GUEST BLOG: Romancing the Film by Marissa DayTuesday, June 19, 2012 10:00
I didn’t come to a love of Romance and romantic fiction through books. I never read a book that could be shelved in the Romance section until I was out of college and slaving over a hot word processor trying to build my career.
I came to Romance through the movies. I’m a fan of old movies, and have been since the days when they still played them on Channel 50 at four o’clock and Ted Turner was still trying to convince people that colorization was the way of the future.
I know it’s summer. I know I should be outside doing…outside things. Vacation things. But my favorite way to relax in any season remains a refreshing beverage, some quality couch time, and a romantic movie. This list covers some of my favorites. These are mostly classics, and all are out on video, so they can be found pretty easily.
Being a fan of the Hollywood musical as well as old movies, I have to have a Fred Astaire movie on the list, but my favorite Astaire is not one of the big hits with Ginger Rogers. My favorite Fred Astaire is Broadway Melody of 1940, which starred Astaire and Eleanor Powell. Not only is the story, fun but it has one of the sweetest solo numbers ever, with Astaire dancing with a photo of Powell, not realizing she’s watching him in the background.
I’m also a huge Gene Kelly fan, but again, when trying to pick the most romantic of his films, it’s a lesser known one I really love. Summer Stock, with Gene Kelly and Judy Garland is probably the ultimate example of the “Hey, we’ve got a barn, let’s put on a show!” movie. The twist is Garland is a no-nonsense Yankee farm woman who is in danger of losing her land, and she’s not going to be charmed by this city slicker and his intrepid band of hoofers. Really, she’s not. At all. Period. Nu-uh. The “challenge dance” is a world of fun. Garland is in magnificent voice, and while it doesn’t have one of Kelly’s big production numbers, he does some stellar dancing in confined spaces.
One of the greatest — possibly the greatest — screen couples of all time is of course Bogey and Bacall, and the movie scene that sizzles with more heat than any other is found in To Have and Have Not. It’s the “you know how to whistle” scene, and it remains as steamy, as sexy as the day it was made. My second favorite of theirs is The Big Sleep, with Bogey as detective Philip Marlowe and Bacall the femme fatale.
Jane Eyre has been filmed a lot. I still love the story, but my favorite version is the made for TV mini-series that starts Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester. Come on. Timothy Dalton (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001096/) in buckskin breeches. Need one say more?
I also want to put in a bid for Much Ado About Nothing, the 1993 version with Kenneth Brannaugh and Emma Thompson. The pair of them are utterly brilliant, the production is lush, and the scene in the chapel is vibrant in its intensity. Plus, it has the funniest scene with a deck chair ever filmed.
I do have a most favorite romantic film. I change entertainment favorites frequently, fickle soul that I am, but not this one. This is it. My most favorite romantic film of all time is The Barretts of Wimpole Street. As you might expect, it’s the story of the romance between the poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. The 1934 version is the one you have to see, not only because it has one of the finest classic dramatic actresses, Norma Shearer, as Elizabeth and a young, cheerful, intense Fredric March as Robert, but because Elizabeth’s domineering, villainous father is played by great Charles Laughton. They actually had to tone down the final scene between Elizabeth and her father to get it past the censors, but the triumph of love and resolve at the end makes all the struggle worth it.
So, what are you watching this summer?