Thursday 25 December 2014

Top Ten Romantic Movies

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The Graduate - 1967

'Elaine! Elaine! Elaine!' It's the interrupted wedding scene to end them all. Dustin Hoffman's screams to bride Katharine Ross are racked with a desperation that borders on mania. And it's not just romantic - it's deep. The lost dream of the late 1960s, the battle of cynical middle-age against youthful idealism, the timeless appeal of a bright red Alfa Spider - all are bound up in this peerless finale to a lyrical and life-affirming film. 'It's too late,' smiles her mother, Mrs Robinson. 'Not for me,' says Elaine. Exit the lovers on an unforgettable bus-ride to ambiguity.

Simon and Garfunkel singing 'Are you going to Scarborough Fair?'

Casablanca - 1942

'You must remember this...' could stand as a motto for this golden-age Hollywood triumph, an endlessly immersive tale of wartime intrigue and thwarted amour. Bogart and Bergman are beyond incomparable, and the happy-accident screenplay collaboration is the stuff of legend.

Simply the most memorable farewell in the history of farewells. 'Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor... If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life...'

An Officer and a Gentleman - 1982

He's an officer. He's a gentleman. And, let's not forget, he's a lovva. John Travolta turned down the role of the ne'er-do-well trainee fighter pilot redeemed by Debra Winger, and good thing too. He lacks the hardness that we have to see the character shedding, wouldn't have cut such a dash as Richard Gere in his white outfit, and would have been effortlessly outshone in the looks department by his smouldering belle.

Winger is in her dismal factory; Gere, in full dress uniform, strides in and sweeps her off her feet. The definitive romantic image.

Gone with the Wind - 1939

With the American Civil War as an expansive backdrop, and enough famous set-pieces to win eight Oscars, this epic is still a simple love story at heart, though arguably it is more about the power of sex than the mysteries of love. Vivien Leigh's petulant Scarlett O'Hara is a terrible pain, but Clark Gable's Rhett Butler is besotted, witty and wise enough to make his kicking down of the bedroom door an act of passion rather than brutality.

Rhett to Scarlett as they kiss and she says she will faint: 'I want you to faint. This is what you were meant for.'

Dirty Dancing - 1987

A generation of teenage girls were obsessed with this Emile Ardolino film. It's the ultimate female adolescent romance: smart-but-plain daddy's girl (Jennifer Grey's 'Baby') has sexual – and rhythmic – awakening with chiselled holiday resort dance teacher (Patrick Swayze's Johnny). It's 1963 and, away from the family activities, Baby is mesmerised by a below stairs world where the staff bump, grind and lose themselves in sensuous R&B rhythms. Baby saves Johnny from a lack of self-worth. He saves her from the foxtrot.

'Nobody puts Baby in the corner,' says Johnny, and leads her on stage for the dance of her life.

When Harry Met Sally - 1989

'We could never be friends,' announces Harry smugly. 'Men and women can never be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.' Sally – a fresh, fluffy, all-American ditz – disagrees; 11 years and several regrettable hair-dos later, they're still arguing the point. Nora Ephron's script, zinging with one-liners and verbal sparring, crystallises an imperishable core issue in the war between the sexes; Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal update Hepburn and Tracy in style.

The climactic new year's eve party where Sally wails: 'Harry, you say things that make it impossible for me to hate you, and I hate you, Harry, I really hate you.'

Titanic - 1997

James Cameron's $200 million account of the world's worst shipping disaster is also a classic tale of doomed love across the social divide. On an ocean liner bound for the States, a bored young English aristocrat (Rose, played by a ravishing Kate Winslet) discovers her soulmate in Jack, a penniless Irish charmer (Leonardo DiCaprio). But it's not just the class system that's against them – a 500,000-ton iceberg strikes a hole in the ship, and their passionate affair is sunk.

'Promise me you'll survive,' stammers the near-dead Jack as they float in the freezing North Atlantic. Rose clutches his hand: 'I'll never let go, Jack, I'll never let go.'

Lost in Translation - 2003

Sofia Coppola's postmodern Brief Encounter is full of unspoken, low-key longing and tentative open spaces, proving that in romance, less is often more. It brings Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson together by chance as guests in a Tokyo hotel. Cut adrift from their normal lives and partners, they shyly, slowly come to recognise each other as kindred spirits. Darting through neon streets, holding hands, singing karaoke – nothing happens, but everything happens. It's wonderful. If you haven't seen it yet, go tonight.

They're falling asleep after talking all night. He holds her foot.

Breakfast at Tiffany's - 1961

Purists maintain that the cinematic version of Truman Capote's novel is a bowdlerised travesty. Few, these days, read Breakfast at Tiffany's, but we keep watching the film. It transformed a slight, amoral tale into a poignant love story where two lost souls, Audrey Hepburn's high-class call girl Holly Golightly, and George Peppard's failed writer, find each other in high-chic bohemian New York. Forty years later, every girl still wants to be an Audrey-style Cinderella walking down Fifth Avenue in a Givenchy dress.

The kiss at the end in the rain with the cat.

True Romance - 1993

It took Quentin Tarantino five years to find backing and a director (Tony Scott) for his first, most personal, script. An update of Badlands, Tarantino admits it is also the romantic fantasy of a single 25-year-old 'movie geek'. Thus, Patricia Arquette's endearingly ditzy trailer-trash blonde (Alabama) shares a love of kung-fu movies and Elvis with Clarence (Christian Slater). As their cocaine deal-of-a-lifetime goes wrong, the film bursts into a symphony of violence, and we root for this 'real cute couple' to make it out alive.

Alabama purrs: 'I feel real goofy saying this, me being a call girl and all, but I think I love you.'

(In no particular order)

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