Love On The Silver Screen

Sunday, February 11, 2018

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What do these three lines “The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”, “You make me want to be a better man” and “I would rather share one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone” have in common? That's right; they're in the pantheon of the most romantic film quotes of all time.

Truth is, all the world loves a good love story, because we love to be hypnotised by the transformational power of love. After all, isn't it the greatest emotion in this world?

As Valentine's Day approaches, SO salutes some of the romances we've enjoyed on the big screen through the years.

 

1930s/40s/50s

 

Gone With the Wind

A mismatched couple conduct a turbulent romance in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Widely regarded as the greatest love story told, it is a historical epic adapted from Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel and stars Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara, the headstrong daughter of a plantation owner who, while pursuing romance with one man, finds passion with another, Rhett Butler, played by hot-stuff screen actor of the day Clark Gable. It received 10 Oscar wins, including notably Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to ever win one, even though the film has been widely criticised for its glorification of slavery.

Famous quote: Rhett to Scarlett: “You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”

 

Casablanca

Another old-fashioned romance, this film stars screen idol Humphrey Bogart and screen siren Ingrid Bergman and tells the story of an American expatriate (Bogart) who runs a cafe in Casablanca, Morocco, during the early stages of World War II, and must choose between his love for an old flame (Bergman) and helping her and her husband (Paul Henreid), a Czech Resistance leader, to escape from the Vichy-controlled Casablanca in order to continue his fight against the Nazis.

Famous quotes: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

And “We'll always have Paris.”

 

Carmen Jones

An all-black Oscar-nominated musical drama based on Bizet's opera, this film saw Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge as leads telling the story of a vixen who lures a handsome soldier away from his sweetheart, provoking a tragedy when she tires of him. Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll provide sensational cast support.

 

1960s

 

Splendor in the Grass

Made in 1961, this social drama set in the late-1920s Kansas is about adolescent love, heartbreak and sexual repression, with Natalie Wood and “introducing” a newcomer Warren Beatty in lead roles. It won an Oscar for Best Screenplay and scored a Best Actress nomination for Wood, who plays goody two shoes Deanie Loomis, who actively resists having sex with her boyfriend Bud Stamper (Beatty), who belongs to a wealthy family in town and, following his father's advice, begins developing a taste for the resident bad girl. The path of true love never being smooth, and all, with the Great Depression as backdrop, should we be surprised that they are destined to be star-crossed lovers?

Famous quote: “Though nothing can bring back the hour/Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; /We will grieve not, rather find/Strength in what remains behind...”

 

Breakfast at Tiffany's

As much an iconic style reference as it is a coming-of-age tale, Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's remains a fan favourite. The legendary Audrey Hepburn brought New York socialite Holly Golightly to the big screen in 1961 impressing upon us that love trumps money any day.

Famous quote: “Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness.”

 

Doctor Zhivago

The greatest love stories on the silver screen are those in which the hero and the heroine must battle odds to get to each other. Sometimes they triumph, sometimes they don't. But whether successful or not, the pleasure comes from watching the journey. And at a running time of 193 minutes, the scenic journey (among the five Oscars it won was the Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design) is long and sometimes trivialises history, but oh, the intensity of the love story cannot be denied. Russian physician and poet Yuri Zhivago (Omar Shariff) is married, with his life altered by the Russian Revolution and his very married love interest Lara Antipova (Julie Christie).

Famous quote: Komarovski: “No doubt they'll sing in tune after the revolution.”

 

My Fair Lady

The rains in Spain aside, we look back fondly at the student-teacher tension that defines Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins' relationship. The transformation from tougher-than-nails flower vendor to graceful doe makes this musical absolutely delightful and one of the most-loved romance films of all time.

 

The Sound of Music

Grande dame Julie Andrews opposite Christopher Plummer, as Fraulein Maria and Captain Von Trapp respectively, sang their way into our hearts in this heart-warming love story inspired by real life events. Add to that, those six adorable children, the sense of adventure she afforded them and how her affection for them allowed the army man to see her as a worthy companion.

