Thinking about a romantic comedy revival has got me in the mood for watching that sort of thing, though I also seem to get in that mood in the fall. It’s going to be a rainy weekend, so it may be time for a film festival. I’ve been making my mental list of favorite romantic comedies that work on both the comedy and the romance side, trying to decide what I want to watch, so I thought I’d share.
From the “classic” era:
It Happened One Night — I love a road trip story, and this one is funny and romantic. It manages to simmer with sexual tension in spite of being conspicuously chaste (hanging the “Walls of Jericho” in the shared motel room).
The Philadelphia Story — One of my all-time favorite movies, full of witty lines and sparkling character interaction. Loses some points on the romance front, as the most romantic scenes are between characters who don’t end up together, but still, all those scenes between Jimmy Stewart and Katharine Hepburn just sizzle.
From the late 80s-90s “golden age”:
When Harry Met Sally … — a friends-to-lovers story that really works. This may be the reason I associate romantic comedies with fall (even though it came out in the summer), since there are a lot of gorgeous scenes of New York in the fall.
While You Were Sleeping — I have to ration watching this one because for some odd reason it makes me cry hysterically. I think it triggers abandonment issues, or something. But I think it does a great job of making an outrageous premise work.
Hope Floats — I need to get this one on DVD because it’s a good “cozy” movie for me. (Incidentally, this screenwriter was the one who wrote the now-defunct Enchanted, Inc. screenplay that I would dearly love to get my hands on, just so I could see what he did with it.)
The Very Thought of You — this one’s a little more obscure, but it does some interesting things with structure, telling the same story from different perspectives until we can piece together what was really going on. I can understand why Joseph Fiennes made the career choices he did, but it’s kind of a pity he backed off from playing romantic leading men because he’s wonderful in this.
The last trickle before the Dark Ages (2000 on)
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day — I love this movie so much. It’s like a throwback to the classic screwball comedies (probably because it’s based on a book from that era) but with a modern edge.
The Holiday — to be honest, I like this one more for the Christmas setting and the life-swap fantasy. The romance doesn’t entirely work for me. I enjoy the romantic scenes and the way the relationships build, but I don’t really believe these people made it work after the closing credits. Still, I watch this just about every year a couple of nights before Christmas.
Stardust — I know it’s not classified as a romantic comedy, but it’s an incredibly funny movie with a bickering couple who gradually falls in love along the way. Basically, it’s a gender-flipped (since he’s the one trying to get back to the woman he thinks he loves) It Happened One Night with magic and the road trip is through a fantasy realm.
There are a number of movies that I like, but not as romantic comedies. I love The Princess Bride, but the romance takes place almost entirely offscreen, so it doesn’t scratch the romance itch. I love Enchanted, but that romance really doesn’t work for me (I guess I’m Team Prince). I kind of lose interest in the movie after the big Central Park musical number. Sliding Doors is one of my favorite movies, but the romance isn’t the reason why, and it’s not really what I would consider a comedy.
And there are lots more movies that I like okay but that I wouldn’t put on a favorites list. These are the ones I can watch over and over again and still enjoy.