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Hopeless Romantics: The Film Fatales Pick Their Favorite Cinematic Sagas of Love

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We may be two of the most sarcastic broads to live and breathe, but — believe it or not – we both often fall victim to the sappier side of ourselves and enjoy a romantic movie, or two, or three, now and again. We know… We know… You’re probably thinking that’s just not possible. Oh, but it is. And, here’s the proof: We’re listing our favorite cinematic romances. (And, by the way, we’re very interested in what your picks are. So, remember to add your own list in the comments section of this post.)

elizabeth’s Favorite Romantic Movies

way we wereThe Way We Were
Starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand

Two desperate people have a wonderful romance, but their political views and convictions drive them apart. (IMDb)

There is such an interesting storyline in this flick besides the freaking chemistry between Bob and Babs. People in Hollywood were being blacklisted for their beliefs and while Katie made waves, Hubbell just wanted smooth sailing in their lives. That ultimately doomed these lovers. I didn’t believe for a sec that their love wouldn’t last a lifetime even after Katie stopped getting her hair ironed. And, the one scene that was rumored to have Redford sans clothing in bed – well, let me just say that the thought of it kept me warm in winter.  I am ready to be hosed down.

annie hall

Annie Hall
Starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton
Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall. (IMDb)
You can’t live in New York City and not want to be in a Woody Allen movie. His love affair with the city was evident in every movie filmed there and Allen always framed her in the best light possible–which made for such a wonderful backdrop for the two neurotic lovers. I loved the dialogue, the music, Keaton wearing ties, and that line that runs through my head nearly every day – La Di La. As a New Yorker, I wanted their life – right up to their painful breakup. I have had my own breakups. Thank you very much.

an affair to rememberAn Affair to Remember
Starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr
A couple falls in love and agrees to meet in six months at the Empire State Building – but will it happen? (IMDb)
This was my first intro to romance on the screen. Every year my mother and older sister cried their eyes out at the end of this movie. Once I started to wear a bra, I got it. Boys might be a good thing. Here we are in New York City again and after meeting on a cruise, Nicky Ferrante and Terry McKay make a pact to meet at the top of the Empire State Building in six months. Why six months? Because they are engaged to other people. Will they show up or will some tragedy keep them apart? I’m not telling. Rent the movie, but do not forget the hankies.

love actuallyLove Actually
Starring  Hugh Grant , Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Martine McCutcheon, Bill Nighy and Rowan Atkinson

Follows the lives of eight very different couples in dealing with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England. (IMDb)
Look at this cast – it is like a who’s who of the men I would run away with. Except for Rowan – that man scares me to death. He is like a circus clown without the red nose. Me and Circuses – read all about it when my memoir comes out. This movie is so charming and even writing about it leaves me grinning ear to ear. It’s all about finding love, falling in love, and reminding us all that love is supposed to take our breaths away and make a mockery out of our knocking knees. I don’t care–can one of you gents call me?

breakfast at tiffanysBreakfast at Tiffany’s
Starring Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard and the cat
A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building.(IMDb)
I have to say that this movie‘s plot is so thick with twists and turns that it left me wondering how the hell did they found love? But love does triumph in the end. I hope they never do a remake of this movie because there is only one Holly Golightly and Hepburn has the rights to that role forever.  The fashion was just so chic and cool and speaking of cool, Peppard’s performance was of a blocked writer falling in love, but he was careful to wait till Holly came to her senses. So cool.

last of the mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe
Three trappers protect a British Colonel’s daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War.(IMDb)
This movie had a very strong storyline and it keeps your pulse racing through most of it because it pins love against war. Okay, who am I kidding? Great movie, but the racing of the pulses had to come from Daniel Day-Lewis running, sitting, speaking, breathing. Let’s bring back long hair for men. Do it for me. And it was an excellent movie. Blah, blah, blah.

bridget jones diaryBridget  Jones’ Diary
Starring Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth
A British woman is determined to improve herself while she looks for love in a year in which she keeps a personal diary.(IMDb)
This movie is about telling the truth. We women are imperfect creatures who are looking for love. We make massive mistakes and we do it all in the name of love. And some of us keep a journal. Burning mine right now. Zellweger is the Every Woman plotting to find Mr. Right or Mr. Right for Right Now. She gets to play with Colin Firth and Hugh Grant and she wears grandma underwear.  It was a nearly perfect romantic comedy except for that dreadful Christmas sweater that Mr. Darcy, that is Firth’s Mark Darcy donned. But truth be told – he can wear anything.

touch of minkThat Touch of Mink
Starring Cary Grant and Doris Day
A rich businessman and a young woman are attracted to each other, but he only wants an affair while she wants to save her virginity for marriage. (IMDb)
Sometimes it is fun to just go back in time and find a silly jewel like a Touch of Mink. You know the boy will get the girl in the end so why does she keep fighting? Because this is the time of twin beds and no sex before marriage. You know, like life in the 21st century. Exactly. Cary Grant and Doris Day do make for a very likeable pair in this cat and mouse chase. Let’s face it – if Cary Grant showed up in a Rolls Royce and splashed me with mud, I would just jump into the back seat and pop open a bottle of his best champagne.

