Part 3

Romance Films
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Examples

Romantic Pairings:

Unusual pairings between couples (romantically-involved in some way) have included the following films (mostly in the 60s and 70s):

  • The Apartment - 1960the blossoming of love affairs for three American secretaries (Dorothy McGuire, Jean Peters, and Maggie McNamara) vacationing in Rome, Italy, in the sentimental, escapist romantic travelogue Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
  • the sympathetic relationship between exploited elevator girl Shirley MacLaine and manipulatively-used office clerk Jack Lemmon in Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960); he told her that he had, at long last, found his girl Friday: "I used to live like Robinson Crusoe - I mean, shipwrecked among 8 million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand and there you were. It's a wonderful thing, dinner for two."
  • an updating of the tragic Romeo and Juliet tale to the streets of New York, in the Broadway production and in the award-winning film West Side Story (1961), with Natalie Wood as a young Puerto Rican woman, and a score by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim and impressive choreography by Jerome Robbins
  • the shaky relationship between an eccentric, urban playgirl Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) and struggling writer Paul (George Peppard) in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), an adaptation of Truman Capote's story marred by the presence of the distasteful stereotypical role of Mickey Rooney as Holly's Japanese landlord Mr. Yunioshi
  • three romance-tinged French films: Francois Truffaut's Jules and Jim (1962) about a difficult love triangle starring Jeanne Moreau; Jacques Demy's musical romantic tragedy The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) with Catherine Deneuve; and Claude Lelouch's love story A Man and a Woman (1966) with French stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimee in the title roles
  • the sexual awakening and anguish of repressed teen romance between high-schoolers Wilma Dean (Natalie Wood) and Bud (Warren Beatty) in Elia Kazan's Splendor in the Grass (1961)
  • Lolita - 1962the obsessional relationship between a professor (James Mason) and a tantalizing 15-year old girl (Sue Lyon) in Stanley Kubrick's controversial black comedy Lolita (1962)
  • Rocky Papasano's (Steve McQueen) proposal to Angie Rossini (Natalie Wood) by holding up a sign: "Better wed than dead!" in Robert Mulligan's Love With the Proper Stranger (1963)
  • David Lean's romantic epic costume drama Doctor Zhivago (1965) with a love triangle between Moscow doctor Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif), his wife Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin), and his lover Lara (Julie Christie)
  • the star-crossed love of Romeo and Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli's Shakespearean romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet (1968), the first with teen stars Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey (including a brief nude love scene)
  • the painfully-doomed relationship between terminally-ill Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal in Love Story (1970), noted for its oft-quoted line "Love means never having to say you're sorry"
  • David Lean's beautifully-filmed romantic drama Ryan's Daughter (1970) about a young Irish girl's (Sarah Miles) unhappy marriage to a middle-aged schoolteacher (Robert Mitchum) and her tragic, indiscreet love affair with a British officer (Christopher Jones)
  • the May-December romance between suicide-obsessed, 20 year-old Harold (Bud Cort) and 79 year-old eccentric, funeral-obsessed, but life-affirming Maude (Ruth Gordon) in Harold and Maude (1971)
  • the murderous feelings of a scorned, psychotic, hysterical and suicidal woman/fan toward a California DJ who played her favorite song, in Clint Eastwood's directorial debut thriller film, Play Misty for Me (1971)
  • the nostalgic, war-time, beachside summer romance between a teenaged boy (Gary Grimes) and beautiful young war bride (Jennifer O'Neill) in Summer of '42 (1971)
  • the tumultuous, unpredictable, and unglamorous date between teens Candy Clark and Charles Martin Smith in American Graffiti (1973); she admits after the night is over: "I had a pretty good time tonight...You picked me up and we got some hard stuff...and then we went to the canal, and you got your car stolen, and then I got to watch you get sick, and then you got in this really bitchin' fight. I really had a good time."
  • The Way We Were - 1973the long-lasting relationship of opposites-who-attract, from the 1930s to the 1950s, in Sydney Pollack's The Way We Were (1973) between a handsome WASP writer (Robert Redford) and a Jewish political activist (Barbra Streisand); typically, Redford admits: "Katie, it was never uncomplicated," with Streisand responding: "But it was lovely, wasn't it?"
  • the seductive, randy proposals of sexy, pampering hair stylist Warren Beatty toward his clients, "Let me do your hair", in Shampoo (1975)
  • the unlikely pairing of working-class boxer Sylvester Stallone with shy and repressed girlfriend Talia Shire in Rocky (1976); often acknowledged with the greeting "Yo, Adrian!"
  • the neurotic mismatch between Alvy Singer (Allen) and aspiring singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) within a New York backdrop in Woody Allen's Best Picture-winning Annie Hall (1977); he admits nervously to Annie: "Love is, is too weak a word for the way I feel - I lurve you, you know, I loave you, I luff you."
  • the unusual relationship between 17 year old high school student Tracy (Mariel Hemingway) and an older Isaac (director Woody Allen) in Allen's perceptive musings about friendship and love in Manhattan (1979)
  • the convenient relationship between divorced mother and labor organizer Sally Field who accepted Beau Bridges' proposal for marriage in Norma Rae (1979), after his request: "I got me and Alice; we're alone. You got your two kids; you're alone. If you could help me, maybe I could help you."

