Sunday, January 30, 2011

Top 5 Romantic Comedies - #1

Number one on my list of best romantic comedies is my favorite movie of all genres.  I make a point to watch it every year around the holidays. 

The Philadelphia Story (1940) stars Katherine Hepburn (Tracy Lord), Cary Grant (C.K. Dexter Haven), and Jimmy Stewart (Macaulay Conner).  The movie explores the difference in social classes, and it explores Tracy's struggle with accepting human imperfection.  It is my favorite movie because of the sophisticated, witty dialogue (excerpt below). 

The movie opens with a silent scene where Dexter puts his hand on Tracy's face and shoves her down, telling you a little about the characters and that you-the audience-are in for a real treat.  This is at the time Dexter and Tracy get divorced. 

Two years later, Tracy (from a higher social class) is about to remarry a self-made man named Kittredge (John Howard).  Dexter (also from the higher class) decides to put a kink in those plans.  His kink involves two SPY magazine reporters, Macauley and Miss Imbrie (Ruth Hussey).

Dexter (Grant):  You don't look as well as well as when I last saw you, Kittredge.  Oh, you poor fellow.  I know just how you feel...  (He looks at Tracy)  Why, you don't look old enough to get married.  Not even the first time.  And then you never did.  She needs trouble to mature her, Kittredge.  Give her lots of it.

Kittredge:  I'm afraid she can't count on me for that. 

Dexter:  No, that's too bad.  Sometimes, for your own sake, Red, I think you should have stuck to me longer.

Tracy:  I thought it was for life, but the nice judge gave me a full pardon.

Dexter:  Aw, that's the old redhead, no bitterness, no recrimination, just a good swift left in the jaw.

The Philadelphia Story received six Oscar nominations.  Jimmy Stewart won for Best Supporting Actor, and Donald Ogden Stewart won for Best Screenplay.  The film revived Hepburn's career and broke a box office record at Radio City Music Hall.

Here's the opending scene (you can't help but laugh):


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Top 5 Romantic Comedies - #2

It Happened One Night has been credited for jump-starting the romantic comedy.  Produced in 1934 with only a $325,000 budget, the movie surprised everyone and won all five of the top Oscar categories - Best Picture, Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Actress (Claudette Colbert), Best Director (Frank Capra), and Best Adaptation.  This feat was unrivaled until 1975 with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

In theaters during the Great Depression, It Happened One Night allowed movie goers an escape from the troubling times.  It made them laugh.  It also inspired Friz Freleng's infamous cartoon characters - Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, and Pepe LePew. 

It Happened One Night follows Claudette's character, Ellie, as she runs away from her rich father.  She takes a night bus to New York and meets Gable's character, Peter, who is a jobless journalist.  He agrees to help her return to her husband (whom she married against her father's wishes and was unable to consummate the marriage) if she will allow him exclusive rights to her story.  The two make a deal.

And - of course - end up falling in love.

Here is the famous hitchhiking scene from the movie, where Ellie proves "once and for all that the limb is mighter than the thumb."

If you haven't seen it - or haven't seen it in a while - watch it and enjoy the escape :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Orangutan and the Hound

This video was e-mailed to me this morning. It made me smile, so I thought I would share.

Orangutan and the Hound

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Top 5 Romantic Comedies - #3

Number three on my list is a romantic comedy set in the church of baseball.  It's better known and loved as a sports movie than a romantic comedy; however, I love the romance of Bull Durham, the attraction of experience and wisdom over youth and naivete.

Susan Sarandon's character (Annie) picks Nuke (Tim Robbins) as her seasonal lover and student in her pagan church of baseball.  She picks Nuke because he is impressionable. But it is Crash (Kevin Costner) who peaks her curiosity, because he matches her on an intellectual level that Nuke can't.  He knows who he is and what he likes and doesn't like - an appealing quality in any romance story's hero, to my way of thinking.

One of my favorite oft-quoted movie lines was said by Annie:  "The world was made for those who aren't cursed with self-awareness."  (In case you are wondering - I'm cursed.)

Bull Durham is ranked #55 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies and #97 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs list.