hannah and her sistersHannah and Her Sisters
Staring Woody Allen, Barbra Hershey, Michael Caine, and Diane Wiest
Between two Thanksgivings, Hannah’s husband falls in love with her sister Lee, while her hypochondriac ex-husband rekindles his relationship with her sister Holly.(IMDb)
Woody Allen’s movies make me joyful when he sticks to the foibles that befall his characters and their ability or inability to get love right. Watching people fall in love on the screen is not like being bumped on the head – it is more like a soft kiss on the lips because I think Allen wants you to be there when it happens. The dialogue, the funky fashion and his love of NYC are so evident in this movie. And I always found the young Allen to be kind of sexy. There I said it!

harold and maudeHarold and Maude
Starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort
Young, rich, and obsessed with death, Harold finds himself changed forever when he meets lively septuagenarian Maude at a funeral. (IMDb)
If this post just gets a few people to rent this movie, then I will be happy. It is not your typical love story, but it does make you believe in the wonderment of two souls finding each other at the exact right times in their lives. Love should teach us a thing or two about life, and Gordon’s brilliant portrayal of Maude comes to the rescue and saves Cort’s Harold from thinking of ending his life sooner than necessary.

Nicole’s Favorite Romantic Movies

when harry met sallyWhen Harry Met Sally
Starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal
Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship. [IMDb]
The perfect and wonderful combination of humor and sentiment. Well, what else could you expect from Nora Ephron and Rob Reiner? This movie is the benchmark for all modern romantic comedies. The chemistry between Ryan and Crystal (the odd couple) is delightful; they play off each other so well…making that final New Year’s Eve scene all the more fulfilling. I could literally watch this movie every day and never tire of it.

wuthering heightsWuthering Heights (1992)
Starring Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche
A man becomes obsessed with vengeance when his soul mate marries another man. [IMDb]
What I love about this adaptation is its loyalty to the source material. The filmmakers were very careful not to stray. When I read Wuthering Heights, I picture Fiennes and Binoche as Heathcliff and Cathy—they are so well matched. But it’s Fiennes’ intensity that will remain poignant for me. His reaction to Cathy’s death is burned in my memory…the second that scene begins, I’m already weeping like a spineless romantic fool.

pride and predjudicePride & Prejudice (2005)
Starring Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen
Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice? [IMDb]
Believe it or not, I much prefer this version over the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle one. Crazy, huh? I think it has everything to do with that scene in the field near the Bennet homestead. How Darcy is walking with such distinct purpose with the sun rising at his back…and how he utters those words: “You have bewitched me body and soul and I love…I love… I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.” Sigh… Just put it on a loop and I’ll sit there gladly swooning.

age of innocenceThe Age of Innocence
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Michele Pfeiffer
Tale of 19th century New York high society in which a young lawyer falls in love with a woman separated from her husband, while he is engaged to the woman’s cousin. [IMDb]
OMG. I can’t. I just can’t even. The exquisite torture of Day-Lewis’ Newland Archer kills me without mercy during each repeated viewing. Can anyone ever get the coach scene, when he unbuttons her glove and has at her wrist, out of their head? Or, the scene in the parlor when they collapse on each other realizing their fate as star-crossed, unrequited lovers? Dear God… I will never, ever get over it. And, I don’t want to.

philadelphia storyThe Philadelphia Story
Starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant
When a rich woman’s ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself. [IMDb]
Name me a man more perfect than Cary Grant; I dare you. There is none. Don’t argue with me. Period. But, let’s examine for a minute why Cary Grant is so perfect: he wasn’t afraid to be slapstick then turn on a dime and sweep a woman off her feet with his irresistible charm. Is it any wonder then why Tracy Lord tosses aside two quite dashing suitors for C.K. Dexter Haven—for the second time? No, there’s no questioning her choice whatsoever.

out of africaOut of Africa
Starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford
In 20th century colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate love affair with a free-sprited big-game hunter. [IMDb]
Who knew something as simple a man helping a woman wash her hair could be so heart-piercingly romantic? Of course, it helps a tremendous deal when that man happens to be Robert Redford. The chemistry between Streep and Redford is palpable. And, it’s heartbreaking. I don’t think I will ever be able to watch those final scenes without keeping myself in one piece.

bridges of madison countyThe Bridges of Madison County
Starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep
Photographer Robert Kincaid wanders into the life of housewife Francesca Johnson, for four days in the 1960s. [IMDb]
I will preface this by saying Robert Redford was supposed to play Clint Eastwood’s part, and for that reason it would have been an infinitely better movie than it is. Still, it’s a pretty damn romantic movie. And Streep is just so wonderful as the conflicted and lovelorn Francesca. Your heart bleeds for the choice she must make.

