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Jennifer

As for fave romantic movies- I've named some here before and have the same as many others. As for my most romantic night out at the movies... it would have to be GoodFellas. Although I have fond memories and cannot watch that movie without remembering, I still wouldn't call it a romance flick...

Linkmeister

"Romancing the Stone" would seem to fit Mudge's definition of a romantic movie; I saw it when I was infatuated with my date. When that "relationship" collapsed, it affected my desire to ever see that movie again (not that it's worth watching again anyway, probably, although that fall down the hill is a memorable scene).

Greg

"Oklahoma", "Carousel", "King & I"... now THOSE were romantic movies that can STILL choke me up.

I can't go into detail here, but seeing "Z" with a beautiful Greek girl led to a very happy ending...

Exiled in NJ

Maybe this is for the wrong emotion, but after our daughter died in a stupid accident, my late wife and I rented videos every night. The one that reduced us to tears, gave us a deep understanding of love, and made us care deeply about the characters, was The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I cannot bear to watch it unless I am alone, for fear my new companion will not take the same feelings from it. The ending, when Tomas and Teresa drive their old truck toward the white light, still leaves me limp.

Later I read the book and enjoyed it, but for different reasons.

Jennifer

Exiled- it may be the wrong emotion, but I believe you just rested your case against mush by pointing out in big, honkin' terms that life and love is about big feelings and emotions, some wonderful, some private, some terrible. Movies may use mush to try and tell us what love is about, but your whole comment above said more about love than mush ever could.

Mike

I look forward with interest to your definition of mush but, having just seen Brokeback last night, I doubt your going to be able to apply your definition to this movie. There were many interesting things about the movie, and the acting and direction were remarkable, but one of the things I found most striking was there was no attempt made to make the viewer understand the love between the characters. Sure, you were sympathetic to their plight and empathized with their struggles but the movie had a very light touch when it came to explaining their love in a typical Hollywood way. Usually you are treated to endearing scenes and aw shucks moments showing how wonderful the people are so you too fall for them. In Brokeback, both characters are emotionally stunted by their history and powerfully constrained by circumstance so that you wouldn't want to get within 100 yards of a romantic entaglement with either. Even my wife, whose heart is sent racing by Heath Ledger, didn't feel drawn to him in this movie (testament to how well he did acting the part).

In the end, it just didn't seem that the movie was really about love or even "love despite all the odds." It seemed more about us. All of us as a society, and the utter folly of trying to dictate what is or isn't acceptable in human relations. Or, something like that.

Anyway, it's good. You should see it.

Shakespeare's Sister

First of all, I hate mush. I hate mush way more than Mr. Shakes, who cites The English Patient, a movie I couldn't stand, among his very favorite films, romantic or otherwise. One of my friends who dearly loves Shakespeare in Love has begged me never to see it, because he doesn't want to have to hear how much I hate it - a request I have happily obliged.

I tend to like things like Harold & Maude, Garden State, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Love Actually...quirky, talky, somehow more reminiscent of my own experience than, say, Maid in Manhattan or some such.

That said, Brokeback Mountain isn't mush.

Chrys

Most romantic movie? Definitely, the original "An Affair to Remember" with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. The first time I saw it, I was 17 and I was baby sitting. The kids had gone to bed and I was watching the movie all alone and sobbing. Just then the kids' parents came home and found me crying hysterically. They never asked me to baby sit again.

blue girl

"My guess is that for most people the two will be related."

Not in my case. Weird, but the only movie I remember going to see with an old boyfriend was "Deer Hunter" -- and believe me, all I remember about leaving that movie with him and all the other people was the heavy, awful, stunned silence. Although she did want Nick...

SS! During lunch today I flipped on HBO and started watching "The English Patient" with about an hour to go. My husband and I never went to see if because of Elaine on Seinfeld. And while I thought what I saw was shot well, etc. -- I couldn't stop thinking about Elaine saying..."Just DIE already!"

Also I've always loved Harold and Maude and all the quirkier ones, too. How would you put that. Movies that show a lifestyle that I relate to or long for somehow -- Annie Hall, Harold and Maude, etc. -- appeal to me for THAT reason, instead of only the *love* part -- am I making any sense?

blue girl

Clicked off too fast cuz I wanted to add...(you know me -- yap, yap, yap) -- in the right -- or wrong -- mood I can watch any old kind of mushy, romantic down and dirty flick!

Exiled in NJ

Chrys: I like Affair too, but McCarey took his script from 1939's Love Affair [Charles Boyer/Irene Dunne], almost lock, stock and barrel and somehow made the 87 minutes of the former 119 minutes for Grant and Kerr. Dunne could sing better than Kerr, and I prefer her but not by much. Aside from being French, which makes the scene with Janou more touching, my feeling has always been Boyer does the 'downhill' second half scenes with more conviction than Grant. Then I prefer the music of the former.

Both are terrific films, but if you can find a decent print of the earlier version, give it a try. Then again, as Lance and others have said, it's difficult if you fell in love with a film, or one version of it.

