, given the code name "Mother Goose," and bribed with whiskey to watch for Japanese planes. His situation worsens when he rescues a French schoolmistress, played by Leslie Caron, and seven of her young charges--all girls. The females quickly "borrow" Grant out of his food, his clothes, his hut, and his peace of mind.

Grant and Caron engage in a battle of wills and wit that's a delight to watch (the film won an Academy Award for its clever screenplay). However, since this is a romance, the inevitable ensues:

British sailor: Sir! Mother Goose is requesting a chaplain!
British officer: A chaplain? Good heavens, he's killed her!
Sailor: No sir, they want to get married!
Officer: Married? Goody Two-Shoes and the Filthy Beast?

A Little Romance offers an Academy Award-winning score and settings in Paris, Verona, and Venice. This bittersweet film about first love features Laurence Olivier and Diane Lane (in her film debut). Olivier plays an elderly con man who tells a young couple about a legend: if two lovers kiss in a gondola under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset, as the bells of the campanile ring, they'll be together forever. With Olivier in tow--to get them across the border--the couple set out to make the legend true.

One of the things I like best about this film is the way the intelligent young people at the heart of the story engage in an achingly real, thought-provoking discussion about love and commitment--and about how very, very lucky they are to have found each other. I dare you to watch the magical kiss scene near the end of the movie without tearing up--just a little.

I've shared a couple of my favorites with you. Now it's your turn to share--what are your favorite romantic films?


At 10:24 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I just checked some lists of Top Romantic Movies of All Time and am shocked that some are so modern. In this age of HBO and Cinemax, I think the younger generations miss some truly wonderful romantic movies, the ones I watched on late night TV or went to the movies to see.

Casablanca has to be on my list. So romantic, those ill-fated lovers who would "always have Paris."

A Man and A Woman. I'll bet few of you ever saw this French movie, but, in my youth, it had everything that a romance movie should have, including a happy ending.

It Happened One Night - Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Wonderful banter, great story, daringly sexy for its day.

West Side Story. Omigosh. Cried every time I saw it, which now has to be about 17 times, probably about 6 of those in a theater.

Splendor in the Grass with Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood. All the angst of young love and sexual yearning.

Bringing Up Baby with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. Over the top funny, with the extra added bonus of featuring a cat.

And I have to include Phantom of the Opera, my only "modern" movie. Gerald Butler does a tortured hero like you would not believe, all the while singing. The scene on the Opera House roof when he overhears Christine and Raoul falling in love - amazing.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

OH, I love all the movies that you mentioned, Terry. I have always adored Cary Grant. I used to love all the Rock Hudson and Doris Day movies, too! For newer movies I love Briget Jones Diary. I've watched that many times. Romancing the Stone always make me smile.

These all bring back some great memories. Thanks, Terry!

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Diane--I used to teach a Film Studies class to high school students (fun!--I got to introduce them to so many gems), and one of their favorites was It Happened One Night.

Theresa, Cary Grant is my personal favorite. I feel so dated when others go on and on about the contemporary actors they enjoy watching--I love watching the "black & white" guys.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Janga said...

The classics from the 30s and 40s are my favorites too. I love It Happened One Night and Bringing Up Baby. Others at the top of my list are The Philadelphia Story(Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn again with Jimmy Stewart added to make the best love-triangle film ever); The Shop Around the Corner (I liked You’ve Got Mail too, but I like the original even better.); The Awful Truth (This is not as well known as the others, but with Cary Grant as hero, a second-chance-at-love plot, and a custody battle for a dog, it’s a delight).

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Merrillee said...

Most of my favorites are newer movies. I just don't remember the older ones. :) I did like the old Rock Hudson and Doris Day movies, but I couldn't tell you the names of any of them or even the stories. I also liked the old Gidget movies when I was young.

Some of my favorite newer movies (although some not that new) are The Good-bye Girl, Officer and a Gentleman, Cutting Edge, While You Were Sleeping, Overboard, French Kiss, and Fever Pitch (Love the Red Sox).

I'm sure there are others, but these are the first to come to mind.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Rebecca said...

In the same wonderful Cary Grant of my absolute favorites is the comedy Indiscreet with Ingrid Bergman. Also, People Will Talk, starring Grant as an obstetrician/professor who falls in love with one of his students (Jeanne Craine) who is unwed and pregnant, very edgy at the time. It is an interesting, unexpected story with Grant at his sexiest.

Another one of my old favorites, which I found several years ago on someone's Favorite Romantic Movies List, is a 1945 movie called I Know Where I'm Going. It's about a determined young woman (the great Wendy Hiller) who goes to the bleak Scottish Hebrides to marry a rich lord and meets a poor naval officer who (as Netflix puts it) "threatens to spoil her carefully laid-out life plans".

