Law and its many connections -- law and literature, love, lollipops, & fun, law and everything else under the sun
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Law and Romantic Flicks I
-  LawAndEverythingElse.Com  - Copyright (c) 2006 Burton Randall Hanson

Announcement. We've finally gotten around to launching our new webzine/blawg: BurtLaw's The Daily Judge:

It is not an online newspaper and is not affiliated with or intended to be mistaken for any existing or previously-existing newspaper or journal. Rather, it is a so-called "blawg," a law-related personal "web log" or "blog," one with a subjective, idiosyncratic, and eccentric sociological and social-psychological slant that focuses not on the latest judicial decisions of supposed great importance but on a) the institution of judge in the United States and in other countries throughout the world, b) the judicial office and role, c) judicial personalities, d) the great common law tradition of judging as practiced here and throughout the world, e) judges as judges, f) judges as ordinary people with the usual mix of virtues and flaws, etc. We link to newspapers and other sources in order to alert the reader to ideas, articles, stories, speeches, law books, literary works and other things about "judges" that have interested us and that may interest the reader.

We don't promote our blawgs, but readers of this blog and of our affiliated political opinion blog, BurtonHanson.Com, may be interested in it. We don't think there is another blawg quite like it.

 About Last Night (1986) Chicago yuppie Rob Lowe can't commit to Demi Moore, loses her, goes a little crazy when she temporarily refuses to reconnect; Elizabeth Perkins and James Belushi as pals who have their own romance. Why is this, and not Top Gun, a real romantic movie? Click

 Across the Pacific (1942) After receiving dishonorable discharge, Artillery Officer Rick Leland (Bogart) boards a Japanese freighter, Genoa Maru, which is headed for Panama in the days preceding the Japanese attack on the U.S. He finds intrigue in the form of a talkative Japanese sympathizer, Dr. Lorenz (Sydney Greenstreet), and romance with Alberta Marlow (Mary Astor), who claims to be a candy seller from Canada. Directed by John Huston and filmed by the guy who filmed Casablanca. I love the atmosphere of this movie, the sense of being a part of a dangerous journey at sea, the wonderful dialogue, the great characterizations, and a pretty neat romance. [more]  

 Adam's Rib (1949) Tracy and Hepburn, an attorney "couple," battle each other in court, under George Cukor's direction. [more]

 All the Right Moves (1983) Coming-of-age story of high school football star Tom Cruise, who, if he wants to make it out of a tough Pennsylvania mill town, must make all the right moves -- both in romance, with his girl friend, Lea Thompson, and in playing football, for a mean coach, Craig T. Nelson.

Anne of Green Gables (1985) and  Anne of Avonlea (1987) Supremely beguiling Megan Follows as Lucy Maud Montgomery's greatest creation, the irrepressible Anne Shirley, who is adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert (Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth) of Green Gables. Anne's kindred spirit, Gilbert Blythe, twice rejected by Anne, nearly dies before Anne comes to her senses ("There's a Book of Revelations in everyone's life") and brings him back to life with her avowal of love. Memorably melodic, healing score by Hagood Hardy. Filmed on Prince Edward Island.  I guess these two movies are supposed to be for little girls, but my son and I both loved them as much as my daughter did. [more]  

 Apartment, The (1960) Billy Wilder directed Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in this touching story about how two people who are used and unappreciated find each other and love. Link to the original NYT review by Bosley Crowther.  

 April Love (1957) Judge sends bad city boy Pat Boone to work on his uncle's farm, where he sings to (and with) and finds love with Shirley Jones. See also Bernadine, also 1957. I think Pat's handlers wanted to cash in on his popularity while they could. These aren't great movies, but as a 14-year-old, I loved both of them. For more about Pat Boone, click here.

 Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) Judge Myrna Loy gets all giddy over Cary Grant and figures out a way to maintain jurisdiction over him -- forever. Click here for details.

