We’ve discussed romantic movies here several times, most recently in Jean’s March 2012 blog. Many of the films we talk about are popular, something we most likely have all seen or at least heard of. However, a recent viewing of a movie I literally stumbled across while searching for something else had me thinking of films that sit quietly waiting to be discovered. I don’t know that the movies are obscure so much as just not often discussed and therefore often hard to find (or at least, find out about).
A romantic movie doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic comedy, although all the films listed below do contain that element. It does have to have a couple actually falling in love, though. Too many films meant to be romances lack actual romance. And for me, if the couple is going to be doing battle I’d prefer it to be of the sweet and zany variety. Downright cruelty, such as that highlighted in The Ugly Truth starring Katherine Heigl, doesn’t appeal to me.
The humor can be subtle – a smile can work every bit as good as a laugh. And the love story can be as sweet and silent as a snowflake. And like Sleepless in Seattle I don’t need a complete HEA, the promise of a future one is enough.
With all that in mind, here is my list of “sleeper” romances:
Bachelor Mother (1939) David Niven, Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers finds a baby about to fall off a set of stairs in front of an orphanage. A series of misunderstandings has her raising the child as a single mother in a time not very compassionate to that situation. Adding to the zaniness is David Niven, who owns the store where she works and who finds himself falling for mother and child.
Pillow Talk (1959) Rock Hudson, Doris Day
One of the first romantic comedies I ever saw, this gem of a film revolves around an old glitch of technology – the party line. Jan, a successful interior decorator and Brad, a successful composer, both live in New York. They share a telephone line on which Brad is constantly wooing women. He sings the same song to different girls, changing the name and language to keep from forgetting who he is currently seducing. Jan, increasingly frustrated by Brad’s hogging the line, begins telling on him and a feud is born. Hijinks, hilarity and love ensue.
Charade (1963) Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn
Proving that shiver inducing mystery, danger and laughter can all occur in one film is this 1963 classic starring Cary Grant. Audrey Hepburn is a widow whose husband was keeping a dark secret. That secret leads to her having five men chasing her, with four of them wanting her dead. But who is that wants her alive? The French police captain plays this one for some wonderful laughs, most especially the theme regarding Americans dying in their pajamas.
Simply Irresistible (1999) Sarah Michelle Geller, Sean Patrick Flanery
This utterly charming film centers around Amanda, who inherits her late mother’s restaurant, but unfortunately lacks the skill to cook. The patrons desert the establishment in search of meals they can actually eat and Amanda is looking at foreclosure. A mysterious and possibly magical man she meets at the market claims to have been a friend of her mothers and sells her a special batch of crabs. One of the crabs, who manages to escape and avoid being cooked, brings culinary magic into Amanda’s life, helping her to change the world around her and fall in love.
Dear Frankie (2004) Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler
Gerard Butler looks like he would be the perfect romantic hero, doesn’t he? But while he totally won my heart in this film, he just about broke it in The Ugly Truth and The Bounty Hunter. This quiet, sweet film has him playing a gruff but beautifully compassionate and kind hero to Emily Mortimer’s desperate single mom. The story ends with hope even if it doesn’t have a traditional HEA.
Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing & Charm School (2005) Marissa Tomei, Robert Carlyle
This heartwarming film captures the magic and promise of first love and pits it against the warmth of second chances. In the 6os Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing is a booming business teaching adolescent children fine manners and smooth dance moves. In the 21st century it is a small group of rather sad people looking for a place to go through the motions of life. When a series of unfortunate coincidences land baker Frank Keane at the dance school it transforms his life and changes the course of the class forever. Tomei and Carlyle bring magic to an ordinary love story.
There are many other romantic movies that I really like but didn’t include simply because of their fame. You’ve Got Mail is in my mind pretty darn far from obscure. Bride and Prejudice is a film I love but I have heard it discussed often enough on our boards that I didn’t feel right including it on a list of buried treasures.
Now it’s your turn: Do you have any favorite romantic movies that seem to never get discussed?
– Maggie Boyd