Saturday 7 December 2019

The 14 Greatest Movie Pairings of all time

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh sizzled in 'Gone with the Wind'
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh sizzled in 'Gone with the Wind'
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in 'Cleopatra'
Robert Redford and Paul Newman in 'Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid'
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in 'The Shawshank Redemption'
Woodie Allen and Diane Keatings in 'Annie Hall'
Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler in Beaches
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Titanic'

What makes for movie magic? It's a question often asked, but a difficult one to pin down.

Mostly, it's a perfect storm - a great producer to steer the ship, a director with supreme creative vision, brilliant production values and a tight script, preformed well.

However it's often these performances the fans of a film particularly relate to. In some instances, one lead shines more brightly, steals more screen time and on other occasions, a strong ensemble cast makes for a memorable movie. Yet as in human nature, the sparks between two people are what really sets the silver screen alight.

Whether romantic, platonic or er, animated, these are the cinematic couplings with the chemistry that made them jump off the screen and into our hearts, minds ... and loins in a couple of instances, let's not lie.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford in 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'

Robert Redford and Paul Newman in 'Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid'

Perhaps the ultimate bromance on celluloid, the relationship between gunslinger Sundance and gang leader Butch is the true core of this New Wave western – so much so that the movie's poster tagline is "You never met a pair like Butch and The Kid". The mix of piercing blue-eyed Paul and sexy, sandy Robert was cinematic gold, as was their ability to buzz off one another. The part obviously had an effect on Redford, seeing as he named his film festival after the character. Oh, and proper movie nerds might have admired the fact that his character in Captain America: The Winter Soldier had a jar of Paul Newman spaghetti sauce proudly on display in his fridge.

Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in 'Gone With The Wind'

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh sizzled in 'Gone with the Wind'

Great on-screen partnerships make great lines from a script even better. When Rhett Butler tells Scarlett O'Hara "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn", it's made all the more thrilling considering their dynamic, played beautifully by Leigh and Gable. Both megastars who acted opposite the best in the business, it's bolshy, spoilt Scarlett, and smooth, smitten Rhett that many remember as a pair. It's fair to say their magnetism is what carries the epic film and makes the running time not only bearable, but enjoyable. Swoon.

Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in 'Lethal Weapon'

This might be a no holds barred, testosterone fuelled action film, but one thing is for sure – the entire Lethal Weapon franchise rests on the relationship between Riggs and Murtaugh, and little else. The buddy film lives or dies on its dynamics, and this good cop/wild cop pairing resonated with viewers instantly to the tune of three megabucks sequels. Straitlaced Murtaugh is both the foil and the remedy to Mel Gibson's Riggs, and it soon becomes obvious that these guys need each other. Aww. It's a strategy that works today still, most recently seen in the excellent True Detective.

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in 'Annie Hall'

Woodie Allen and Diane Keatings in 'Annie Hall'

What do you do when your real life relationship ends? If you're anything like Woody and Diane, make a film playing a couple! Tracing a romance from flying sparks to full blown relationship and beyond, this is a film not about love, but about survival after love goes awry. Widely reported to have used their own past partnership as inspiration, Allen's much-loved flick charts his character Alvy's infatuation with the titular Annie. Despite the height difference and the fact that Alvy is most certainly punching above his weight, their chemistry is palpable – admirable considering the demise of their real life love.

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in 'The Shawshank Redemption'

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in 'The Shawshank Redemption'

A prison movie centred on the friendship between two men with zero homoerotic undertones is no mean feat, but Robbins and Freeman pull it off with extraordinarily nuanced performances. These men aren't just mates – they are each other's rock, a bond formed quickly and long lasting. It's the quietness of their relationship that's beautiful, and the generosity given to one another by the actors. Casting genius, one might say.

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in 'You've Got Mail'

America's sweethearts Tom and Meg first appeared together back on Sleepless in Seattle, but their turn in the hilariously dated but still great You've Got Mail has snatched the rom-com title from Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. The dial up internet hilarity aside, the reason this film hasn't become as obsolete as the technology is the fizzing chemistry between Hanks' corporate sell-out and Ryan's sweet independent business owner. Their attraction on sight is soon compounded by a business rivalry, with swoony eyes turning to steely ire. The problem is, they're falling in love over instant messaging online, unaware of the others' identity. Ahh.

Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey in 'Beaches'

Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler in Beaches

Surely the greatest film about female friendship ever made? Midler's CC Bloom and her foil and BFF Hillary Whitney are the archetypal odd couple – the former a loud, brash, ambitious New Yorker with frizzy hair, her pal a smooth West Coast WASP with old money and traditional sensibilities. Bette and Barbara play off each other beautifully, from 20-something frolics to deathbed dramatics – oh, and fighting over men, of course. Their bitchy department store bust-up and subsequent reunion are two of the most realistic female-centric scenes on film.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in 'Cleopatra'

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in 'Cleopatra'

Before there was Brangelina, there was Taylor and Burton, who famously fell in love on the set of their Roman epic, blitzing both their marriages in the process. Their real life affair was played out in the media, and the public was captivated. When they reunited three years later for a much more subtle performance in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, away from the controversy and megabucks budgets, their mutual magic was even more obvious, a true example of two actors' styles just clicking.

Buzz Lightyear and Woody the Cowboy in 'Toy Story'

Okay, we know they're animated. But the combination of Tim Allen and Tom Hanks' sterling voice work and the amazing Pixar graphics (that still look incredible today) gave real heart to these two characters. They started out as rivals for one boy's fickle affections, and ended up as friends, but that initial competitive streak never left them through the sequels. Just to make you feel really old, the first Toy Story film is 20-years-old next year. Shudder.

Heath Ledger and Christian Bale in 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Heath Ledger and Christian Bale in 'The Dark Knight Returns'

Ledger's swan song is remembered not just for his chilling performance as The Joker, but for the way he and Bale's Batman played off one another in the few scenes in which they met. The Bat's stoic melancholy versus the sheer lunacy of Heath's scarred villain was actually quite frightening, and will surely go down in history as the greatest superhero versus villain battle. The Batman franchise in general is impressively cast, with Michael Keaton's turn opposite Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman in Batman Returns also deserving of a mention.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in 'Mr and Mrs Smith'

Can anyone really remember any key scenes in this film? Or what it's even about? Not just us then. Forever remembered as the film set where "poor" nice girl Jennifer Aniston was cuckolded by the darkly sexy Angelina Jolie when she took up with her co-star and screen husband Brad Pitt. How was Brad meant to resist, came the cries of many. We're sure he could have managed, but if Brangelina's real-life sparks were anything like their on-screen chemistry, it's a wonder they didn't set the er, set on fire.

Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back To The Future'

Another buddy style duo, but not in the way you might expect. Marty McFly and the Doc have a bromance that spans not just decades but dimensons, and the casting of boyish Fox and zany Lloyd was nothing short of brilliant. Two completely different characters they may be, but circumstances bring them together and the result is a mutually respectful, father/son dynamic – although who's the wiser of the two is never quite clear.

Marlon Brando and Al Pacino in 'The Godfather'

We've all been there – your dad wants one career path for you, but you want to go your own way. Well, maybe your dad isn't the Don of a major crime family, but you get the idea. Vito Corleone's power struggle with his brightest son Michael is the crux of what is often deemed the greatest film of all time – Dad wants to keep his clever son out of the family business, but headstrong Michael knows where his duty lies. The scene in the garden when Vito comes out of hospital, and gives in to his son's leadership, is nothing short of magnificent.

Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet in 'Titanic'

The debate rages on as to whether there was in fact room on that piece of driftwood, but regardless of whether Rose De Witt Bukater is a big selfish wagon or not, she and Jack Dawson were a hit. Looking back now, the fact that Kate was playing a 17-year- old when she actually could have passed for Leo's mam is pretty hilarious, but we were all dying for them to hook up in real life. Years later and they're still tight, making movie magic again in Revolutionary Road and Kate just last month described Leonardo as the "love of my life". We'll never let go, guys.

Irish Independent

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