Barcelona (1994)  This is the second in Whit Stillman's trilogy, the others being Metropolitan and Last Days of Disco. Two young American men stationed in Barcelona look for love among a group of lovely Spanish women, one played by Mia Sorvino. The movie has a great sense of place. It also has some pretty good dialogue and excellent characterizations. Movie also has a good soundtrack. Ever since I saw the film, I've had the city on my mind. It's one of the cities on my "My Yahoo!" weather list, so I've become familiar with the climate there. It seems to me to have the perfect climate for one of my temperament. The Barcelona night scene at right is courtesy of Phil Greenspun of MIT, who, among other things (including generously helping folks like me with web publishing), maintains WWW.Photo.Net as a public service. He recently posted a web travelogue with excellent pics and description of a trip to Barcelona and helpful tips for those thinking of going there. [more] The Timeout guide to Barcelona also contains useful info. [more]

 Barefoot in the Park (1967) Neil Simon screenplay about newlyweds living in Greewich Village walkup: the wife, Jane Fonda, at her most appealing, plays a 1960's gal who wants her new lawyer hubby, Robert Redford, to unbotton his button-down soul and have some fun. I've always felt it a pity that Jane Fonda never got to play Jane opposite Redford's Tarzan in a remake of the 1932 and and 1934 classics Tarzan the Ape Man & Tarzan & His Mate.

 Beautiful Mind, A (2001) I saw the Ron Howard film, A Beautiful Mind, with my kids. It's a beautiful film based on the life -- the up & down & up again -- of the legendary John Forbes Nash, Jr., the Nobel-prize winning mathematician. The real hero -- heroine -- of the story is the woman who stuck by him through thick & thin, his wife, which is why it could be called A Beautiful Wife.

 Bridges of Madison County, The (1995) I think women like this one more than men, though I love the soundtrack. Everyone has read the book and seen the movie and knows the story.  The movie asks the appropriate question, whether Francesca (Meryl Streep) made the right decision in masochistically giving up the love of her life, Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood), for the sake of her family. It seems her "saintly" repression and self-denial haven't helped anyone, certainly not her children, who discover her "story" after her death. Her daughter is unhappily married to a womanizer but has stayed with him because that's one of the lessons Francesca taught her, stay with the guy. And her poor lover of long ago, Kincaid, well, he died before she did, a lonely man who never loved anyone else again. Conclusion? Masochism and self-denial are sometimes the ultimate in sadism and thoughtlessness. If you really liked the movie (perhaps saw it several times that summer of 1995) you might look in the movie section of used bookstores for Bridges of Madison County : The Film, a book about the making of the film by Ken Regan.  Quotes.

 Brigadoon (1954) I saw this Lerner and Lowe movie musical in the 1960's, when I was in college. I liked it at the time. It's about a lovely town in Scotland that magically appears once every 100 years.  It's directed by Vincente Minnelli, danced, acted  and sung by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. Kelly, who serendipitously discovers Brigadoon and Cyd Charisse on the one day in 36,500 that the town appears, makes the mistake of leaving Brigadoon and Charisse to return to his important job in NYC. But, "if you love someone enough, anything is possible, even a miracle." He goes back to the spot where the town appeared to him and gosh darn if it doesn't appear for him again, even though only a few days, not 36,500, have passed.

 Brothers McMullen, The (1995) This is one of three movies written, directed and acted in by Edward Burns. The other two are She's the One and No Looking Back. I like all three. They're all romances, among other things.  Burns has a cool screen persona and is good at recreating the mileu from which he comes. His then real-life girl friend, Maxine Bahns, who was not an actress by trade but a Ph.D candidate, has a very appealing (to me, at least) screen presence. The movie also has an excellent performance by the guy who plays the grumpy father on TV's Frasier, John Mahoney. [more]

 Casablanca (1942) I first saw this movie in Cambridge, Massachusetts my third year as a student at Harvard Law. The poet, Robert Lowell, was sitting behind me. Afterwards, I looked at him. He said, "They don't make movies like that anymore, do they?" He was right. In 1992, when the movie was theatrically re-released in a restored version, I took my 16-year-old son to see it on one of the last of the really big screens. He liked it, too. Bogart, Bergman, Dooley Wilson ("As Time Goes By"), Heinred, Rains, Lorre, Greenstreet. If you prefer on-screen kissing to on-screen sex, as I do, this one has some of the best kissing ever seen on the big screen.

 Cass Timberlane (1947) Judge Cass Timberlane (Spencer Tracy) of Grand Republic, Minnesota falls in love with a trial witness with fine ankles (Lana Turner). She's younger, uneducated, and from a different background. But love will find a way. Somehow or other it does. Based on Sinclair Lewis' 1945 novel of the same name, a book I love. Alas, I haven't seen the movie, but I'd like to....

