Lovelorn? Lovesick? Love-starved? Love-struck? Then you’re ready to read the complete guide to romance in entertainment. Surely, America’s most romantic couple these days must be L.A. Law‘s Grace Van Owen (Susan Dey) and Victor Sifuentes (Jimmy Smits), but they’ve had plenty of competition over the years. On the following pages, you will find ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’S choices for the most romantic movie and TV characters of all time, the pairings that were never meant to be, the most romantic singers and songs, the best make-out music, and some love-ly surprises. If your favorite stars and scenes didn’t make the cut (What?! No The Way We Were? No Peggy Lee?), we know you will come up with your own selections with someone you love, over the candlelight or under the moonlight.
Hollywood romances are our yearnings made perfect, a mirror beckoning us in the dark to gorgeous possibilities. After 88 years of narrative filmmaking, we still look to the stars for those giddy moments when defenses, pretensions, and fears are blown away and people finally follow their hearts (sex is all the neat stuff that comes after, and that’s another matter). At the movies, we can be wooed by Rita Hayworth or Michelle Pfeiffer, Cary Grant or Mel Gibson.
The Most Romantic Scenes In The Movies
Never has romantic self-sacrifice been so noble, so right…so cool. Those who think Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) should have ditched goody-two-shoes Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and stayed with Rick (Humphrey Bogart) should know that an obscure Brazilian film buff reedited Casablanca for the 1987 Rio Film Festival and juggled the scenes. In his ending, Ilsa doesn’t get on the plane. She flies to Rick’s arms. Sorry, this version isn’t available in video stores.
Gone With the Wind
For more than three hours we’ve been waiting for Little Miss Fiddle-dee-dee to figure out that Ashley is a wimp and Rhett’s the real thing, so the scene in which Rhett (Clark Gable) carries Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) up the stairs is both GWTW‘s emotional climax and a relief. It almost didn’t happen this way, however. Before filming, Hollywood censorship chief Joseph Breen told producer David O. Selznick that Rhett’s behavior was excessive. ”Merely have him take her in his arms,” Breen wrote Selznick, ”kiss her, and then gently start with her toward the bedroom.” Thank goodness Selznick knew his audience and knew better.
Cameron Crowe’s wonderful 1989 teen romance is the rare film that shows how one tune can symbolize everything two people could possibly feel for each other. While making love for the first time — in his car — Diane (Ione Skye) and Lloyd (John Cusack) hear Peter Gabriel’s lovely ”In Your Eyes” on the radio. In this memorable scene, after Diane has dumped him, Lloyd parks near her house one morn, holds up a boom box and blasts their song. It’s all he needs to say; it’s all she needs to know.
The astoundingly sensual scene from Hitchcock’s most romantic film (1946) features new lovers Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) and Devlin (Cary Grant) nuzzling, nibbling, and smooching all around her hotel room. It was Hitchcock’s end run of Hollywood’s Production Code, which forbade any screen kiss longer than three seconds. By having his lovers alternate lip contact with sweet nothings (Alicia: ”This is a very strange love affair.” Devlin: ”Why?” Alicia: ”Maybe the fact that you don’t love me.” Devlin: ”When I don’t love you, I’ll let you know.”), Hitch toed the line while steaming up the screen.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Forget that this 1967 racial drama represents Hollywood liberalism at its most vapidly self-congratulatory; Spencer Tracy’s speech to Katharine Hepburn (as his on-screen wife) is a beautiful, heartfelt valedictory to the real-life couple’s long personal relationship. ”It doesn’t matter a damn what we think,” says Tracy, as Hepburn’s eyes brim. ”The only thing that matters is what they feel, how much they feel, for each other. And if it’s half of what we felt — that’s everything.” After Tracy, 67 years old and gravely ill, finished, the crew erupted in spontaneous applause. Less than a month after the movie wrapped, Tracy was dead.
Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon were at the peak of their youthful beauty when they played Emily Brontë’s doomed lovers in 1939. Though Wuthering Heights is full of knee-buckling, eye-fogging romantic moments, the one in which Oberon (Cathy) tears off her fancy dress, puts on a plain frock, and joins Olivier (Heathcliff) on the moors is clearly the best. Historical footnote: Olivier was miffed that lover Vivien Leigh had been turned down for the lead, Oberon had hoped to play opposite Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and neither star could stand the other.
