Curiously nerdy posts.
So, carrying on with my list of romantic movies that aren’t exactly conventional Valentine’s Day viewing. I’m sure I’ll be leaving out a few favorites, but these are just my personal favs that come to mind. And besides, that’ll allow for me to do a sequel next year!
Bringing Up Baby (1938):
This will be the last super old film I mention. I promise. What can I say? I’m feeling a little old school with this.
Bare bones summary: A paleontologist is eager to secure a $1 million dollar grant for his museum. The problem is, he has to convince a rich patron’s lawyer that he is the best choice. And along the way, he runs into a girl who suddenly becomes obsessed with him and becomes determined to torment him until he becomes hers… to make things worse, she is the patron’s neice, and her opinion suddenly becomes really important, whether he wants it or not. Add in a dog that has an expensive taste in bones (fossil bones, to be exact), and a tame leopard named baby, and there’s no telling what will happen.
OK. Just from that, it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t a conventional romance movie. To be honest, it’s a love it or hate it affair from the get go. The plot is completely farcical and ridiculous. The jokes fly back and forth; so fast, in fact, that it’s dangerous to even share a laugh with whoever you’re watching it with, for fear that you’ll miss the next one. And to be honest, a lot of the aspects of it, from the social morays to the slang, are extremely dated.
But this is a personal favorite of mine, moreso than the rest on this list. I can still remember the night that I was watching TV, and randomly stumbled upon it playing on Turner Classic Movies. Why did I stop flipping channels? Because on my screen, I saw Cary Grant wearing a super girly negligee. Cary freaking Grant. The original hollywood leading man, the master of debonaire. The kind of guy George Clooney has tried to be for decades now, wearing frilly night wear. I had to stop and watch. I HAD TO.
And what I discovered was a truly hilarious movie full of the classic style of humor I enjoy best… the misunderstanding kind. There’s lots in here that can totally turn off a viewer, but plenty also to make it endearing.
But none of that would matter, if there wasn’t a quality boy meets girl scenario somewhere in it. And of course, there is. You have Cary Grant, and Katherine Hepburn in her younger years, looking hot, and a force of nature in her role as a mercurial rich girl who almost always gets what she wants. Their chemistry here is second to none.
My favorite scene is of course right where I started watching the movie the first time. The punchline at the end shows how dated it is, but it’s Cary Grant, doing improv and somehow looking awesome in women’s underwear. It shows the good and bad of the movie, all in a little under two minutes.
While this might not be the best one to spring on your girl for a perfect romantic evening, it is a great change up on any other night when you feel like surprising her. She’ll be rolling her eyes, waiting for the next guy movie you want to pull out, and BAM. Really old movie, that’s also funny.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961):
This one is totally obscure, right? Nah. It’s a book. It’s a movie. It’s even a song. When you can go to your local discount store and find a movie poster of this, it’s no surprise to anyone. I don’t think this one needs a summary, really.
I remember the first time I watched this movie, I came away with a simple opinion: It’s pretty much the perfect romantic movie, aside from one small part of it. That part being the now-infamous landlord, played by Mickey Rooney pretending to be asian. From what I’ve read, everyone expected him to be a big highlight of the movie, and even possibly an oscar contender in a supporting role. If someone could make an edit of the movie that simply took out every time he says “MISS GO RITERY”, it pretty much would be the perfect romantic movie.
I guess it goes to show how far we’ve come in some ways since then, when it comes to stereotypes.
But the rest of the movie? Stellar. I mean, you’ve got Audrey Hepburn in her prime here. Men and women alike love to stare at her. She’s just that beautiful, and an actual good actress too, even if this isn’t her best personal effort. You’ve got George “Hannibal Smith” Peppard, playing a writer who’s a bit down on his luck. And you’ve got a story written by Truman Capote, of all people.
I’m a sucker for romantic films where both people involved are flawed. And indeed, both of them have serious problems. She keeps up a sophisticated socialite lifestyle, living off the social graces of rich men, basically a prostitute with nicer wrapping paper. He plays a struggling writer who is “kept” by a rich older woman. Both of them become intrigued by each other when they meet, but the realities of what they have to do to survive keeps romance from blooming conventionally. You’d think a plotline like this would make it an incredibly grim tale, but nothing is further from the truth. It’s full of sweet moments, and some truly zany parts too. There’s so many spots where she narrowly avoids disaster, and is seemingly oblivious the entire time.
Some of the dialogue is draggy, and the ending feels more than a little tacked on, but this is a movie that’s legendary in many ways, and a personal favorite of mine. It’s hard to go wrong ever showing it to any girl… assuming she hasn’t already seen it like five times herself.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004):
And here we are, my number 1 pick.
Bare bones summary: Boy meets girl. Boy really likes girl, but suddenly discovers that in fact, they’ve met. They used to date, in fact, and grew to hate each other so much that they used an experimental procedure to erase their memories of each other. Together, they discover that that may not be the best idea after all.
It’s hard for me to find parts that I DON’T like about this movie, honestly. But what it does best is show an unabashed portrayal of what makes relationships such a roller coaster. It shows the parts that are amazing: that initial fascination, that excitement, that feeling of suddenly having something you didn’t even realize you needed until you had it. But it also shows the parts that suck: the nasty arguments, the feelings of when you don’t feel like you’re as important to the other person anymore, the feeling that suddenly you’re trapped and not sure if this is what you wanted after all. This movie covers all of that, and does it effortlessly.
It also asks a deeper question: if you had a chance to just forget everything about a person if things went sour, would you want to? For Joel in this movie, the answer is yes. But then he realizes that in fact, those memories are as precious now, when he pretty much can’t stand Clementine anymore, as they were when he was absolutely bonkers for her. Travelling through his mind, he realizes that yes, sometimes she did things wrong in their relationship. But so did he. This is punctuated beautifully as he relives one of the first nights he met her, and chickened out on being spontaneous with her.
Both Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are outstanding here, and have chemistry that is second to none. This movie is funny. This movie is poignant. It even has a little sci-fi, if that makes it even easier to swallow. But my favorite scene sums up to me, what love is.
Never has a simple “OK” been more loaded. He accepts that she’s not perfect, and neither is he. Chances are pretty good, in fact, that they will screw up again, and not be the perfect couple. They might even break up again. But none of that matters, because he can’t imagine life without her. And he’s perfectly willing to go through all the high parts (and the low parts) just to be with her. As long as he can. God, I love this movie.
Well… your girl WILL have seen this movie before, but you know? She’ll still love you for watching it with her. Again and again and again.
There are plenty of other choices, of course, for this kind of topic. But these are my personal top 5, as we get closer to V-day and I get a little bit sappy. Hope you enjoy them!
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