I was standing at the altar, getting married, when the priest launched into song. He sang a few bars from “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.” I was pretty surprised by this impromptu vocalizing but I suppose it could have been worse.
Love indeed does make the world go round and here are the top ten film romances for anyone aged 50 and up. If you are under age 50, pay attention, you have no idea what you are missing. Here then, in no particular order, are those top ten flicks.
1. Titanic. (1997). I hate to admit it but James Cameron’s effort is a masterpiece. I really really hate admitting that, but its true. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio have incredibly great chemistry in this epic about the sinking of the Titanic. The sets, the costumes,and the music don’t hurt much either, and I am not surprised that many claim this fim as their favorite movie of all time. If the love affair between Jack and Rose does not catch your breath the cinematography will
2. Wuthering Heights (1939). Ah…….Cathy and Healthcliff and heather on the moors. Bronte’s literary treasure translated well to film especially with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon playing these star crossed lovers. I hate to say it but the film is much better than the book that we (of a certain generation) were forced to read in school. Oberon and Olivier had enormous on screen chemistry which is why no one dares a remake of this classic. In black and white and occasionally shown on the TCM network. It is a good idea to snuggle up on the couch for this one and have a good cry.
3. Splendor in the Grass (1961). Now if love doesn’t make you crazy little else will. Natalie Wood and Warren Beaty as young lovers in a small Kansas town. Set back in an era (1920s) when love was one thing and sex an entirely other thing, it is a riveting drama about longing. The late Natalie Wood gives a tour de force performance as a tormented young woman who is in love but who also aspires to be the kind of girl her lover will marry. I hope I put that delicately enough.
4. Love Story. (1970). Yes, Ryan had a girlfiend before Farrah and her name was Jennifer and they went to school together and got married and moved to New York City. They did not live happily ever after. Oliver’s family had buckets of money and Jennifer was the daughter of a middle class baker from Rhode Island. She loved music and he loved ice hockey. Grab the Kleenix box and rent this gem. Love means never having to say you are somewhat too jaded to get this flick.
5. Cleopatra (1963). Long before Jenn and Brad and Angelina there were Liz, DIck, Eddie and Debbie. Yes and it was much bigger and better news than today’s news. You see Liz was married to Mike who died in an airplane crash. Eddie was Mike’s best friend and married to Debbie. While consoling Liz over Mike’s death, Eddie fell in love with and married Liz by leaving Debbie. Then came Cleopatra and Liz met Dick and left Eddie. I am not making this up. I promise. This is the flick where Liz met Dick. Eizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton do one hell of a job chewing up the scenery in this otherwise lack luster film. Still a great film to watch and see how the love affair of that decade started. Some call this Eddie Fisher’s karma picture and I suppose there will be a Brad Pitt karma picture one day too.
6. Gone With The Wind (1939) Frankly dears, Vivien Leigh and Clarke Gable didn’t like each other very much at all. Still they made a classic film about a classic love story that is a masterpiece in modern film making. This epic Civil War flick is about as complicated as love stories can get. Scarlet wants Ashley but he is married to Melanie, so Scarlett marries Melanie’s brother Charles. After Charles dies, she marries her sister’s intended. Finally Rhet marries Scarlet, but she does not figure out that she loves him until Melanie dies. This is the film that is the template for all modern day soap opera except this one is set against the back drop of the Civil War and is magnificently photographed. Incredibly well directed and filmed it is a must see for all tiimes and all generations.
7. An Officer and A Gentleman. (1982). Taylor Hackford directed this love story about Zack Mayo and the woman he meets while away at officer training camp. Debra Winger plays Paula, the object of Zack’s wavering affections. Its more than your typical love story because it also addresses the need to belong. Never sappy or sentimental, it was a sensation when it was released in the early 80’s. I won’t give away the ending, but it is a Kleenex alert. Richard Gere has done some great acting work in his day, but this is the film that all 50 and plus year old women will remember him best.
8. Dr. Zhivago (1965). While the theme to this love story and motion picture epic was very much overplayed in the 1960’s (Lara’s Theme) the movie itself was magnificently shot and produced. Set in Russia, against the backdrop of the Bolshevik Revolution, it is a riveting tale of two young lovers who meet by chance. Julie Christie is Lara and Omar Sharif is Zhivago. Its a fairly long film but worth every dramatic moment and the scenery just couldn’t be more magnificent. Filmed in Alberta Canada, Finland, and Spain as the US was still in the middle of the Cold War with Russia.
9. Picnic (1955). Based on the play by Inge, William Holden and Kim Novak star in this love story about a couple who meet and fall in lust with each other in sexually repressed Kansas of the 1950’s. It is a coming of age movie about longing and deep felt emotions magnificently played by Novak who had to be one of Hollywood’s most underated actresses of that era. The subtle sexuality that sparks both characters is palatable to all, and while not as graphic as later day films, the heat in this flick is pretty hot. The film is masterfully directed by Joshua Logan.
10. Casablanca (1942). Of course kid, what were you thinking? No list of classic love stories is complete without this all time favorite. Ingrid Bergman as Ilsa and Bogie as Rick in of all the gin joints in all the world, in Casablanca. It is the start of World War II and those fleeing Europe have to stop in North Africa for exit visas. Ilsa is married to a resistance fighter who is being tailed by the Germans when she runs into Rick at his bar. There the old sparks are rekindled. I won’t spoil it by sharing the ending with you, but yes, you need the Kleenex box for this one too. Here’s looking at you-