In this delightful 1988 snort of bemusement, minor-league catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) lays out his credo for sensitive jocks and in so doing wins the heart of tough babe Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon). Standing in Annie’s doorway and speaking with the impatient poise of a man who knows exactly who he is, Crash boldly recites a few of his favorite things: The printable ones include ”the small of a woman’s back, the hanging curveball, high fiber, good scotch… soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve, and… long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last for three days.”
An Officer and a Gentleman
Sure, this final scene from the first of the Reagan-era (1982) old-fashioned romances is a bit syrupy, sentimental and excessive. It’s also perfect, because over the course of the film, these people have earned the right to love each other. By becoming a Navy officer, loser Zack (Richard Gere) has become his own man. And by letting go of her wish to marry just any officer, blue-collar Paula (Debra Winger) finally deserves the one she gets. When Zack, in his dress whites, tears into the paper mill where Paula works and carries her out of her humdrum life, her coworkers applaud and so do we, knowing that fairy tales come true, and it can happen to you.
The Two and Only
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers They set the standard in their first starring encounter in 1934’s The Gay Divorcée: He romances, she resists; he persists, she surrenders. As Ginger finally melts into Fred’s arms, the two dancing as one, their consummation is complete. By their next session, Roberta, they were moving like a fine-tuned love machine. Gliding to the rhythms of ”Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” they seem to float along the dance floor.
Rudolph Valentino — Theda Bara Awards
For spectacular achievement as lotharios and vamps
Sean Connery as James Bond
Warren Beatty Shampoo
Richard Gere American Gigolo
Donald Sutherland Casanova
Michael Caine Alfie
Albert Finney Tom Jones
Greta Garbo Camille
Theresa Russell Black Widow
Rita Hayworth Gilda
Barbara Stanwyck Double Indemnity
Most Arresting Forbidden Fruit
Some loves are doomed from the start, but watching one flame out can be oddly exhilarating. The Princess of Painful Passion must be Natalie Wood — mismatched with James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, Warren Beatty in Splendor in the Grass, and Richard Beymer in West Side Story. Other futile favorites:
Gene Wilder and Daisy the Sheep Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask
Ingrid Bergman and Leslie Howard Intermezzo
Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero Camelot
Elizabeth Hartman and Sidney Poitier A Patch of Blue
Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift A Place in the Sun
James Mason and Sue Lyon Lolita
Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp Edward Scissorhands
Fay Wray, Jessica Lange, and King Kong King Kong
Most Romantic Cigarette Moment
No star ever wielded a meaner cigarette than Bette Davis. But in this classic scene, Paul Henreid seduced the expert by lighting up not one but two cigarettes and gallantly passing one to her. The move has been often imitated but never mastered by a succession of lame pretenders.
Hottest May-December Romances
What’s age got to do with it? May Queen Audrey Hepburn apparently never met a father figure she didn’t love: Gary Cooper in Love in the Afternoon, Fred Astaire in Funny Face, Cary Grant in Charade, Humphrey Bogart in Sabrina, and Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady. Also defying the generation gap, if less often:
Harold and Maude Ever-young Ruth Gordon reinvigorates gloomy Bud Cort in this black comedy.
The Misfits In his last catch, Clark Gable lassos Marilyn Monroe.
Atlantic City Burt Lancaster bets winningly on Susan Sarandon.
The Russia House Sean Connery undercovers Michelle Pfeiffer.
The Last Picture Show Cloris Leachman beds down bug-eyed Timothy Bottoms.
Summer of ’42 Jennifer O’Neill knowingly shows teenager Gary Grimes a thing or two.
Tea and Sympathy Deborah Kerr brings out John Kerr’s latent heterosexuality with the classic line: ”Years from now, when you talk about this — and you will — be kind.”
Two Great Come-On Lines
Body Heat Sultry Kathleen Turner to sweaty William Hurt: ”You’re not too smart, are you? I like that in a man.”
To Have and Have Not All right, all together now — the supremely confident Lauren Bacall to the highly agreeable Bogie: ”…just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”
Two of the most hilarious scenes with couples in movies
When Harry Met Sally Lunching in a Manhattan deli with screen friend Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan primly sets aside her turkey sandwich and groans and moans her way to a fake orgasm to prove she can. A nearby diner (played by director Rob Reiner’s mother, Estelle) instructs her waiter: ”I’ll have what she’s having.”
Some Like It Hot In the last scene of Billy Wilder’s classic drag farce, Jack Lemmon ends his protestations that he’s unsuitable for the smitten Joe E. Brown by whipping off his wig and announcing he can’t wed the aging playboy because he’s a man. Unfazed, Brown responds blithely, ”Well, nobody’s perfect.”