Great romantic films have a way of emotionally connecting with audiences that other
genres lack. They are able to capture audiences across generations and are able to make people happy or make people cry. Romantic heroes and heroines seem
to live on forever in the way that their love is implied to. It’s one of the oldest genres of film, really it’s the basis of centuries worth of great plays before film existed. Today, I will be covering the first five romance movies I’ve seen from the list.
Seen to date: 16 out of 50
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Starring: James Stewart, Margaret Sullivan and Frank Morgan
In Budapest during the 1930s, Alfred Kralik (Stewart) works in a gift shop (which is located ‘around the corner’). He is currently having a pen-pal relationship with his dream girl. Meanwhile, Miss Klara Novak (Sullivan) gets a job at the shop and gets off on the wrong foot with Alfred. Six months later, their working relationship is even rockier, but Alfred’s pen-pal romance has grown even more loving. When Alfred agrees to
meet his pen-pal face-to-face, he is shocked when he realizes that he is meeting Klara and stands her up. He is undecided as to how to proceed with his working and written relationships.
If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail, you might like The Shop Around the Corner as
the former is a remake of the latter. James Stewart is wonderful as the romantically inclined shop manager. The story of star-crossed anonymous lovers seems timeless and holds up over 70 years later.
My Rating – 3.5 Ticket Stubs (Out of 5)
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 100% (23 Reviews)
Director: Michael Curtiz
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains
Academy Award Wins – Best Picture, Best Director (Curtiz), Best Writing, Screenplay
AFI Top 100 – #2 (1998) #3 (2007)
Wartime refugees in search of freedom escape to Casablanca. Most find their way to Rick’s Café run by American Rick Blaine (Bogart), who helps refugees acquire the necessary
paperwork. He gets his hands on two such documents before an underground leader and his wife Ilsa (Bergman) show up. Rick and Ilsa are former lovers and now he has a chance to turn her husband over to the SS and flee with the girl.
Casablanca is one of the most celebrated films of all-time and a personal favorite of mine. The American Film Institute listed in the top 3 of its top 100 in both versions. Even
if you haven’t seen it, you’re likely familiar with some of the most famous lines which include:
“Here’s looking at you kid.”
“Louis I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
“Round up the usual suspects.”
“We’ll always have Paris.”
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
My Rating – 5 Ticket Stubs
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 97% (59 Reviews)
Director: Blake Edwards
Starring: Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard
Academy Award Wins – Best Music, Original Score and Best Original Score
Holly Golightly (Hepburn) left her life as a young farm wife in Texas behind in favor of a luxurious life in New York. If she is ever feeling blue, she takes herself to Tiffany’s. Any hint of a real relationship terrifies her, especially when she starts to grow fond of her new
Hepburn’s Holly Golightly with her huge sunglasses, black dress and gloves, cigarette holder and pearls has become one of the most iconic female characters of all-time and of her epic career. But ironically, Hepburn always felt miscast as Holly (a role originally
offered to Marilyn Monroe). One stain on the legacy of this film was the casting of Mickey Rooney as Holly’s Asian landlord, which many view as offensive.
My Rating – 3 Ticket Stubs
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 88% (49 Reviews)
Love Story (1970)
Director: Arthur Hiller
Starring: Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal
Academy Award Wins – Best Music, Original Score
Oliver Barrett IV (O’Neal) is a law student at Harvard who meets Jenny Cavalleri (MacGraw) a music student at Radcliffe. They are constantly at each other’s throats,
until one long kiss reveals a deep love. Jenny intends to leave for Paris, until Oliver proposes. Oliver’s affluent father is less than pleased and cuts off the couple financially. The newlyweds preserve and then tragedy strikes.
Love Story is one of the most recognizable romance movies of the 1970s and was placed 9th on the American Film Institute’s list of best Romance movies. It’s most famous line, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry” immediately entered the pop-culture lexicon. Also, its Academy Award winning score helps make the movie.
My Rating – 3 Ticket Stubs
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 59% (22 Reviews)
The Way We Were (1964)
Director: Sydney Pollack
Starring: Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford
Academy Award Wins – Best Music, Original Score and Best Music,
Katie Morosky (Streisand) and Hubbell Gardner (Redford) meet at
university. They are from completely backgrounds. She’s a jewish, political
activist and he’s a protestant who wants to be a writer. Between the two is an underlying attraction, but neither follows up. Eventually their paths cross again and they start a romance. They get married and move to LA where Hubbell will be adapted one of his
novels into a movie. When Katie’s political activism threatens Hubbell’s career, they decide to separate.
The Way We Were is a classic love story about opposites attracting.
Streisand (who was nominated for an Academy Award) and Redford are two
of the biggest movie stars of all-time and they share the screen in an
excellent balance. It’s one of those movies that suffered at the pens of the critics initially, but was loved by movie goers.
My Rating – 2.5 Ticket Stubs
Rotten Tomatoes Score – 63% (19 Reviews)
Next up is the rest of the 16 romance “Must-See” movies, I’ve seen
starting with Annie Hall.