Valentine’s Day is nigh, and as sales of candy, flowers, and see-through lingerie sky-rocket, it’s important to remember the reason for the season: celebrating your love for your significant other, and possibly getting laid in the process. Here’s a selection of classic romance movies to set the mood; single people should stick with porn and preferably lay low on the 14th, so as not to kill the mood for everybody else.
West Side Story (1961). A classic “boy meets girl, boy and girl struggle to be together despite racial intolerance, boy knifes girl’s brother and screws everything up” story, set against the backdrop of an impending rumble between rival gangs of delinquent jazz dancers. It’s Romeo and Juliet the way William Shakespeare would have written it if musical theater had been invented sooner.
Most Romantic Moment: Tony (Richard Beymer, Silent Night, Deadly Night III) runs through the streets of Spanish Harlem calling out desperately for his beloved Maria (Natalie Wood, Brainstorm). Surprisingly, she’s the only one who comes to her window.
Love Story (1970). Two college students, one a privileged young man (Ryan O’Neal, Fever Pitch), the other an independent working-class girl (Ali MacGraw, Convoy) fall deeply in love. The couple struggles financially when the man’s family disowns him for shacking up with a Radcliffe girl. Their love proves to be too strong for any of those obstacles, however, and they soon marry. Then she gets cancer and dies.
Most Romantic Moment: McGraw tells O’Neal that “love means never having to say you’re sorry” — which is, quite simply, a load of horseshit.
Sid & Nancy (1986). A haunting tale of the obsessive, mutually destructive relationship between Sex Pistols bass player Sid Vicious (Gary Oldman, Brian Stoker’s Dracula) and girlfriend/groupie Nancy Spungen (Chloe Webb, Twins). Sid and his bandmates Paul, George, and Ringo, struggle to hit it big as rockstars in the fledgling punk scene. They start to accuse Nancy of splitting up the band — partly because she feeds Sid’s drug habit, partly because she’s incredibly annoying. Sid parts company with the band in favor of a solo career, but he and Nancy are unable to cope with the pressures of fame.
Most Heartbreaking Moment: Sid fulfills a Shakespearean murder-suicide pact with his lover, stabbing Nancy to death in their room at the Chelsea Hotel and then promptly taking his own life by overdosing on heroin four months later.
Top Gun (1986). While competing with the best of the best at an elite flight school, hot shot fighter pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise, Legend) finds himself torn between his feelings for his “wingman”, the suggestively code-named Goose (Anthony Edwards, Gotcha!) and his instructor, Charlie (Kelly McGillis, North). Maverick goes into an emotional tailspin when Goose is killed during a training exercise, but pulls out in time to shoot down half the Soviet air force and pursue his need for speed with Charlie.
Most Heartbreaking Moment: As the crew celebrates its victory over Communism, Iceman (Val Kilmer, Willow), knowing his own unspoken love for Maverick will go unrequited, puts on a brave face and tells him: “You are still dangerous, and you can fly my tail anytime.”
Fatal Attraction (1987). Alex (Glenn Close, who is not a dude) falls for Dan (Michael Douglas, Spartacus), a married man who’s only interested in a weekend fling. Alex falls hard for Dan, and pursues him relentlessly, desperate to woo him away from his family. Dan coldly dismisses her as being needy and possibly disturbed. Alex, knowing that a restraining order is just another way of saying “I love you”, sneaks into Dan’s home to cook him a surprise dinner, and inadvertantly boils his daughter’s pet bunny rabbit in the process.
Most Heartbreaking Moment: A distraught, heartbroken Alex begs her true love to stop ignoring her.
Pretty Woman (1990). A modern-day My Fair Lady, about a wealthy corporate mogul (Richard Gere, Breathless) who rents Vivian (Julia Roberts, Flatliners), the only prostitute in Los Angeles without an addiction, STD, or pimp, and turns her into a high class lady whom he then marries. The movie launched Julia Roberts’ career and was Disney’s first big hit of the ’90s, not surprisingly, since it’s like Cinderella with hookers. (Take note ladies: The best way to find the man of your dreams is to be the whore who holds out for more.)
Most Heartbreaking Moment: Vivian and Edward find a dead hooker in an alley, reminding both how lucky they are to have found each other.
Beauty and the Beast (1991). Belle, a beautiful peasant girl, is rescued from wolves (both the four- and two-legged varieties) by a prince who’s been transformed into a monster in retaliation for being a bit of an asshole to a cranky old lady. The Beast’s manners are a little lacking thanks in part his only companions for the past few years having been an Oedipal tea set, an uptight alarm clock, and a swishy French candlelabra; however, after a few musical numbers and romantic misunderstandings, the two fall madly in love.
Most Heartbreaking Moment: Although Belle has learned to accept him for who he is, Beast is aware of the burden of dating an unattractive person, and he does the noble thing by magically transforming himself into a handsome stud.