Thursday, February 8, 2018

Thursday Movie Picks #187: Romance

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week the theme is a very broad one, that of romance. This is an easy one, because goodness knows how many love stories there are out on the screen. As usual, I've picked three older movies, although one of them I hate with a passion:

Sissi (1955). This one tells the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary (played by gorgeous Romy Schneider), nicknamed "Sissi" and consort of Franz Josef II (Karlheinz Böhm). The first film in a trilogy, this one tells how Sissi, daughter of a Bavarian nobleman, meets Franz Josef and they immediately fall in love without him knowing her true identity and she not knowing that both families are trying to get him married to her elder sister. The romance is impossibly syrupy, but the color cinematography and the set design combined with extensive location shooting make this a sumptuous movie to watch.

A Little Romance (1979). Diane Lane plays a young American girl stuck in Paris while her stepfather is there on business. She meets a young French boy (Thelonious Bernard) and they immediately fall in love. Then they meet a kindly crook (Laurence Olivier) who tells them the bogus legend that if they kiss under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice at sunset, they'll be in love forever. So the three run away and make their way to Italy, with her parents and the police in hot pursuit.

Random Harvest (1942). God how I hate this movie. Ronald Colman plays the scion of a wealthy family who suffers an injury in World War I that leaves him with amnesia and no idea who he is. At this point he meets music hall singer Greer Garson, and the two live in a cottage to get away from the authorities (not knowing they want to return him to his real family). The two fall in love until he suffers another accident that erases all his post-war memories but brings back all the pre-war memories! Ridiculous. Greer than moves to be near him and be his executive assistant even though he has no idea the two of them were ever in love. Sissi is sappy in a good way; this is sappier than any Christmas movie you'd see on the Hallmark Channel or anything that would show up on the Lifetime Network.


joel65913 said...

I just saw the whole Sissi trilogy (and the much less impressive cobbled together dubbed version Forever, My Love) on TCM recently and really enjoyed the entire thing. The romance is a bit to geez whiz, golly gosh sweet but you're spot on about the production values and cinematography. Both are breathtaking as is Romy.

A Little Romance is a lovely film with Olivier having a high old time and pouring on charm with a twinkle in his eye.

I don't hate Random Harvest nearly as much as you but agree that it's a ridiculous movie and I don't understand why it was such an enormous hit in its day nor why its venerated now. But I do like both Greer and Colman and that took much of the sting out of it for me. I only watched it the once though.

An almost impossible number of choices so I just went with three favorites.

Waterloo Bridge (1940)-A distinguished officer walks slowly across London’s Waterloo Bridge one evening during WWII pulling a talisman out of his pocket he falls into a reverie of his great lost love. On that same bridge in WWI then young soldier Roy Cronin (Robert Taylor) meets ballerina Myra Lester (Vivien Leigh-fresh off GWTW) when they are forced into a shelter during a bombing raid. Falling almost immediately in love they plan to marry but Roy is called to duty before they can and Myra pledges to wait for him. Having stayed out with him beyond curfew she is dismissed from the ballet and when Roy is reported killed in action full of hopelessness she falls into a life of degradation. On the stroll a year later in Waterloo Station Myra meets Roy, recently released as a prisoner of war and he whisks her off to his family estate in Scotland but is it too late for the pair? Beautifully directed by George Cukor, tragic and heart wrenching romance was the personal favorite of both Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor of their respective filmographies.

The President’s Lady (1953)-In 1789 newly appointed Tennessee Attorney General Andrew Jackson (Charlton Heston) seeking living quarters at the farm of the Widow Donelson (Fay Bainter) meets her daughter Rachel Robards (Susan Hayward) recently separated from her abusive husband Lewis. They strike up a friendship and after an abortive attempt by Rachel to repair her marriage fall in love. Word soon arrives that Lewis has divorced her and the pair marry. Two years hence they discover that Lewis never finalized the papers and their union is bigamist, he is now suing on the grounds of adultery however. Truly free they remarry but scandal plagues them for the rest of their days as Andrew rises higher and higher in politics towards the presidency but their love remains strong. Tender romance with a very strong central performance by Susan Hayward looks at the mores of an earlier time and shows that mudslinging and the damage it causes are nothing new.

Love with the Proper Stranger (1963)-Young naïve Angie Rossini (Natalie Wood) finds herself in quite a predicament after letting her guard down once and having a one night stand with feckless musician Rocky Papasano (Steve McQueen)….she’s pregnant. Seeking Rocky out she finds he at first doesn’t remember her but he steps up to help with the situation and despite interference from her very Italian family, his former showgirl squeeze and Rocky’s fears an attraction slowly blooms but there are bumps ahead before romance triumphs. Two movie stars at their peaks make this both gritty and swoony at the same time.

Wendell Ottley said...

I'm out of the loop on this one. Haven't heard of any of those. Sigh.

Katie Hogan said...

Ah A Little Romance i've heard of - i think someone else chose this for another theme. i really want to see this!

Birgit said...

I have not seen any of these but wanted to see the Sissi trilogy for ever it seems like. I have been to Austria and she is venerated there to this day. She was the Lady Diana of her day. I would love to see A Fine Romace....sounds sweet. I want to see Random Harvest even though I am not. Huge fan of Greer Garson