A Date with Ben and Jerry

23 February 2008

For those of you without a valentine, Thursday has compiled a list of pick-me-up romantic films through the ages to get you through the lovebirds’ holiday.

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1940s

Rebecca

Alfred Hitchcock

It might be stretching it to call Rebecca a feel-good film, but it is one of the great classics, and Joan Fontaine is so endearing in it, you’ll want to adopt her and make sure nothing bad ever happens to her again. Be prepared to squeal every time Laurence Olivier clasps her to his bosom, but a word of warning: there is more suspense than action in this film. However, the hottie quotient is high, the scenery is beautiful, and there’s a lot pay-off in the love department.

1950s

Singin’ in the Rain

Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

One of the ultimate feel-good flicks, Singin’ in the Rain has it all: catchy up-beat music, fun dance routines involving umbrellas and a pie-in-the-face scene. Talking pictures have just been introduced, and one of the biggest (and most annoying) starlets of silent film, Lina Lamont, has a voice to break mirrors. Enter unknown actress Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), who has a great voice and a thing for leading man Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly). And so lip-syncing is born–only, they don’t tell Lina they’re dubbing over her. Hilarity ensues. Also, there are some great slapstick scenes with the third in Kathy and Don’s trio, Cosmo (Donald O’Connor).

1960s

The Graduate

Mike Nichols

Dustin Hoffman plays Benjamin Braddock, a recent university graduate who doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, though his parents and their friends have some ideas. He is seduced by a predatory older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), but breaks off the affair when he falls in love with her daughter Elaine. The film culminates with one of the most iconic romantic scenes of all times, when Benjamin goes to stop Elaine’s wedding to another. This film is a mustsee for its dry humour, excellent performances and the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack.

1970s

Grease

Randal Kleiser

A mainstay on any list of chick flicks, Grease will chase away any lovesick blues. It’s cheesy enough to prevent that unwanted side effect of romantic comedies, the “if onlys”. Bad boy Danny (John Travolta) and good girl Sandy (Olivia Newton John) fall for each other over summer break. When school starts back up, it turns out that she has moved to his school, but unfortunately she’s a preppy goody two-shoes, and he’s the leader of the (singing, dancing, car-obsessed) T-Birds gang. Danny and Sandy want to be together, but it’s not easy when they’re in such different cliques. Makeovers and dance-offs ensue.

1980s

The Princess Bride

Rob Reiner

The beautiful Buttercup (Robin Wright Penn) falls in love with her serving boy Westley (Carey Elwes), but when he goes away to make his fortune, he is reported dead at sea, and she is forced to become engaged to the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). Westley returns to save her, but together they must battle quicksand, Rodents of Unusual Size and shrieking eels, among other things. Along the way, they meet Andre the Giant, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal and other interesting folks. The Princess Bride is at the same time a hilarious satire of the romance genre and a wholly enchanting fairy tale.

1990s

Sliding Doors

Peter Howitt

Ever wondered what might have happened if only you’d managed to catch that train? Well, in Sliding Doors, not one but two romantic tales unfold. When Helen runs and catches the tube on her way home from work, she finds her boyfriend in bed with another woman, but when she misses it, she arrives home and the woman has left, leaving her completely in the dark. A feel-good British film, it’s more than just your average chick flick. It tackles issues such as destiny, fate and self-determination, but it still manages to deliver all the laughter and tears you could want in a romantic comedy. Most importantly, it features some great performances both from the incredibly charming John Hannah and Gwyneth Paltrow with a nearly impeccable English accent.

2000s

I’m With Lucy

Jon Sherman

Lucy (Monica Potter) is set up on five blind dates over the course of a year, after she suffers a rude break-up. A couple of the guys are pretty jerky, and only one is The One, but Lucy connects with all of them in one way or another. Even though not all encounters lead much beyond the first date, she learns something from each of them. This upbeat film contends that dating is a constructive and instructive process, no matter how the date turns out. But this is not to draw attention away from Lucy’s ultimate match–he does one of the most romantic things ever done in a movie, but I won’t ruin the surprise. The supporting cast is superb, including Anthony LaPaglia, John Hannah and Henry Thomas as dates and Harold Ramis and Julie Christie as Lucy’s slightly overbearing but endearing parents.