Quiet Desperation

Movies make sense in a world that doesn’t


During these strange days and nights, many of you are watching films to pass time. So am I: mostly comedies, mysteries, and, believe it or not, love stories.

Yes, I am a bread crumb-encrusted old frog, but deep down (very deep) I am a romantic, bread crumb-encrusted old frog, with some love story suggestions.

I can’t, however, recommend “Love Story,” the 1970 movie based on Erich Segal’s book. Segal was a Harvard, Yale, and Princeton professor who should have known better. I hope he grimaced all the way to the bank.

Everyone knows about “Casablanca,” so I will skip it. The same goes for “When Harry Met Sally” and “Titanic.”

One of my favorites is “Amélie,” directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tautou. It is exceptionally clever, visually exquisite (note: reds and greens throughout), and has a perfect soundtrack.

“Amélie” was my introduction to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a female Bo Diddley.

Have you seen Travelocity’s garden gnome commercials? The marketing team swiped the idea from “Amélie.”

A drama released in 1946 is guaranteed to make your eyes blurry when Frederic March returns from the war and surprises Myrna Loy.

“The Best Years of Our Lives” includes an unforgettable scene of a B-17 and B-25 graveyard.

Look for: armless Homer (Harold Russell) asks Butch (Hoagy Carmichael) if he knows “Lazy River,” when Butch is playing piano in his Boone City bar.

Carmichael composed “Lazy River.”

Boone City is based on Cincinnati.

“Random Harvest” isn’t on my list, nor is “Wuthering Heights,” but both of them get votes from other film critics.

Is it possible to fall in love with a painting of a woman? Ask Dana Andrews who bids on a presumed dead woman’s portrait in “Laura,” also starring Gene Tierney.

Taking the presumed dead infatuation further, I recommend Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.” James Stewart falls in love with Kim Novak twice: once when she portrays Madeleine and then when she reappears as Judy.

John Wayne’s wooden acting goes well with Maureen O’Hara’s feisty performance in John Ford’s “The Quiet Man,” brilliantly filmed (except for the annoying rear projections) in Ireland.

“A Star is Born”? Not for me but for many others. Every era has its own, going back to Fredric March and Janet Gaynor, up to Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

How about some offbeat love stories? Top of my list is “Harold and Maude,” starring Bud Cort, Ruth Gordon, and Cat Stevens’ songs.

At the time of filming, Gordon was 51 years older than Cort.

Cat Stevens appears in a funeral scene; look closely.

The strangest love story? “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” It starred Peter Sellers who portrayed Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, United States President Merkin Muffley, and Dr. Strangelove.

Strongly recommended: “Roman Holiday.” If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil the ending. Audrey Hepburn co-starred with a man her own age, unlike “Love in the Afternoon” with Gary Cooper (Cooper was 28 years older than Hepburn), or “Sabrina” with Humphrey Bogart (Bogart was 30 years older than Hepburn).

Hepburn, by the way, was born Audrey Kathleen Ruston.

There’s “Say Anything,” starring Ione Skye and Jon Cusack.

Skye is Scottish singer Donovan’s daughter. Donovan had hits with “Catch the Wind,” “Mellow Yellow” and “Jennifer Juniper.”

Finally, Charlie Chaplin’s love for the blind girl in “City Lights” is incomparable.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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