Jewish World Review June 21 2002 / 11 Tamuz, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The American Film Institute has recently released their list of the top 100 movie love stories of all time. The predictable ones are all on the list, of course. "Casablanca" is number one, "Gone with The Wind" number two, with "West Side Story," "Roman Holiday" and "An Affair to Remember" rounding out the top five. But then it gets weird.
"It's a Wonderful Life" made the list at number eight. Now, I really like that movie and Jimmy Stewart is one of my favorite actors -- BUT -- is it a "love story" in the true sense of the genre? I don't think so. When I think of "It's a Wonderful Life" I think Christmas story. Or fantasy story. But not a love story.
It gets even weirder. Like how about "King Kong" for a love story? It made the list at number 24. Yeah, yeah, I know -- King Kong loves Fay Wray and wants to run away into the jungle with her -- but come now, if we use that criteria, then "The Creature From The Black Lagoon" is a love story, too. And "The Bride of Frankenstein." And "The Mummy." And "Dracula." All those monsters wanted the girl in the film just like Kong did.
"Beauty and the Beast" and "Gigi" (numbers 34 and 35 respectively) definitely deserve to be on the list, but is "Singin' in the Rain" a "love story' or is it primarily a fun musical comedy? And at number 16 it's rated higher on the list then most.
I wouldn't consider the classic screwball comedy "Bringing Up Baby" (number 51) a love story either. You might as well add "Arsenic And Old Lace" and "You Can't Take it With You" to the list. And "A Star Is Born" is more of a story of Hollywood then it is a romance. Other strange choices were, "To Catch a Thief," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "Bonnie and Clyde," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and "Working Girl."
Omissions are numerous. The Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn romance "Woman of the Year" is rightfully included, but where are the other wonderful pictures they did together like "Pat and Mike" "Desk Set" and "Adam's Rib?" They included Walt Disney's animated film, "Lady and the Tramp" on the list but no mention of "Sleeping Beauty" or "Snow White" or "Cinderella." Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" made the cut but why not "Rebecca," "Notorious," or "Spellbound?"
Also missing from the list are "Jane Eyre," "Love Affair," "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex," "Born Yesterday," Raintree County," "The World of Suzy Wong," "Love in the Afternoon," "Humoresque," "Rocky," "State Fair," "The Heiress," "Mr. Skeffington," "The Farmer's Daughter," "Miracle in the Rain," "Sayonara," "Carousel," "The Country Girl," etc. etc.
No Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney pictures. Only one Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers mentioned (Swing Time). And the only Richard Burton/Liz Taylor picture to get a nod was "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" If that's romance, then "Come Back, Little Sheba" should be on the list. Then you can throw in some Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill for good measure. Talk about tough love!
But the biggest omission is that of William Powell and Myrna Loy, who arguably had the greatest romantic chemistry ever on film as Nick and Nora Charles in their wonderful "Thin Man" features. Oddly, even though both Powell and Loy had screen careers spanning decades, not one film from either of them made the list.
However, Rob Reiner had three on the list, "The Princess Bride," "When Harry Met Sally," and "The American President." So there you go. Which only goes to prove... I don't know what it goes to prove, actually. Except that, when it comes to Hollywood, love is never having to necessarily get it right.
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.