Nora Ephron has inspired me. She published her top 11 romantic comedies (11? Ok, whatever I’ll take the extra slot). Her list includes His Girl Friday, The Apartment, Charade, It Happened One Night and Splash (I did not see that one coming) all very deserving classics, but would they make my list of great romantic comedies? I’ve been pondering that question in honor of Valentines...love and all the ways movies have made a boy gets girl ending. I offer this refute:
Kristen’s Top 11 Romantic Comedies*
1. Pillow Talk – Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Thelma Ritter, Tony Randell, split screen technology, a party line, great cloths and romantic hijinks that cultivate in a fertility goddess and a display of the most un-sexy pajamas every worn on screen. It is what you get when you have perfect casting up against an airtight comedy script (which won the Oscar, by the way).
2. The Philadelphia Story – The ultimate love triangle - Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart all in one movie! Directed by George Cukor this film brought Hepburn back to Hollywood but more importantly it perfectly captures the high-society mating dance. I’d also like to give a special mention to Ruth Hussey as photographer Liz Imbrie, the girl who waits for her guy to figure out she was in front of him all along.
3. Moonstruck – There are so many great lines in this movie instead of quoting it it’s easier to recite the whole thing. Cher sparkled, Nicholas Cage was not desperate for money, Olympia Dukakis stole every scene she was in and Toronto actually looked like Brooklyn. I have watched this movie over and over and I can watch it again.
4. Bridget Jones’s Diary – I love this movie because Renee Zellweger as Bridget had to gain weight to play a “normal” girl and Hugh Grant is perfectly cast as Hugh Grant (I mean Daniel Cleaver) and lets bottom line this really…it’s because of Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, he’s Mr. Darcy again only in suits. It is a modern day Jane Austen telling, and I never get tired of Jane Austen.
5. Working Girl – That stupid song gets me every time. I admit I hear it in my brain the minute I step onto the Staten Island Ferry and I LOVE it. Which is better - the random coked up Kevin Spacey or the young and thin Alec Baldwin? Joan Cusack as Cyn should have won the Oscar and I haven’t even mentioned the lead actors yet, that’s how great this movie is - every bit part is memorable (Hello Ricki Lake at the wedding!!). When Jack packs Tess’s lunch I sigh and when Tess walks into her own office (with a window) I want to cheer. It has it all.
6. Casablanca – So many people think Casablanca is just a romance, but it is a comedy I assure you. The best lines are between Rick and Captain Renault. They riff off of each other so well you can miss it. I have to agree with Nora on this choice.
7. The Princess Bride – It is a fairy tail, it is an adventure it is a perfect romance with laughs that keep coming even into the culminating kiss being interrupted by Peter Falk and Fred Savage. Where else can you find such romantic enchantment wrapped up in a land of crazy characters and not have it animated?
8. When Harry Met Sally – I get that Nora could not put her own movie on her list, but you know she thought about it. A classic friends to lovers story with an amazing shelf life, you can only tell it’s not current because Meg Ryan’s lips are normal size.
9. What’s Up Doc – The first time I saw this homage to 30’s screwball comedy I laughed until I cried. Barbra Streisand, Ryan O'Neal, and Madeline Kahn (in her first movie) are so funny you forget they are movie stars – well you never forget Streisand is Streisand – but everyone else is believable. It is madcap fun and a romance that succeeds in honoring what came before it.
10. Something’s Gotta Give – The best grown up romance on screen, Diane Keaton is so sophisticated and sexy that you never question young hot Dr. Keanu Reeves going after her and Jack Nicholson finally does what he can’t seem to do in real life – date age appropriate women. It is the ultimate fantasy where every home is perfect, every life is filled with creativity and wealth and two men chase the lady to Paris.
11. Richard Curtis - the man behind Notting Hill, Four Weddings & A Funeral, Love Actually….I could not choose between them so I am honoring the man. His stories of romance and the obstacles on the path to the happy ending never get old. He has a formula that mixes crazy best friends and roommates with movie stars and chic American strangers, but why he’s great is the infused heartbreak in every story. He turns down the saccharin levels with reality and that’s why his stories are believable. For every happy ending there is also someone hurt; remember Fiona telling Charles she loved him; or Emma Thompson getting the CD? Even Notting Hill had the hurt of a failing restaurant. He tells the whole story of love and we can all relate.
*This list is subject to change because I will remember a movie as soon as I hit publish that I won’t be able to believe I forget.