The Snob Seven: Love Stories

A few favorite films that look at love and relationships.
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Whether you celebrate St Valentine's or not, here are a few favorite films that look at love and relationships:

City Lights (1931)

Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp falls in love with a blind, flower-shop worker (Virginia Cherrill).  She thinks he's rich and he doesn't dissuade her of that notion. He endeavors to raise money for an operation to restore her sight.  Admittedly, the Tramp's love is superficial, based purely on the blind girl's looks, but the emotion of the scene when she realizes that this Tramp is her savior overwhelms me so much, I have been know to get choked up just thinking about it.

Of Mice and Men (1939 & 1992)

John Steinbeck's classic novel is about the brotherly devotion between two migrant workers in Northern California who dream of getting a farm of their own.  George (Burgess Meredith and Gary Sinise) looks after Lennie (Lon Chaney, Jr. and John Malkovich), whose combination of strength and limited mental capacities causes problems wherever they go.  Only someone who loved Lennie could make the gut-wrenching decision George has to in the story's climax.

Manhattan (1979)

Woody Allen's love letter to New York is also an entertaining look at the pursuit of love and the dysfunctional relationships it can lead to.  Isaac (Allen), divorced from Jill (Meryl Streep) who left him for a woman, is dating 17-year-old Tracy (Mariel Hemingway).  His married friend Yale (Michael Murphy) has an affair with Mary (Diane Keaton), and when they break up, Yale suggests Isaac start seeing Mary.  Isaac ends his relationship with Tracy to do so but then Yale comes back after Mary.  The script by Allen and Marshall Brickman is very smart and funny, and Gordon Willis' black and white cinematography makes clear why he is a legend in his field.

When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

Director Rob Reiner delivered an impressive run of comedies in the 1980s with films like This Is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, and this romantic comedy, based on a script by Nora Ephron.  The film tracks the lives of friends Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally and the complications that arise when they become more than that. 

Defending Your Life (1991)

Albert Brooks wrote and directed this romantic comedy set in the afterlife.  Brooks plays Daniel, a man likely to be reincarnated back on Earth because of the fearful way he led his life rather than moving on to the next plane of existence.  That might have been all right, if he hadn't met Julia (Meryl Streep), who lived a courageous life and is certain to advance.

Love, Actually (2003) by Mary K. Williams

Is this too big of a movie for Valentine's Day? If you just want a simple boy meets girl scenario, you've got it. Love, Actually will deliver with a couple of sweet romantic love stories. But these tales are woven with other folks and other kind of loves, rather like real life.  Say what you will about Hugh Grant, but he is perfectly cast as the charming and earnest young Prime Minister of London who falls for a common working girl. But alongside the hearts and flowers, are tales of Liam Neeson's paternal love for a spunky stepson, Emma Thompson's platonic love for a widowed friend, and a young boy's first crush. Mixed in is the deep friendship of an aging rock star (Bill Nighy) with his "fat manager", Laura Linney's devotion to her unstable brother and much more.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Based on the short story by Annie Proulx, Ang Lee's film tells of the love affair between Wyoming cowboys Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) from 1963 to 1983.  The story's emotions are powerful as the men struggle with their desires and the reactions of others.  The most important aspect of the film is that at its core their relationship is no different from that of heterosexuals, a rare revelation in mainstream films. 

What film about love would be on your list?

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