 

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Rife with race relations, this film explores the love between Dr John Prentice (played by Sydney Poitier) a black man and his white fiancee Joana Drayton (played by Katharine Houghton) who takes him home to meet her parents.

Famous quote: “It never occurred to me that I would fall in love with a Negro, but I have, and nothing's going to change that.”

Bonnie and Clyde

Not Jay-Z and Beyoncé, silly! The biography of infamous, real-life rebels whose criminal lifestyle was a comingling of sex, guns and violence spawning the reference “ride or die”. Famous quote: Clyde to Bonnie: “Because you're different, that's why. You know, you're like me. You want different things.”

 

1970s

 

Mahogany

Back in the 7os, at the height of blaxploitation films, a refreshing, lush black love story emerged, which spawned the theme song of many a graduation since, Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To). Starring sex symbol Billy Dee Williams and the fabulous Ms Ross, who'd been making the transition from singer to actor (Ross was following up the previous year's Lady Sings the Blues), Mahogany told the story of Tracy Chambers, an aspiring designer from the slums of Chicago who puts herself through fashion school and goes in search of fame and fortune, unwittingly putting herself on a collision course between success and the man she loves, neighbourhood activist and aspiring politician Brian Walker.

Famous quote: “Success means nothing unless you have someone to share it with!”

 

Love Story

When a Harvard law student and music major from two completely opposite social circles meet, fall in love and marry the result is a truly memorable movie. The story explores the age-old rich-boy-meets-poor-girl tale, and what really happens when family members can't accept the one you've chosen.

Famous quote: “Love means never having to say you're sorry.”

 

Grease

“You're the one that I want!”Teenagers in heat, summer and singing… that's the stuff that makes Grease memorable. Think the chemistry between stars Olivia Newton John and John Travolta and, well, you get the idea.

 

The Way We Were

Exploring the peaks and troughs of the love and lives of Katie Morosky (Barbra Streisand) and Hubbell Gardiner (Robert Redford) The Way We Were is an allegory for finding love and losing it.

Famous quote: “If I push too hard it's because I want things to be better, I want us to be better, I want you to be better.”

 

Heaven Can Wait

Hollywood has long had a fascination with life-after-death storylines. In fact, before the heated romance of Demi and Swayze in Ghost there was the comedic Heaven Can Wait which presented the idea of a reincarnated football star who returned to earth, after his death, as a millionaire and falls in love with an English environmentalist who initially opposes him.

 

1980s

 

Splash

Daryl Hannah stars opposite Tom Hanks as the beautiful mermaid, Madison, who is transplanted from the sea to bustling New York City even as the story meanders the differences between their two worlds (and that she didn't tell him she was a mermaid). We especially touched by the ending… let's just say he took a big leap for love.

 

Can't Buy Me Love

Money doesn't buy love, but that didn't stop high school nerd Ronald Miller (Patrick Dempsey) from trying after he pays popular girl Cindi Mancini to be his girlfriend. What happens is a comedic plot twist where, sure enough, she falls for him.

Famous quote: “I need to talk to you. Every time I call you're either taking a bath, washing your hair or you're out of the country. That was a good one, by the way.”

 

Dirty Dancing

Nobody puts Baby in a corner! While spending the summer with her family at lodge resort, Frances 'Baby' Houseman falls in love with the property's dance instructor.

Famous quote: “Me? I'm scared of everything. I'm scared of what I saw, I'm scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I'm with you.”

 

Flashdance

This musical about what happens when an in-the-streets steel worker/exotic dancer has the courage to chase her ballet ambitions, while being fuelled by her man.

 

Coming to America

Starring Eddie Murphy (who played multiple characters), this comedy tells the story of Akeem, the African prince who came to America to find a bride. Eschewing his royal lifestyle and instead posing as an immigrant goat herder, he falls for his boss's daughter who has no idea of his wealth.