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

This is so much fun :-)! Janga--thanks for the recommendation on The Awful Truth. I've never seen it, and now I can hardly wait to find it :-).

Merrillee, one of my all-time faves is The Goodbye Girl (the first version, with Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason). I did a blog post on that one last year. Fabulous first kiss scene ("your lips may say no, no, but there's yes, yes, in your eyes").

Rebecca--Indiscreet :-)! Ahh, yes. Another fave of mine--so much fun :-). I'll have to look for People Will Talk.

My favorite Doris Day movie: That Touch of Mink, with...Cary Grant. So many wonderful Cary Grant movies. Happy sighs.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Great list here! An Affair to Remember is one of my favorites. And The Philadelphia Story and It Happened One Night are great too. The Quiet Man - one of the few John Wayne movies that can be called a romance. Talk about an alpha hero. And the entire village is chock full of wonderful characters.

I also love Kate and Leopold with Hugh Jackman and Meg Ryan. Another Hugh Jackman movie that is truly romantic but didn't get much press is The Fountain.

Oooh and how about Camille with Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor ? Great, great movie! I have a soft spot for it as my co-star and I watched it together when we were rehearsing La Traviata. His performance was magnificent and in the finale - the death scene he was so fabulous he had ME in tears and I was the one dying! LOL

At 6:27 PM, Blogger MJFredrick said...

Pride and Prejudice, any version, is number one.

Two Weeks Notice, While You Were Sleeping, Singles are all on my DVD shelf.

I do love Cary Grant movies. His Girl Friday is one of my favorites.

Mostly I like my romance mixed in-my favorite movie is The Mummy, because of the romance. Speed is another, and Pirates of the Caribbean. My favorite Claudette Colbert movie is So Proudly We Hail, about a nurse who falls for a soldier on Corrigador. GREAT movie. And the Aldo Ray part of Battle Cry, when he falls for the girl from New Zealand...sigh!

At 6:30 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hi, Louisa :-)! Isn't The Quiet Man a wonderful film? I like it more each time I see it.

Another film I appreciate more with each peek is Kate & Leopold. I think I had a tough time getting past Meg Ryan's haircut (and character) the first time I saw it ;-).

Loved your story about La Traviata :-).

At 6:30 PM, Blogger janegeorge said...

I got over here late.

I second Diane with It Happened One Night and Bringing Up Baby.

For a newer movie I think You've Got mail has an almost pitch perfect screenplay.

But my current romantic fave is last year's Penelope. I just adore that little movie.

I've added father Goose and A Little Romance to the Netflix cue to watch with my 12 yr old daughter. Thanks!!

At 6:32 PM, Blogger janegeorge said...

Oh, and I'm a day late with this one, but I love the million and one chances to get it right in Groundhog Day.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Hi, MJ :-)! The best parts of movies for me are always the "love interest" parts ;-). I think that's why I was so thrilled when I discovered--far too late in life!--romance novels. Nothing but the best parts--heavenly :-).

As for mixed-in romance, I enjoyed the bits in the Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies.

I'm going to have to keep an eye out for Battle Cry--that sounds great :-).

At 6:38 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Oh, Penelope! I wanted to see that when it was first released, but it left town before I could get to the theater. Thanks, Jane, for the reminder to search for it on video :-).

Groundhog Day is such a fun romance--love that story idea!

At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bridget jones
the notebook

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Karen said...


I can't believe you mentioned "A Little Romance." What a wonderful movie! Olivier was magnificent and the youngsters a delight. Not many people are familiar with the film, but I think everyone should see it!

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Ladyhawk said...

Eep, late, but wanted to chime in as well. Definitely Quiet Man, and Cary Grant's I Was A Male War Bride and While You Were Sleeping are all fun ones.
Return to Snowy River - cute hero and gorgeous horses. 'Nough said.
Ladyhawke - Young Rutger Hauer and gorgeous horse. Yes, a theme there. :-)

At 6:36 PM, Blogger Dianna Love said...

Terry - I love getting new movie suggestions and will take these home.
[traveling right now]

More good choices on the blog posts, too. I think we were talking about the original Romeo and Juliet here the other day - that was such an amazing movie for its time and I still remember so many parts of it. I think that's what sent me on a quest for Happily Ever After stories.

I can never remember the title of anything when I try to, but I did love Romancing the Stone and Pretty Woman (though I've seen that way too many times since Mary and I use it in the Break Into Fiction workshops). I thought American Gigolo with Richard Gere was an "edgy" romance. Officer and a Gentleman was another favorite.

Can't think of more right now.


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