Romantic Pairings in the 80s:

  • An Officer and a Gentleman - 1982the time-travel, fantasy-romance between a modern-day, self-hypnotized playwright (Christopher Reeve) and a beautiful turn-of-the-century actress (Jane Seymour) in Somewhere in Time (1980)
  • the ruinous, forbidden affair of a 19th century Victorian Englishwoman (Meryl Streep) with a French Lieutenant and a contemporary gentleman (Jeremy Irons) in The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
  • the most unlikely bond between a stranded alien and a young boy (Henry Thomas) in Spielberg's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) - with ET's heart-warming promise at its finale: "I'll be right here."
  • the mysterious romance The Return of Martin Guerre (1982), with Nathalie Baye and Gerard Depardieu as a reunited couple who - after a period of war - may/may not be husband and wife
  • Peter Weir's romantic drama The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), with a hot love affair between Australian radio journalist Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson) and British attache Jill Bryant (Sigourney Weaver) during the mid-60s Indonesian coup against President Sukarno
  • the romance between an enrolled naval officer/candidate in training school (Richard Gere) and a working girl (Debra Winger), in the 'soap opera' An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), memorable for its hot love scenes, and its finale in which the protagonist swept his girlfriend off her feet from her factory job to the tune of "Up Where We Belong"
  • the fumbling experiences of Molly Ringwald as an awkward, traumatized and forgotten sixteen year old who eventually won the attention of a senior student (Michael Schoeffling) and experienced her first kiss in John Hughes' best teen comedy Sixteen Candles (1984)
  • Tom Hanks' unusual love for a beautiful mermaid (Daryl Hannah) in director Ron Howard's Splash (1984) - "All my life, I've been waiting for someone. And when I find her...she's a fish!"
  • the enduring relationship that grew between futuristic, time-traveling revolutionary Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) and the cold-blooded Terminator's intended victim Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in The Terminator (1984); their offspring was destined to liberate the Earth in the sequel
  • A Room With a View - 1986the sweeping, epic romance tale between Danish authoress Isak Dinesen (Meryl Streep) and a dashing hunter not-her-husband (Robert Redford), told against the gorgeous cinematographic backdrop of Kenya in Africa in Out of Africa (1985), a Best Picture winner
  • the typically-Edwardian English repressed romance of Helena Bonham Carter as a feisty, ravishing British girl who must choose between sensuous passion with admirer George Emerson (Julian Sands) and prissy fiancee Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis) in the Merchant-Ivory-produced A Room with a View (1985, UK)
  • the tragic romance between Sex Pistol Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman) and his punk-rock junkie girlfriend (Chloe Webb) in Sid & Nancy (1986)
  • the 'dirty dancing,' first love between the sweet Jennifer Grey as Baby with her dance instructor Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing (1987), a 60s period film; she admits: "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!"
  • the disturbing after-effects of a passionate weekend for a married New York lawyer (Michael Douglas) with a sexy but wrathful blonde associate (Glenn Close) in Adrian Lyne's glossy, nail-biting Fatal Attraction (1987)
  • When Harry Met Sally... - 1989in the late 80s popular and quirky romantic comedy Moonstruck (1987) about Italian-Americans featuring an ensemble cast, Cher took the role of Loretta Castorini - a 38 year-old widow in a Brooklyn family who was engaged to marry her longtime boyfriend while falling passionately in love with the man's younger brother Ronny Cammareri (Nicolas Cage); when Cage admitted: "I'm in love with you," Cher unromantically responded: "Snap out of it!"
  • the updated Cyrano de Bergerac-style romancing by the witty, huge-nosed fire chief (Steve Martin) through his shy tutor - toward the beautiful Roxanne (Daryl Hannah) in Roxanne (1987)
  • the challenging bet given John Malkovich by Glenn Close that he can't seduce virginal Michelle Pfeiffer in the screen version of the 18th century novel Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
  • the love triangle between Daniel Day-Lewis, his wife Juliette Binoche, and provocative artist Lena Olin during the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
  • the investigation (and disruption) of the sex lives of a childless married couple (Peter Gallagher and Andie MacDowell) and the wife's adulterous sister (Laura San Giacomo) by a voyeuristic, impotent video filmmaker (James Spader) in Steven Soderbergh's debut film sex, lies, and videotape (1989)
  • the old-fashioned, on-again, off-again twelve-year relationship between the cute Meg Ryan and jokester Billy Crystal in the witty When Harry Met Sally...(1989); with the infamous faked Big O scene in a deli

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