Melodramas, Tragedies and Period Pieces! Oh my!

So in the last post I covered the history of the romantic comedy, but let's say that for some reason you'd rather cry than laugh and you want something that packs a little bit more of an emotional punch. The romance genre has so many types of films to offer: some manipulative, some overly dramatic, and some genuine. Since I can't cover them ALL, I decided to give you a sampling of all the types of pure romance films, cinema has served up over the course of its existence. I thought it'd be fun to once again revisit the decade by decade approach, but this time the films were chosen to only partly represent the decade as a whole, as much as they were to represent the different range the romantic drama is capable of.

1920's SUNRISE - Okay...how is this for a romantic premise: A woman convinces the man she is having an affair with to murder his wife so they can be together...only to have the man rediscover his feelings for his wife right as he is about to kill her. Alright it sounds pretty much impossible to pull off (and seriously unbelievably daring for a film of this period) but SOMEHOW this movie does! Being a silent film, no words are ever actually uttered...but the scenes are beautiful and the glances longing as this couple falls in love all over again.

1930's GONE WITH THE WIND - The giant romance spectacle that inspired them all. You don't get much bigger than this (even if you're attempting to be. *cough Titanic cough*) Audiences loved the complicated romance between Rhett and Scarlett so much, it still remains the biggest box office success in history (when a little thing called inflation is taken into account.) And even with four hours worth of screen time these crazy kids can never seem to both be in the same place at the same time. The film is absolutely a classic and features one of the greatest lines (as well as endings,) in cinema history.

1940's CASABLANCA - If we're talking about romances, this film was bound to come up sooner or later. Casablanca isn't just one of the best romances ever made, it's one of the best films ever created period. So much care is found in every aspect of this film. This is a beautiful love story carried out by two very capable actors. There are so many wonderfully iconic moments and so much great dialogue. This is a romance that will forever be in the hearts of all lovers of cinema. It definitely should be seen at least once in anyone's lifetime.

1950's A SUMMER PLACE - This film is so deliciously soapy it's ridiculous. Seriously I kind of love the romance dramas if this era. Every obstacle to love is pretty much the end of the world...and nothing can comfort you but the solace of an embrace with your forbidden love. Seriously....the pain and the yearning...it's all unthinkable!! The worst ever possible tragedy? How about you become stepsister or stepbrother to your significant other when your parents remarry!?!? Oh the horror!!!

1960's WEST SIDE STORY - This musical retelling of Romeo and Juliet is absolutely unforgettable. Of course a lot of this has to do with choreography and the overall style of the film...but the romance itself is very noteworthy as well. Amazingly, I've heard that Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer disliked one another a great deal. You would NEVER guess it because Maria and Tony seem to be as in love with each other as anyone could possibly be. Unlike many other romances, this one feels genuine!

1970's LOVE STORY - Oh the melodrama of the 70's!! If it wasn't Barbra Streisand getting her heart broken, someone else was being diagnosed with a terminal disease. Whatever the case, the dramas were always weepies. This film is a landmark because it HAS to be Nicholas Sparks' favorite movie and inspiration for everything he has ever written. This film is certainly entertaining, and if you're in need of a year jerker...it's true you could do better (see previous decade,) but you could definitely do worse!

1980's THE PRINCESS BRIDE - So many movies to pick from this decade! I was very close to picking Say Anything since I absolutely love the teen films of the 80's...but since I feel like the '80's was all about the popcorn movies, I went with The Princess Bride. In contrast with the '70's, the romances had a lot more whimsy and strove to be more fairy tale like. I'll be honest, I do enjoy this movie...but I've never really gotten the obsession with it. Still, I understand and respect its influence. There's plenty of unforgettable moments, the leads have great chemistry and of course it had it's fair share of quotable lines.

1990's TITANIC - A lot to choose from the 90's as well...but once again, I'll go with the obvious choice. Now, I stress this movie was no masterpiece but I must admit that it is in fact entertaining. Certainly a lot of that is due to spectacle of it all but I must admit a great deal is owed to the pairing of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winselet. Besides...comparing this romance to the one in Cameron's following film Avatar, makes this look like one of the greatest romances in all of cinema. It's really not...but nothing wrong with a guilty pleasure now and then.