Charlie

Interesting - you know, the mushiest show I've ever seen is also the most obviously meant to be watched with your girlfriend. I hadn't made the connection before, although I'd drawn both conclusions before - it suddenly strikes me that there's a correlation.

(Who writes Netflix's captions? Saikano is a grand, Greek-toned tragedy, which pulls heavily from the apocalyptic tradition in Japanese film, along with a bunch of anime genre ideas. It's told from the point of view of a superpowered schoolgirl's boyfriend. Yes, I know. It plays like it was outlined by a teenage girl and then written by a very talented, observant character writer. But if you have any susceptibility at all to mush, you'll cry at least once.)

Anne Laurie

My favorite romantic movie of all time is Terry Gilliam's much-underrated THE FISHER KING, which may just prove Lance's thesis, because it's the movie after which my husband proposed to me. ("And not just because I knew you were about to do the same thing, and if I didn't beat you to it, I'd never hear the end of it." -- DH) I'd recommend FISHER KING to anyone with a highly developed sense of the ridiculous; how can you not appreciate a movie which explains, at great length, that the chivalric ideal of True Romance leads straight to the nuthouse? Or, through a wonderful performance by William Macy, that the dedicated search for True Love actually WILL kill you in the end? Which is not to suggest that Mercedes Ruehl didn't earn her Oscar, or that Jeff Bridges shouldn't have gotten one as well... the non-verbal moment when his shock-joke character realizes what's actually wrong with Macy's character, who is bleeding across Bridges' lap while they wait in a hospital emergency room, is an acting class all on its own. And that may indeed be the whole secret to a "romantic" movie : It's impossible to write a stand-alone Romance for thinking adults, because once you've finished puberty (intellectually as well as physically) Romance is something that happens DURING one's life, not INSTEAD of it! So you can have a romantic comedy, a romantic tragedy, a romantic suspense thriller... but Reeoomantz, as be-all and end-all, is both too strong and too frail a bond for depiction on a screen.

Shakespeare's Sister

I couldn't stop thinking about Elaine saying..."Just DIE already!"

Totally, LOL!

Also I've always loved Harold and Maude and all the quirkier ones, too. How would you put that. Movies that show a lifestyle that I relate to or long for somehow -- Annie Hall, Harold and Maude, etc. -- appeal to me for THAT reason, instead of only the *love* part -- am I making any sense?

Yes! When I left my comment earlier, I almost said "I like movies that deal with the mechanics of relationships," but took it out, because it seemed so...I don't know...clinical, or something. But that's really what it is. I like the whole process of attraction and love and all that stuff.

That's why I never like the "they-hate-each-other-oh-look-now-they're-in-love" flicks. It just doesn't happen that way, and I'm fascinated by films that manage to capture the little quirks and turns of love instead. Richard Curtis has a particular gift for writing dialogue that feels real and gets at the heart of the mechanics of love and relationships, which is probably why I always see Four Weddings and a Funeral (if not Notting Hill and Love Actually, too) on lots of clever people's lists of favorite romantic flicks.

Shakespeare's Sister

My favorite romantic movie of all time is Terry Gilliam's much-underrated THE FISHER KING

I love that one, too. It's the only film I've ever watched in the theater, walked out, bought a ticket to the next showing, and walked right back in to see again.

Anne Laurie

Charlie, you have a wonderful point there -- I have not (yet) seen SAIKANO, but some of the most "romantic" stories my husband & I have watched together over the last five years have been anime. The whole industry gets pigeonholed as either Pokemon or panty-sniffing, but there are gems as well. We have a particular weakness for the CLAMP collaborative, the women of which have made a successful business with "shoujo" (girls') stories like CARDCAPTOR SAKURA (10-year-old girl must use her newly discovered magical powers to capture the deck of mystical trinkets she accidentally unleashed on her home town), ANGELIC LAYER (12-year-old girl becomes involved with the latest national sport, which is part video game, part BJD doll-making, and part big-time-wrestling), and CHOBITS (hapless college geek finds a discarded personal-assistant-robot that may hide the secret of the rumored "independent" artificial intelligences). Yet all of these classic, simple, branded-merchandise-friendly sagas contain distinctly grown-up subplots about love and romance: Is "true love" real? If this is love, how will I recognize it? Can love survive trauma, hard choices, the opposition of my family or my peers? If love hurts, can it be worth it? Can love transcend bad decisions, stupid arguments, and my own unwillingness to step outside the comfortable roles I've made for myself? Is love about not burdening the one you love -- or is it letting them share your burdens, as you share theirs?... Along with, of course, panty-flashing, bad puns, cute plushies, and the ever-popular anime version of the pratfall, which involves two characters falling on top of each other and the male character's hands ending up where they shouldn't. Because, romance is wonderful, but physical comedy is money in the bank .

Earl Bockenfeld

Your point, if I understand is that favorite movies and favorite songs are emotional markers for shared experiences of intense romantic love. Looking at just the chemical components of being madly in love. Doing novel things together triggers dopamine in the brain, stimulating feelings of attraction. So first encounters that involve a nerve-wracking activity, like riding a roller coaster, or watching a thrilling movie, are more likely to lead people to pursue a relationship.