 Castaway (2000) In 1995 Tom Hanks, who seems to be filling the void left by Jimmy Stewart, says goodbye to fiancee played by Helen Hunt; plane crashes; Tom survives alone for nearly 5 years on South Seas island before being rescued. What sustains Tom on the island are a ball named Wilson and a picture of Helen -- and hope and love. On his trumphant welcome home he learns that Helen (who has been playing the unfaithful woman in movies a lot of late) has married another guy. (And truthfully, that is what any "castaway" should expect, isn't it?) Plane crash sequence is amazing. Director wisely doesn't provide any musical soundtrack to accompany Tom's isolation on island. All one hears is the sound of the powerful, relentless surf. Good title: this movie comes as close as any movie ever has or will to allowing the average moviegoer to experience the profound physical and psychological loneliness experienced by those who are, literally or figuratively, "castaway" from those they love.

 Circle of Friends  (1995) Minnie Driver can act. See, also, Grosse Pointe Blank and Good Will Hunting. I saw this movie in 1995 when I was in Cambridge, Massachusetts visiting my kids, both of whom were students there. It's a sweet  1950's coming-of-age tale about three Irish girls studying as freshmen at University College in Dublin. Driver falls for Chris O'Donnell in his best part, but Driver carries the movie. Movie has a wonderful sense of place and time. Well-reviewed here.

 Crossing Delancey (1988) This is a quiet, some might say boring movie about the romance of a supposedly plain Amy Irving and a fishmonger, Peter Riegert. I liked it the first time I saw it and have watched it a couple times on TV since.          

 Dark Passage (1947) This is not the best known of Bogart's movies but it's one of my favorites. Film noir at its best. Framed man, Bogart, escapes from prison, gets a new face from a back-alley plastic surgeon, gets shelter from Bacall, who believes in his innocence and helps him find the guy who framed him. Bogart eventually meets up with Bacall in Peru, where they live happily ever after (I like to think). Score, by Franz Waxman, makes wonderful use, at just the right times, of great Johnny Mercer song: "You're just too marvelous, too marvelous for words." Movie gives one a great sense of time (the '40's) and place (Frisco). Here is a link to some great audio clips.

 Don Juan de Marco (1995) This is a light but satisfying romantic comedy with a great cast, a clever plot, and a pleasant soundtrack (I gave a CD of it to a friend during the last  year of her life and it gave her considerable pleasure). Marlon Brando plays an old soon-to-be-retired psychiatrist who is rejuvenated when he's given the chance to treat the supposedly delusional Johnny Depp, who appears to be just a troubled young fellow from Queens but who says he's the great lover, Don Juan de Marco, and wants to kill himself over a thwarted love. The chief of staff predictably wants to take the easy approach and simply medicate Depp, but Brando wants to engage in a little old-fashioned depth analysis. He does so by posing as the legendary Don Octavio de Flores and getting Depp to describe his "delusions." These delusions are very seductive to Brando, who "enters" them, where he finds an idyllic love with Faye Dunaway.

 East of Eden (1954) One of James Dean's three movies, this one based on the John Steinbeck novel, set in Steinbeck Country, Salinas, California, just as the U.S. is being drawn into World War I. Raymond Massey plays the sanctimonious patriarch, who favors the other son, the good one, over the supposedly bad one, played by Dean. Dean discovers that their mother is not dead, as their dad has said, but is a tough madame, played by Jo Van Fleet, in a nearby house of prostitution. Dean tricks his brother into visiting her. The brother flips, gets drunk and joins the army. Dad has a stroke. Good brother's girl friend, Julie Harris, at her loveliest, really loves Jimmy, of course. She helps Jimmy and Dad reconcile. Good theme, by Leonard Rosenman. I've got it on an old 45 r.p.m. platter.  

Election (1999)  Matthew Broderick is a nice high school teacher who loses it all after he gets suckered into a romantic relationship by a student running for class office, Reese Witherspoon, whose Machiavellian political instincts would make her a match for Bill Clinton. When last seen by Broderick, who is down on his luck in D.C., she is entering a limo, presumably one she connived to get Bill to send for her.

 Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) John Hughes directed this fantasy that allows lovable (and he knows it) Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara (his beguiling girl friend), and a pal to skip school, "borrow" the pal's dad's beloved sports car and spend the day in downtown Chicago, where they eat in a fancy club, attend a Cub's game, and march in a parade. Even George Will, the conservative columnist, loved this movie.

