Weekly Feature


Valentine’s Day: Love on Film

February 10, 2009
by findingDulcinea Staff
Romantic movies can captivate everyone, from weepy women to tough guys. Today, we take a look at the most memorable romantic movies, lists made by some venerable film organizations and multimedia to engage your softer side—or just make you laugh.

Long Live the ’80s

You know the recipe: a little John Cusack, Tom Hanks, Patrick Swayze or Julia Roberts, mixed in with some weddings, twists of fate, and torrential downpours, and you have yourself about a dozen romantic flicks from the ’80s. Add a killer soundtrack, a taboo relationship and some scandalous dancing, and you have the model of many modern teen romances: "Dirty Dancing." With the help of YouTube, we take a look back at some of the most heartrending movie scenes of the decade of big hair.

Spoiler alert! The triumphant final scene of "Dirty Dancing" is known for its bizarre mélange of ’50s setting with ’80s fashion, music, and dancing. It’s romantic because the taboo couple, Jonny and Baby, with tastes too racy for their day, finally overcome the status quo and dance the night away—their way. The movie is much beloved by the children of the ‘80s and their patient parents, and it remains a staple of many budding moviegoers’ diets.

John Cusack’s finest hour of the ’80s was in “Say Anything”. In this famous scene, Cusack convinces us that there are emotional men in the world by playing a Peter Gabriel song on a boom box outside the window of his true love’s house. It’s Romeo and Juliet—with a little Splenda added.

It was made in the ’90s, but “Sleepless in Seattle” deserves the same kind of accolades as the ’80s flicks (and pop cultural evidence suggests that the ’80s didn’t actually end until about 1993.) In this clip Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks’s real-life wife, who plays his friend in the movie, breaks down in tears as she describes the ’50s romance "An Affair to Remember.

The Classics

“An Affair to Remember”, starring iconic leading man Cary Grant, was just one of numerous successful romances. Other winners from the years thought by many to be a golden age in cinema, include the Preston Sturges romantic comedy, “The Lady Eve,” Alfred Hitchcock’s “Notorious” (another Grant lead), David Lean’s “Brief Encounter,” “Sabrina,” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” But what made these films romances, besides the use of soaring violin scores, romantic ballads like “Moon River,” and passionate cliffhangers and endings?

In this era, kissing in American movies was polite, but the tasteful depictions only helped solidify these movies in our hearts. Moving obliquely around adult matters let viewers focus on more interesting parts of the film: dialogue, plot, costume and set design, and music.

High fashion stole the spotlight in many movies from this era, especially romances. Audrey Hepburn’s wardrobe, for instance, was a work of art, no matter what film she was in, featuring extraordinary haute couture designs mixed with her own spunky flair. Visit the “Photo Gallery” section for hundreds more photographs of the lovely Audrey on and off the set. The brains behind the operation was Academy Award-winning costume designer Edith Head. Take a look at her massive filmography at the All-Movie Guide.)

Hepburn was featured in numerous romantic hits, including one of the historical heavyweights, 1956’s “War and Peace.” Like “Gone with the Wind” before it (1941) and “Dr. Zhivago” after it (1965), “War and Peace” was a sweeping epic that interweaved Tolstoy’s meticulous documenting of military activity with failed romances, affairs, and lovers separated or united by class, war and other circumstances—as well as fabulous costume design.

Making the List

CNN’s the Screening Room gives us the ten most romantic moments in cinema. As a bonus, the Room also lists ten most cringeworthy moments in film, including some obscure B-movies you might have missed.

The American Film Institute’s 100 top romantic movies is a brilliant compilation of all the cheesiest, corniest, and most sophisticated romance movies of the past century.

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