sleepless in seattleSleepless in Seattle
Starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks
A recently-widowed man’s son calls a radio talk show in an attempt to find his father a partner. [IMDb]
This movie totally ruined me for reality. Laugh, go ahead. It’s true. A part of me still believes in this soul mate crap. (Oh, let’s face it, a part of me always will.) And, Ryan and Hanks – though they share very little screen time in this film – are infectiously adorable as two people drawn to each other by the hands of fate.

end of the affairThe End of the Affair
Starring Julianne Moore, Stephen Rea, and Ralph Fiennes

On a rainy London night in 1946, novelist Maurice Bendrix has a chance meeting with Henry Miles, husband of his ex-mistress Sarah, who abruptly ended their affair two years before. [IMDb]
Adapted from the titular Graham Greene novel, and relatively loyally done, this is one of the most complicated love triangles to ever grace the silver screen. Actually, you might call it a love quadrangle, because Sarah has another being she’s devoted to (in addition to her husband Henry and her lover Miles)…God. Your heart bleeds for Fienne’s Maurice, whose love for Sarah is filled with both conflicted anger and tortured obsession. The Blitz scene is certainly difficult to loose from your mind.

room with a view

A Room with a View
Starring Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands
When Lucy Honeychurch and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett find themselves in Florence with rooms without views, fellow guests Mr. Emerson and son George step in to remedy the situation. [IMDb]
Find me one woman on this planet who doesn’t swoon when Lucy happens into the poppy-strewn wheat field where George is admiring the Tuscan vista…catches sight of her, and lies upon her one of cinematic history’s most romantic kisses. The woman who is not made wobbly in the knees by this scene simply does not exist. Or, if she does, she’s dead inside.

So—what say you?
Tell us what your top Romantic Movies are in the comments section.
We’re anxious to read your responses.

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10 comments on “Hopeless Romantics: The Film Fatales Pick Their Favorite Cinematic Sagas of Love

  1. Ohhhh, fab list. Who could ever forget ‘When Harry Met Sally’? But what about Notting Hill?? Just a girl standing in front of a boy… Sniffle. Thanks for sharing, ladies. I think I may have to make up a re-watch list.

  2. Nicole says:

    All great picks, ladies. Glad you liked the post. Thanks for reading and sharing :) — Nicole, one half of the film Fatales.

  3. OOOOO, THE WAY WE WERE moves me to tears every. single. time.
    I just can’t get enough of k-k-Katie! I know all of the dialogue, too!

    Adored Bridges, too—- & OUT OF AFRICA. WOW!!!!!!!!! xx

    Great Picks.

    • elizabeth says:

      Kim- people used to say I reminded them of k-k-Katie and I wish I had a chance to sleep with Mr. Redford! :-) the movie still makes me cry because they do seem to love each other deeply, but alas can;t get their acts together!

  4. I’m so glad you had Bridges of Madison Country – it’s one of my favourite love stories as a book. I agree that Clint Eastwood was not quite right – Robert Redford would have been a better casting, but it is a wonderful story all the same.

    One of my favourites not on your list is Moulin Rouge – my daughter and I sit and blub to it at least once a year. The music and spectacular cinematography coupled with the love story really get to you. I’m a sucker for opera and this takes the story straight from La Traviata and mixes it with modern music.

  5. What a commendable list – some of my firm favourites plus a couple I’d actually forgotten about over time! Love Actually is one of my top feel-good films of all time; Breakfast at Tiffany’s – divine; and Daniel Day Lewis was heart-stopping in The Last of the Mohicans! I would also add The Lucky One with Zac Efron – he’s very easy on the eye … ha! ha!

  6. There are so many that I LOVE on here. I have to say that When Harry Met Sally will always be a fave. I think I can recite the entire movie almost verbatim. There are just so many. Love Actually is always a favorite too. :) Then there’s Cary Grant… Ah…

  7. Alice says:

    You guys need to stay up later…Random Harvest with Greer Garson and Ronald Coleman. Think it was 1941 or 1942.

  8. I enjoy your “columns” SO MUCH, every time!! Both of you chose several of my favorites already, but I will add a few that you missed, just to be helpful. ;)

    1) You’ve Got Mail, with Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan, written by Nora Ephron and her sister, Delia, and directed by Nora. I think anything with the Hanks/Ryan/Ephron team is gold. And this one also has a great supporting cast (Jean Stapleton, Dabney Coleman, Greg Kinnear) and a terrific soundtrack. Funny, romantic and bittersweet all at the same time.

    2) Witness, an oldie but goodie, with Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. I think it’s the only time Ford was nominated for an Oscar, and I’ll go to my grave saying it’s his best role (though Han and Indy aren’t too shabby). The romantic tension between Ford and Amish widow McGillis is incredible.

    3) A Walk on the Moon – Viggo Mortensen and Diane Lane. Nuff said.

  9. Janice says:

    Oh wow wow wow – what a list and there are some here I haven’t seen. I can feel a movie night coming on! To add to your list – my favourite romantic movie in the whole wide world (and I have watched it dozens of times over) Six Days Seven Nights – with Harrison Ford and Anne Heche. That movie has everything I want in love story. Sigh….

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