Famous quote: “I want a woman that will arouse my intellect as well as my loins.”

 

Out of Africa

This epic old-fashioned love story, directed by Sydney Pollack, is based loosely on Karen Blixen's memoirs of her time in 20th century colonial Kenya, and won seven Academy Awards. Breathtakingly beautiful shots help tell the story of the baroness Karen Blixen (played by the always incandescent Meryl Streep), who, despairing she'll be single forever, marries one man (Klaus Maria Brandauer) and then falls for another (Robert Redford). Famous quote: Klaus Maria Brandauer: “You should have asked permission.” Redford: “I did. She said yes.”

 

When Harry Met Sally

Is platonic friendship between a man and woman ever possible? This is the premise of this 1989 flick believed to be the original of the rom-com genre, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. Thankfully, there's a happy ending for the leads, who have spent years looking in all the wrong places for love.

Famous quote: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

 

 

 

1990s

 

Ten Things I Hate About You

A retelling of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew set in an American high school, focuses on two sisters that aren't allowed to date. But we especially love the closing scene when older sister Katrina (played by Julia Styles) waxes poetic in a bid to win back her love interest: “I hate it, I hate the way you're always right. I hate it when you lie. I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry. I hate it when you're not around, and the fact that you didn't call. But mostly I hate the way I don't hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.”

 

Clueless

Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is a rich, spoilt blonde who realises that she's “totally butt crazy in love with Josh,” her (former) stepbrother. Trouble is, Josh thinks she a shallow, valley girl who specialises in shopping. Their comedic banter makes for great cinematic memories in this movie with is a lose nod to Jane Austin's Emma.

 

Pretty Woman

Businessman Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) hires Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts), a Hollywood Boulevard hooker to accompany him at events in bid to manage corporate optics, but ends up falling her.

Famous quote: “You and I are such similar creatures, Vivian. We both screw people for money.”

 

Titanic

We're still not sure why star-crossed lovers Jack and Rose couldn't have shared the floating door, but this movie about ill-fated love remains a timeless classic.

Famous quote: “Winning that ticket, Rose, was the best thing that ever happened to me... it brought me to you. And I'm thankful for that, Rose. I'm thankful. You must do me this honour. Promise me you'll survive. That you won't give up, no matter what happens, no matter how hopeless. Promise me now, Rose, and never let go of that promise.”

 

Ghost

After banker Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is murdered, his spirit refuses to crossover into eternity before making contact with his artist girlfriend Molly Jensen (Demi Moore); and so he seeks the help of medium Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg).

Famous quote: The last scene between Sam and Molly as he leaves earth: “It's amazing, Molly. The love inside, you take it with you. See ya.”

 

Bridges of Madison County

Two strangers, Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) and Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep), have an affair with each other after he, a photographer, stays at her house over a four-day period. It's forbidden romance…exploring the 'what ifs' and it's one of our faves with lots of lyrical gems.

Famous quotes: “I don't want to need you, 'cause I can't have you.” and “It seems right now that all I've ever done in my life is making my way here to you.”

 

The English Patient

This sweeping adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's novel of the same name, directed by Anthony Minghella and winning nine Oscars including Best Picture for Minghella, is sometimes described as a war film. But we won't quibble with that assignation. After all, isn't war often a backdrop for great romance?

At the close of WWII, a young nurse (Juliet Binoche) at a bombed-out Italian monastery tends to a badly-burned plane crash victim, Count Laszlo de Almasy (Ralph Fiennes). Through a series of flashbacks, we're presented with a picture of his life, which involves - surprise, surprise - a fateful love affair with a married woman (Kristin Scott Thomas).

Famous quote: “I promise, I'll come back for you. I promise, I'll never leave you.”

 

Love Jones

A young black poet (Larenz Tate) and a beautiful photographer (Nia Long) in Chicago begin “kicking it” after an instant connection and try to figure out if they in fact have a “love thing”. But in this modern-day romance, complications arise, testing their feelings. This story has the essential ingredients of a successful rom-com: chemistry, obstacles and sex. And the stunning cast of then young, black urban up-and-comers, which include Isaiah Washington, Bill Bellamy, and Lisa Nicole Carson, doesn't hurt, either.