Studies around the world show that passion usually ends. Biologically speaking, the reason romantic love fades may be found in the way our brains respond to the surge and pulse of dopamine. Perhaps the brain adapts to the excessive amounts, and the neurons become desensitized. Anthropologist Helen Fisher of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., suggests relationships often break up after about four years because that’s how long it takes to raise a child through infancy. Fisher is the author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, a 2004 book.

Oxytocin, a chemical thought to be plentiful in long-term couples with warm, comfortable relationships, is a hormone that promotes feelings of connection and bonding. It is released when we hug our children or our long-term spouses or when a mother nurses her infant. In long-term relationships that never get off the ground, chances are the couple has not found a way to stimulate or sustain oxytocin production.

Hollywood may need to get into the dopamine and oxytocin turn-on business, to get couples into more and newer favorite movies instead of just reliving some passionate moments from our youth.

Charlie

some of the most "romantic" stories my husband & I have watched together over the last five years have been anime.... Yet all of these classic, simple, branded-merchandise-friendly sagas contain distinctly grown-up subplots about love and romance...

No kidding. I think there are a number of related effects involved. First, most anime is written by people who are very young (early to late twenties) and aimed at (and about) teenagers. So it tends to take itself very seriously. Second, anime seems to not feel the impulse that America developed in the '90s or so - to laugh and declare that it "doesn't really mean it." In general, the anime fan and creator culture seems to value sincerity much more than the American movie and TV culture.

But it's also possible that this is just an effect of the revisionist movement that's going on within the animation industry in Japan (and which should probably be distinguished from the industry itself.) Revisionist filmmaking movements love asking hard questions - it's what defines them.

Kit Stolz

Favorite romantic movies...for me, tellingly, there seems to be a connection between doomed love and romanticism, so some of my favorites are stories where the love between the two passionate young people didn't work out, or not at all as they expected, such as "They Live by Night," or "Only Angels Have Wings" (which I'm sure Lance would consider mush, but I don't care) or even "Z."

For most people, the balance is between comedy and love, and hence the invention of the romantic comedy, which almost never works any more..."The Graduate" may been the last great romantic comedy, and it worked in large part because of that classic last scene on the bus, in which the essential emptiness of the genre was revealed. (Which came out of a mistake, by the way, which the director had the sense to keep in the final print.)

The point is that romanticism is bigger than a single love affair. "Harold and Maude" is a wonderful movie with a touching conclusion, but to me it's more about two misfits finding acceptance in each other than it is about love (not that they don't love each other, but you see what I'm saying, I hope). But I agree with Shakespeare's Sister that Richard Curtis is a modern-day genius, able to blend comedy and love with transcendant brilliance. Chekhov would adore this guy, I swear, and Curtis was one of the first to sneak a happy ending past my personal mush detector. Even his lesser hits (such as "Love, Actually") are huge at my house and, I think, very romantic with an absolute minimum of mush.

Lance

Kit,

Only Angels Have Wings is definitely NOT mush!

Cryptic Ned

I think the only romantic movies I've ever liked were Shakespeare adaptations and Shakespeare in Love. And maybe Shadowlands; if a romantic movie is about middle-aged, boring people who don't inspire my intense envy by their very existence, I can appreciate it better than something where I'm thinking "Charming heir played by Heath Ledger, you will have a wonderful, wonderful life whether you marry this so-called 'ideal girl' or not."

Samuel

I guess you need to watch some Hindi movies that celebrate love. Theres a whole new meaning to mush in Indian movies. The funny thing is that they have had no small impact on what guys think love is.This is not limited to just teens though, guys in their twenties come up with stuff that will make one groan.

The moment I heard that god awful line from Isolde and Tristan, all I could think was, hey did they steal it from an Indian movie?

I can't stand most romantic movies and most Indian movies for precisely the same reason.

Campaspe

Exiled, I completely agree about Love Affair vs. An Affair to Remember. Boyer is very much underrated.

The true romantic movie is far more dead than the Western, in my view, so I will look forward to Brokeback and seeing if it can revive the form in any way. Romance is so devalued now that the otherwise splendid GreenCine site actually uses the perjorative term "weepie," which you will never find on MY site! :) To me, the essential element in a truly romantic movie is that it insists on the primacy of love, as our finest emotion and most worthwhile pursuit. So while Annie Hall is a masterpiece by any definition, it is by no means a romance. A few favorites that I believe qualify:
Les Enfants du Paradis
Smiles of a Summer Night
All This, and Heaven Too
Mr. Skeffington
I Know Where I'm Going!
Roman Holiday
Letter from an Unknown Woman
Le Plaisir
The Shop Around the Corner
Ninotchka
Broken Blossoms
Back Street
Stella Dallas (the Stanwyck version, of course) (mother love probably deserves its own section)
Hold Back the Dawn
The Old Maid
Now, Voyager
One-Way Passage
The Enchanted Cottage
Random Harvest
The Last Metro
Portrait of Jennie

As for the "mush" definition, it seems to me to be as simple as "a lousy romantic movie," but probably has more to it than that. But I'm stopping now, arbitrarily, before I jam up your comments section.

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