Here is Crash's "I believe..." speech.  Enjoy :)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Top 5 Romantic Comedies - #4

"The stars awaken a certain reverence, because
Though always thought present, they are inaccessible;
But all natural objects make a kindred impression,
When the mind is open to their influence."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Though Emerson was talking about the stars, the same can be said of the moon, which influences the characters in the romantic comedy I have chosen as number four.

Wikipedia defines a romantic comedy as "a lighthearted film, with humorous plotlines, centered around romantic ideals like true love."  I would not call Moonstruck a lighthearted film.  Fear, grudges, and deception play a major role in the movie.  The comedy emerges from how the characters react to their emotions and the situation those emotions land them in.

Ronny Cammareri (Nicolas Cage): "Playing it safe is just about the most dangerous thing a woman like you can do.  I mean, you waited for the right man the first time.  Why didn't you wait for the right man again?"
Loretta Castorini (Cher):  "Because he didn't come."
Ronny (Cage):  "I'm here."
Loretta (Cher):  "You're late."

And thus the central plot of the movie.  Loretta is engaged to Ronny's brother, Johnny.  When Ronny tells Loretta that he loves her, Loretta delivers the most famous line from the movie, "Snap out of it!"

There is a yearning in this movie that grabs me every time I watch it.  I love Olympia Dukakis's character, Rose.  My absolute favorite line of the movie is hers, when she is faced with the opportunity to invite a man who is not her husband, into her home.

Rose (Dukakis):  "I'm not going to invite you in.  Not because I'm married, but because I know who I am."


(I'm having so much fun revisiting these movies!!)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Top 5 Romantic Comedies - #5

Over the past month, I've spend a majority of my time studying for a professional certification exam.  I took it yesterday and passed.  (Yay, me!)  Now is the perfect time to give my fried brain cells a break and watch a feel-good romantic comedy.

I must admit, when I said I would decide on my Top 5 favorite romantic comedies, I was quite naive about how hard it would be to narrow them down.  This was tough.

#5 - When Harry Met Sally

I complained in my initial blog about recent romantic comedies having ho-hum dialogue.  Number five on my list is probably one of the most quoted rom com's on the internet.  Nora Ephron's dialogue is sharp and witty, keeping us entertained as Sally and Harry fumble through their relationship.  Even macho men admit to really liking this movie.  How many romantic comedy films can say that?

When Harry Met Sally raises the debate about whether or not men and women can be friends.  It never really answers the question, leaving us to decide for ourselves.  What it does show; however, is that you CAN be friends and lovers. 

The reason I put this movie in my top five is because of the ending.  True love is about knowing and accepting the good and bad trains of the other person, even the parts of their personality that make you crazy.

Crazy love = good romantic comedy.

"I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out.  I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich.  I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts.  I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes.  And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night."

-Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Are We in the Romantic Comedy Dark Ages?

I watched ABC's Nightline last night, which featured a segment titled, "Shaky Times for the Rom Com."  In the segment, Terry Moran states that the "current crop of romantic comedies leaves no doubt its golden age is over."

Sadly, I agree.  When I compare current romantic comedies with classics like When Harry Met Sally and Bringing Up Baby, I find current movies unable to measure up.

Rom Com's address our most common desires (love/connection) and fears (intimacy/rejection).  When a rom com works, it is because it satisfies the viewer's need to see the hero/heroine overcoming conflict through character growth.  In my opinion, recent movies seem over the top and/or they cop out to simple solutions.  The dialogue is often flat.  They may contain funny moments, but I have felt cheated by the endings. 

The fact that Hollywood cannot come up with better romantic comedies floors me, especially considering how romance novels have been selling since 2009.  Romance novels are primarly read by women in a romantic relationship, age 31-49.  I don't have statistics to prove it, but I would venture to guess that these women are also a primary audience for the romantic comedy film.  There is an audience out there.  Surely it is worth Hollywood's time and money to make good romantic comedy films.

Starting next week, I'm going to review my Top 5 favorite romantic comedies.  Stay tuned to see who is number one and why...