Saturday, February 13, 2016

Valentine's Day Nuggets

To celebrate Valentine's Day we have selected a handful of favorite romantic classics for your enjoyment. There is only one golden nugget among the lot, but each and every one of these films are entertaining in their own way. Happy Valentine's Day! 


Rome Adventure ( 1962 ) 14k


A schoolteacher takes her first trip to Rome to "learn about love" in the city of romance and falls in love with a young architect who is already in a romantic entanglement of his own. Troy Donahue, Suzanne Pleshette, Rossano Brazzi, Angie Dickinson. Warner Bros Pictures. Directed by Delmar Daves. 

Rome Adventure was geared towards young lovers when it was made but over the years an older crowd has been attracted to it....most likely due to Suzanne Pleshette looking so beautiful in the film ( her first picture ) and Rossano Brazzi looking so dashing in his Italian way. The location filming in and around Rome is gorgeous and the film features Emelio Pericoli singing "Al Di La" which went on to become an Italian standard. Donahue and Pleshette played the part of lovers so well that off-screen they fell in love and were wed shortly after the film's release. However, their marriage only lasted eight months. 

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Wuthering Heights ( 1939 ) 24k


A traveler who stops at Wuthering Heights during a snowstorm is told the tale of two childhood lovers who were torn apart by the barrier of class and wasted their lives in loveless marriages. Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon, David Niven, Geraldine Fitzgerald. Samuel Goldwyn Productions. Directed by William Wyler.

This is undoubtedly the best film re-telling of Emily Bronte's novel "Wuthering Heights" and Samuel Goldwyn himself considered it his favorite film. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards but since it was 1939 - the golden year - it only won one award for its cinematography...which was indeed marvelous. Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon are both excellent in the roles of Heathcliff and Cathy. Alfred Newman wrote a haunting score in keeping with the film's somber theme of doomed and tragic love. If you are in the mood for a melodramatic romantic film, this is it. Want a double feature? Pair it with The Ghost and Mrs. Muir ( 1947 ). 

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An Affair to Remember ( 1957 ) 14k


A playboy and a nightclub singer have a shipboard romance en route to the south of France. Once back in New York they decide to reunite in six months and meet at the top of the Empire State Building but one of them does not show up. Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning, Cathleen Nesbit. 20th Century Fox Pictures. Directed by Leo McCarey.

It wouldn't be an official list of romantic films without An Affair to Remember. I always thought that this one was rather stilted compared to the original Love Affair ( starring Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne, and also directed by Leo McCarey ) but the more you watch it the more it grows on you. The color cinematography is beautiful. Have a box of hankies near by for the tear-inducing ending.
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Sabrina ( 1954 ) 14k


The daughter of a chauffeur travels to Paris for two years and blossoms into a beautiful young woman upon her return to the States. The rich playboy son of her father's employer, whom she was in love with for years, becomes smitten with her but she decides he may not be the man she was searching for after all. Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Martha Hyer. Paramount Pictures. Directed by Billy Wilder.  

Billy Wilder made a number of great films in the 1950s, and Sabrina ranks as one of his most entertaining. Audrey Hepburn does a marvelous job of playing first the young Sabrina, innocent and starry eyed, and then the more mature Sabrina, eager to play the society woman. This is definitely a girls picture and indeed, it was one of the earliest "classics" we can recall watching growing up, but if you pair it up with Roman Holiday you have a great Audrey Hepburn themed romantic evening to enjoy...without your lover of course, he probably wouldn't go near these films. 

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Random Harvest ( 1942 )  18k 


A WWI officer stricken with amnesia escapes from a mental institution and meets a sympathetic cabaret singer. They fall in love, marry, and he makes a new life for himself, but less than a year later a head injury triggers his memory of the past. Will he return to his new wife or go back to the life he led before? Greer Garson, Ronald Colman, Susan Peters, Philip Dorn. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy.

At the time of Random Harvest's release, critics panned the film and labeled it an "empty" and "unreal" film. James Agee wrote that "I would like to recommend this film to those who can stay interested in Ronald Colman's amnesia for two hours and who can with pleasure eat a bowl of Yardley's shaving soap for breakfast." Ouch! In spite of the critics, audiences came to the theatres in droves to see Greer Garson, one of MGM's most popular leading ladies, and the great English actor Ronald Colman together on screen. The film reaped over $8 million in sales. Garson and Colman were both in top form, as was the lovely Susan Peters. Its cinematography, fine script, and its beautiful score ( by Herbert Stothart ) make this a gem. 

6 comments:

  1. Great list! I've never seen Rome Adventure, I'll have to give it a shot!

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    1. Yes, give it a try. I hope you'll like it. :-)

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  2. I'm seconding Jaina -- I've seen all these except Rome Adventure, so I'll have to find that one.

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    1. It plays out almost like a Ross Hunter film - lots of teen soap. Good stuff!

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  3. I would have to up RANDOM HARVEST to 24K! Among Troy's romances, I'd havr to go with A SUMMER PLACE or PARRISH--though ROME ADVENTURE is certainly scenic and I love Suzanne.

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    1. Yes, we were tempted to give the gold rating, but then we thought about Mrs. Miniver ( also released that year ) and which was slightly better. I think if Random Harvest shaved off twenty minutes of its runtime then it would have been a really taut film, and 24k for sure.

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