 French Lieutenant's Woman, The (1981) Harold Pinter did a slick job of bringing John Fowles' romantic novel to the screen with loads of help from two very good actors, Maryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. The movie contrasts the off-screen romance of two actors on the set of a movie being made based on the novel. The suspense is over which romance will succeed, the real one between the actors on the set or the equally (or so it seems) real one in the movie being made.  

 Freshman, The (1990)  Matthew Broderick arrives in New York to attend college and immediately gets mixed up with "the mob." Marlon Brando, the don, makes the movie come alive, mocking his role in The Godfather as he takes Broderick under his wing, in fact grooming him to marry his daughter, Penelope Ann Miller.

Girl, Interrupted (1999)  This is a terrific film version of Susanna Kaysen's moving memoir of time spent in McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, in the late '60's. Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie both shine, but Jolie's wilder character allowed her to "act" in the way that garners more attention from those who give out awards for best acting. What does this movie have to do with romance? As with "jazz," if you have to ask, you'll never know.
 Goodbye Girl, The (1977) Another Neil Simon Broadway romantic comedy turned into a film. Richard Dreyfuss can make any movie one worth seeing.  Marsha Mason, Simon's real-life wife at the time, is the "Goodbye Girl" who is always getting dumped on by guys until Dreyfuss comes along.

 Good Will Hunting (1997) Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote the screenplay and acted in this winning movie set in Cambridge and Boston about a poor but brilliant guy, Damon, who gets in trouble with the law and is required to attend counseling sessions with therapist Robin Williams, who managed to stifle his urge to overact sufficiently that he won some awards for his acting. I was more attracted by the relationship between Damon and  Affleck and by the romance between Damon and Harvard student, Minnie Driver, who is a heck of an actress. One of the scenes between Damon and Driver takes place in a popular outdoor coffee shop in Harvard Square that I have been known to frequent.

 Grosse Pointe Blank (1997) Minnie Driver and John Cusack, connect in this perversely witty dark romantic comedy about a hit-man named Blank (Cusack) who returns to the exclusive suburb, Grosse Pointe, MI,  for his 10th high school reunion, where he is followed by someone out to do him in.

 Groundhog Day (1993) Everybody likes this clever and wise romance starring Andie McDowell, Bill Murray, and the under-rated Chris Elliot.

 Heartbreak Kid, The (1972) This neglected romantic comedy was filmed in Minnesota, directed by Elaine May, who once did improvisational comedy with Mike Nichols. Her real-life daughter, Jeannie Berlin, and Charles Grodin play  young eastern Jewish newlyweds on their honeymoon in Florida. Berlin gets sunburned and is confined to their hotel room. Free to roam the beach, Grodin runs into a dazzlingly attractive blonde WASP, Cybill Sheperd, on a winter break from her studies at the good old University of Minnesota with her parents. In a hilarious hotel coffee-shop scene in which Berlin is pointing affectionately to old couples and saying "That's us in 50 years," Grodin takes her speech and breath away by telling her he's found someone else and wants a divorce. He then pursues Sheperd to frozen Minnesota, wooing her so persistently and presenting such a contrast with the typical Minnesota big blonde dumb duds she's used to that he succeeds, though not without fierce resistance from her flabbergasted (and perhaps anti-semitic) father. The movie ends at the wedding reception, which was filmed at a well-known Wayzata financier's mansion. At one point in the movie Sheperd invites Grodin to a weekend fireside rendezvous at her parents' cabin "in the mountains" of northern Minnesota. :-)

 High Fidelity (2000) The best movie I saw in 2000. John Cusack took it upon himself to shepherd Nick Hornby's cult-classic novel of the same name to the screen, changing the setting from England to Chicago but retaining the soul of the book. Cusack, one of my favorite actors, plays the lead role as the overaged adolescent owner of an old-fashioned LP record store.  Jack Black does a great job playing one of the store's two obsessed employees, who are walking encyclopedias of rock music trivia and are so contemptuous of certain performers and songs that they'd rather not have customers than customers who like "that" kind of crap. Cusack flips and has a series of meaningless relationships when his long-time girl friend, Iben Hjejle, dumps him. Angst-ridden, Cusack fights to win Jjejle back. Wisely, she takes him back. Tim Robbins, sporting a ridiculous hair style, has a minor part that's worth the price of admission. Joan Cusack, John's sister, who is equally talented, also delivers.

