Love and romantic relationships have always held a special place in the world of visual storytelling, from the earliest on-stage stories of Shakespeare, to the romantic (and romantic-comedy) films that populate the world of cinema. With Valentine’s Day, the holiday of courtship and romance, right around the corner, what better way for Salt Lake Film Society to celebrate the power of love and film (and honor Saint Valentine) than discussing our favorite romantic/romantic-comedy films?
While these films are often more entertaining and absurd than they are true to the real-life relationships we celebrate on Valentine’s Day, the drama of romance and the often-happy endings they portray always seem to inject us with a bit of hope and optimism about our own lives, romantic or otherwise.
As Jason Sudeikis’s character remarks in the hit Apple TV series Ted Lasso, he believes in “rom-communism”. “If all those attractive people can go through some light-hearted struggles and still end up happy, then so can we! Believing in rom-communism is all about believing that everything’s gonna work out in the end.” So take a look at what the SLFS Staff picked for their favorite romantic films, and see what stories make us believe that everything will (or won’t) work out in the end.
Our Staff Picks for This Valentine’s Day
CITY LIGHTS (1931) – Tori Baker, President/CEO
- “The last shot of City Lights is simply one of the most heartbreaking film shots of any love story. The last line “Yes, I can see now?” and its complex meaning makes the shot a masterpiece. The hilarious journey of the Tramp falling in love with a blind flower girl — who believes he’s a wealthy patron — is a “must” in the staple of unusual romance stories. This one takes us on a journey that both affirms the best of humanity, and also slaps us with the complexities of our social strata in America.”
ADDICTED TO LOVE (1997) – Stephen Simmons, Associate Director of Production
- “‘90’s Roms Coms are my guilty pleasure (my runner up was HIGH FIDELITY). The one that stands out most is ADDICTED TO LOVE. Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick are the perfect anti-heroes in this neurotic love story. Have you ever had your heart broken? Have you ever wanted to get revenge? This playful and hilarious black comedy pushes the boundaries of what one might do for love (or lack of). This is one of those films that is a comfort if you are down in the dumps. or just got dumped. If you have any symptoms of a broken heart, this might be your Valentine’s cure.”
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) – Rachel Getts, Associate Director of Digital Content
- “IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT has everything: Enemies to lovers? Check. Rich vs. poor? Check. Witty sexy banter? Check. This ’30s classic has just the right mixture of humor and romance. Gable and Colbert are such a killer pairing. From their first meeting it is without a doubt that these two are made for each other-if they could just get out of their own way. A must-watch every year.”
DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) – Marcie Collett, Associate Director of Development
- “I actually love watching romances fail more than succeed, especially if a woman is mostly in charge, as Barbara Stanwyck is in DOUBLE INDEMNITY, or Joan Crawford in MILDRED PIERCE, or Bette Davis in THE LITTLE FOXES. I do enjoy the romantic success of Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis in SOME LIKE IT HOT, but really I’m happy for Jack Lemmon as he finds the most understanding lover who in the end tells him, “Nobody’s perfect.” Also Cher and Nicholas Cage in MOONSTRUCK have the most iconic romantic slap and line, “Snap out of it!” Finally, I just love Kyle in TERMINATOR when he says “I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have.”
HITCH (2005) – Jesse Sindelar, Development Manager
- “For many film fans, the “rom-com” is a guilty pleasure, a bit of corny junk food to supplement the larger film palette. When it comes to HITCH though, for me there’s no guilt involved. It has all the rom-com tropes executed to stylish perfection: beautiful and charming people who struggle to make it work as they learn more about each other, slight miscommunications that hold the entire plot together, quality physical comedy between Will Smith and Kevin James, and a happy, heartfelt ending that makes all the corn and self-sabotaging failures worth it. This film makes you actually believe that love is right around the corner if you just try hard enough, or if you give a well-timed and passionate monologue full of emotional truths and clever metaphors. Plus, seeing Will Smith drunk on Benadryl is a wish I never knew I had.”
ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004) – Susan Tive, Head of Philanthropy
- “Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry teamed up to create one of my favorite romantic comedies. Released in 2004, Eternal Sunshine stars Jim Carey and Kate Winslet playing Joel and Clementine, lovers who break up and attempt to make that final by erasing each other from their memories through a new scientific procedure. While they hope that a spotless mind will eliminate the past and thus the painful moments of their relationship, the film shows us that love, and its associated moments and memories become essential parts of who we are and that what connects us to one another remains indelible whether we choose to pay attention to it or not.”
Art House Films in Salt Lake City – SLFS
At Salt Lake Film Society, we love a good story on the big screen, whether it’s a love story or not. The emotion that films make us feel sits at the heart of what makes us human, and love is one of the most powerful emotions of them all. While these staff selections might not all have the happy endings or light-hearted, positive emotions you want out of a love story, we hope they offer some interesting insight into the wide variety of romantic (and romantically-comedic) films out there, and maybe even provide a good movie to watch for your Valentine’s Day celebration.
Find some Valentine’s Day cards for your favorite movie-goer from SLFS here.