a midsummer night’s movie binge . . .

by mulberryshoots

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Last night, we had dinner and then watched the tail end (the best part) of “Moonstruck” on Channel 91 of all places. The movie that came on afterwards was “Love Story” with Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw. I couldn’t believe I was watching it for the first time EVER! (Read online that one of the groups at Harvard still shows it to incoming freshman as a bonding exercise while they jeer and make fun of the movie.) I was struck by how fresh and beautiful Ali McGraw was in this film. Read later about her troubled 3rd marriage to Steve McQueen but that’s another whole long story.)
Next on this random TV station we don’t normally watch after “Love Story” was “Falling in Love” with Meryl Streep and Robert di Niro when they were oh-so-young and trim! That’s one of my all-time favorite films because of the way material of about falling in love by chance with someone outside marriage is handled so delicately and with such astute sensitivity. Streep almost runs into a train while desperately wanting to see him before he leaves town in the middle of the night – and fails. Plus, Robert de Niro’s hesitation as he walks towards Meryl Streep in the train at the end of the film is just priceless.
I continued the romantic love movie binge today by briefing “Oliver’s Story” – a sequel to “Love Story” with Candace Bergen which was a pale shadow of the original film with its overly repetitive music theme composed by Francis Lai (who also composed the unforgettable music theme to the French classic, “A Man and a Woman” in 1968, two years before “Love Story” in 1970.
Then, mid-morning, “Julie and Julia” came on – and once again, I observed Meryl Streep’s finely tuned facial expressions which showed her love for her husband, Paul Cushing Child played by Stanley Tucci and for her long affair with French cuisine.
Anyhow, although I have not been a Meryl Streep fan per se for a long time, her portrayal in “Falling in Love” made me seek out another unrequited life/love movie she starred in with Clint Eastwood called “Bridges of Madison County.” Oh my, how the grown children overreact and remonstrate at the beginning of the movie whilst they start reading their mother’s dying wish to be cremated and her ashes strewn at the bridge where Robert Kincaid’s ashes were scattered decades before. But “who was Robert Kincaid?” I am struck once again how the brittle shell around a family’s life is just a thin partition between what’s known within and what else truly mattered to people in their lives outside that cocoon.
So my list of favorite romantic movies that slowly unfurled on its own without much interference from me includes: “Moonstruck,” “Falling in Love,” “Bridges of Madison County,” so far. “Love Story” et al. didn’t make the cut, but I might go back and watch “A Man and a Woman” – which I loved with Jean-Louis Trintingeant and Anouk Aimee (va va voom!)  I’ll also reflect on other movies that might be added to this shortlist later on.
It’s amazing what one can do to entertain oneself with some unexpected serendipity on TV, Google, a subscription to Amazon Prime and some quiet down time (with a recuperating ankle) during what feels like a very long, hot summer.
Postscript: to jog my memory of other movies I have liked as much as these, I went through the top romance movies in the last ten years and then the top romance movies of all time. Guess what? “Falling in Love” isn’t even on either list! The only other movie I can think of right now that I enjoy seeing repeats of is “Notting Hill” with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.  Then there’s “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” (again with Meryl Streep) and “Out of Africa,” (MS too!)
Hmmmmm. . .  will have to think about this further.