2000's ATONEMENT - I debated putting Pride & Prejudice here....but I'm honestly debating whether or not to do a blog devoted to Jane Austen...and the Brontes...and Anne of Green Gables...and Little Women. Bah!! Too many to cover!! My next choice was Moulin Rouge, but I'm saving that for another blog as well. And no I wouldn't even dream of putting The Notebook here since I already had manipulative melodrama covered in previous categories. But back to Atonement. Like any other Joe Wright film, the cinematography is superb and the leads give marvelous performances. This has to be one of the most frustrating obstacles in a romantic film ever, but every moment Keira Knightley and James McAvoy share is marvelous. Their love story is beautiful even if the majority of it might be [SPOILER] might not have really "happened [/SPOILER]

Well that's it for now! I know I just scratched the surface. So what are YOUR favorites??


Joey said...

Oh, loved your summing up of Gone With The Wind. I'll tell you one of the things it has going for it is some of the best kissing scenes in cinema history. Yum!!!

I love, love, love the soapy 1950's. It's not like I ever get into the story. I don't. And I don't care about the characters. I guess it's just the blitz. And I like full skirts. :) I will watch Imitation of Life just to see Lana Turner's clothes (which I've seen a multitude of time). And now there's a screen romance...her and John Gavin (who is yummy, by the way). You never, never, never buy it.

Ha ha! Love Story. You came up with the best 1970's one.

I'm going to digress and tell you two memorable theater moments I've had in my lifetime. Probably the only two, definitely the most.

1. Watching "Love Story" in the old Murray Theater with my sister, Kathy. ***Spoiler alert***at the end, everyone cries buckets and buckets of tears. You could hear the women in the audience audibly sniffing loudly as a few dates chuckled at their girlfriends; dates who I presume got no sugar that night.

2. Again the Murray Theater, watching "Gone With the Wind" when I was about 12. This would have been 1970. Clark Gable was already long gone. But when they did that first zoom in shot of him at the bottom of the stairs when Scarlett is looking down and sees him the first time, there was the loudest, "Aaahhhhhh....." that came from every woman in the audience. They guy still had it from beyond the grave.

This was a masterful post. When I think decades, I probably really like some of those early drams of the 30's. I'm discovering those. There was a lot of depth and the women were often very strong characters.

And, if you were going for pathos, you did leave out my personal least favorite (preparing to be hated by your many fans) "An Affair to Remember." Talk about over the top. Sarah's favorite line is when Deborah Kerr is deliriously moaning, "Nicky, turn the boat around. Turn the boat around."

Look forward to the next post!

Joey said...

Oops, meant to say glitz of the 50's.

Sarah said...

Good movie choices, Emily. Some of my guiltiest pleasures are the soap opera romances of the 1950's. Peyton Place is one of those. And basically, anything with Troy Donahue is just laugh out loud funny for how melodramatic and over the top it can be! Ha ha!

You KNOW that West Side Story is one of my favorites. Beautiful music. And who doesn't love Natalie Wood?

Sarah said...

Oh, and I had no idea that was the plot of Sunrise.

Also, I will always imagine that somehow Rhett forgave Scarlett and they ended up together. They both deserved a little happiness...and they were each other's match!

Laurie & Clint said...

I think I prefer the rom-com to the rom-dram I can't say that I love any of these that much. And I think princess Bride is more of a comedy for sure

Joey said...

I want to see Sunrise now.

Emily said...

Sunrise is magnificent. It's one of my favorite films I ever had to watch in college. Laurie I definitely know The Princess Bride is more of a rom-com than rom-dram....but I was trying to illustrate that it was something in between I guess? More of a fairy tale action adventure than a typical rom-com.

Joey said...

I can't believe that I forgot "Picnic!!!!!!!" That dancing scene. Ahhhhhhhh. The ultimate melodrama, but I cry every time at the end. What will happen to them? I'm like Sarah with Scarlett, I just don't want to believe that reality will win the day. Viva la Romance!!!