Famous quote: “God is a woman... if you ever kissed a woman you know that women have a certain power. A certain sexual thing that renders men totally incapable of functioning.”

 

Mississippi Masala

An Indian family is ousted from Uganda when Idi Amin takes over and wants Uganda to be part of a “black Africa”. They move to Mississippi in the United States, where the daughter (Sarita Choudhury) eventually falls in love with a black man (Denzel Washington). Needless to say, complications ensue of a racial nature. Will the couple's interracial love prevail against the odds? This is a low-keyed contemporary classic is one of Washington's earlier film roles and utterly charming, and although it comes across as done on a shoestring budget, don't be deceived: it is a big film that tackles big-ticket issues, all while revolving around a sweet, tender love story.

 

Jerry Maguire

When a morally challenged sports agent (Tom Cruise) has a crisis of conscience and is subsequently fired for expressing it, he loses almost everything and must pick up the pieces when he launches out as an independent agent with the only client, a volatile athlete who stays with him (Cuba Gooding Jr) and the loyal former secretary (Renee Zellweger) who believes in him and is willing to help him rebuild what he has lost, and to see that it's never too late to start over. But the heart and soul of the movie has got to be the breakout child star Jonathan Lipnicki as Zellweger's adorable lisp-tongued son Ray, who helps Jerry understand what it means to be a real family.

Famous quote: “You had me at hello.”

 

Message in a Bottle

Does anything more need to be said about this adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel? Sparks is the king of five-hanky drama whose works are routinely made into romantic movies. The picture stars Kevin Costner, Robin Wright Penn and Paul Newman and tells the tale of a reporter (Wright Penn) who finds a letter washed ashore in a bottle addressed to Catherine and she decides to track down the author, a widowed shipbuilder (Costner) whose wife has died tragically. Love blossoms between them, but he struggles with the ghost of his wife which stands between him finding happiness with his new love.

 

The Bodyguard

Former secret service agent Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) takes a job as bodyguard for pop star Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) and blurs the line between personal and professional after things start heating up between them.

Rachel: [to Frank] “What are you looking at? You've probably never had a heavy night in your whole damn disciplined life.”

 

2000s

 

Twilight Saga: New Moon

A teenage love triangle featuring human girl Bella Swan and her suitors - a 200-year-old-youthful vampire Edward Cullen and a werewolf Jacob Black - who though mortal enemies swore to an allegiance to protect Bella at all costs.

Famous quote: Edward to Bella: “I love you. You're my only reason to stay alive… if that's what I am.”

 

An Education

This coming-of-age story, about a teenager (Carey Mulligan) in 1960s suburban London and how her placid life and plans for university change upon the arrival of a playboy con man (Peter Sarsgaard) twice her age who seduces her, had the makings of a modern classic from the get-go. Teen angst, a taboo love affair, and heartbreak? The perfect stew for romance.

 

Our Souls at Night

This film reunited screen legends Jane Fonda and Robert Redford years after their 60s romp Barefoot in the Park. It's a modern classic and a quirky tale of two aging neighbours - she widowed, and he divorced - begin a platonic relationship on the premise of simply sleeping in the same bed at night, to combat loneliness and so keep each other company. Naturally, things get complicated when they begin sharing the stories of their lives with each other and her disapproving son and grandson turn up. For people who yearn to see mature love with all its lumps and bumps depicted on the screen.

 

Hitch

There's just something about a funny man-maybe it's the way he uses jokes to hide his vulnerability. Which is probably why Will Smith wins hearts in this rom-com about a professional dating consultant (Smith) who teaches a socially inept man (Kevin James) how to woo the woman of his dreams (Amber Valetta), and ends up falling in love himself.

Famous quote: “Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it's the moments that take your breath away.”

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