 High Society (1956) This is a Cole Porter vehicle for Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra, among others, but the best part -- the most romantic part -- is the classic boat scene in which Bing and Grace Kelly sing their chart-topping duet about "honeymooners at last alone, feeling far above par."

 Holiday Inn (1942) This is one of the most delightful movie musicals, set in an "inn" which is "saved" by Bing Crosby & Company's plan to lure customers by putting on a different musical for every holiday. Bing battles with Fred Astaire over "the woman," who has to choose between Fred and fame "out there," on the one hand, and good ol' Bing back at Holiday Inn.  Guess who wins? Bingo, of course, who debuts "White Christmas" in this movie, not in the movie of that name.

 Honeymoon in Vegas (1992) Nick Cage almost loses love-of-his-life Sarah Jessica Parker to sleazeball gambler-rich guy,  James Caan.  If you like Sarah Jessica Parker, as I do, you'll like the movie, because she's good in it. Pretty funny scene in which "flying" Elvis impersonators, Cage among them, make mass parachute landing in Vegas.

 I.Q. (1995) Meg Ryan is (believe it or not) the brainy niece of Albert Einstein, played by Walter Matthau. "Al" and his genius buddies in Princeton, NJ, take a liking to gifted auto mechanicTim Robbins and concoct a scheme to help him win Meg. Problem is, Meg wants to marry a genius, so her kids will be smart. What to do? Fool Meg into thinking Tim is a genius.

 It Happened One Night (1934) If you haven't seen this great romantic "road movie" directed by Frank Capra and starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, then it's about time you do.

 It's A Wonderful Life (1946) It's a wonderful life-affirming all-American movie about the good and bad of small town living, the good and bad of the banking profession, the good and bad of human behavior, and the difference one person can make in the lives of his family, friends and community. And deep at its core is a terrific romance between James Stewart, who is as good an actor as ever graced the screen, and Donna Reed, who is the fantasy ideal wife of not a few men, myself included. The entire cast is terrific, including Lionel Barrymore as "the bad banker" and What's-his-name as Clarence the Angel who helps the suicidal Jimmy realize he ain't such a bad guy after all. If you don't enjoy watching this movie at least once a year and getting a therapeutic "cry" from doing so, there's something wrong with you.

 Jeremy (1973) Just a made-for-TV movie, I think, but I was touched by it when I saw it. Glynnis O'Connor, as a teenager, was as appealing as they come, getting cast in a number of films and TV shows as the love interest for guys like Robby Benson. In this movie she plays a dancer and he a cellist, whose playing improves as his heart expands. Alas, their love is doomed by, guess who, the girl's dad, who has to "relocate."

 Jerry Maguire (1996) Tom Cruise is good in this movie as a high-flying sports agent who hits some rough times. But the real rough times come when he takes Renee Zellweger for granted (who could ever take her for granted?) and almost loses her. Cuba Gooding Jr. won an Academy Award for his performance. Bonnie Hunt is good as Renee's man-doubting sis. And the kid who plays Renee's son, who "connects" with good ole Tom, is darn good, too. Good soundtrack. Click here for tips on how to kiss like Zellweger, or here for the best lines from the movie including "You had me at hello."

 Key Largo (1948) I like this movie more than some of Bogart's more popular movies. Set in Key Largo, Florida, with the action taking place during a hurricane, which puts Lionel Barrymore, Bogart (war buddy of Barrymore's son, who was killed in action), Bacall (widow of the son), and Edward G. Robinson and his gang together in a house during the storm. Directed by John Huston. Great sense of place and time. The scene at the end when the storm is over and the shutters are thrown open, letting the sun in, is one of the great scenes in cinema history.  And the romantic feelings that naturally build between Bogart and Bacall are just what you'd expect (and want) when Bogart and Bacall are on screen together.

 Love Story (1970) They still show this tear-jerker by Erich Segal to incoming freshmen during orientation week at Harvard College. Oliver Barrett IV, blue-blooded, brainy jock, Harvard '64, Harvard Law '67 (my class), meets beautiful, feisty Jennifer Cavilleri, "an American of Italian descent," Radcliffe '64, they fall in love, get married despite his parents' disapproval, he gets high-paying $11,800-a-year job with big NYC law firm, she gets leukemia, dies. Ryan O'Neal plays Barrett and Ali McGraw, a Wellesley grad, plays Cavilleri. Tommy Lee Jones, Al Gore's roommate at Harvard, has a role in the film. Al and Tipper Gore apparently believe the movie is about them.