Well, does anyone of us ever come to think of Hollywood’s most memorable romance classics spanning decades? As an ardent admirer of romance and the alluring Hollywood musicals, I unmistakably feel my pulses rising with the sheer magic and aura of the timeless romances portrayed so very lovingly in the silver screen of the yesteryears. Be it the ever-touching saga of star-crossed lovers meeting during wartime under the Moorish arches of Rick’s Café American in “Casablanca”, or the sweeping melodrama, “Gone With The Wind”– based on Margaret Mitchell’s bestselling Civil War epic (which defined the term “Hollywood blockbuster”), I have an insatiable appetite for each of them.
Oh how can I ever forget the sweeping emotions of the magic of a shipboard romance which charms a Frenchman and American woman (Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne, respectively) into each other’s arms in the ever-memorable “Love Affair”? Or do you 123movies remember that phenomenal romance between Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in “An Affair To Remember”, where a man and a woman meet on a ship crossing an ocean and fall in love, only to part ways, promising to meet dramatically on the top of Empire State Building, New York (which unfortunately, doesn’t happen later)? Equally unforgettable to my mind is the all-time epic love saga, “Roman Holiday”, which happens to be the most priceless transient romance between a disguised princess and a handsome American reporter (Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, respectively).
When you come to think of candlelight romances, serenading, wooing the beloved or star-crossed epic love sagas, you would obviously mark the romantic chemistry between the lover and his beloved as the quintessential foundation behind these wonderful, witty and immensely touching tales of true love. Interestingly, the success of these blockbusters in romance in Hollywood comes from incorporating core elements of Hollywood (especially the music), classical romance elements and a degree of sentimentality which, again, is quite stylishly sophisticated in nature.
The 50’s and 60’s were the hey days of classic romance in Hollywood, when ethos, pathos, happy endings, heart-wrenching goodbyes and romantic love scenes along with power-packed performances by some of Hollywood’s heartthrobs like Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and Marilyn Monroe were the staple of every young heart. Now, I would rather not attempt this article as a primer of cinematic history comprising the best films of all times from the classic romance genre, for that is the job of an encyclopedia and not that of a human. And these days, you are sure to get plentiful of those online. So I would limit my writing to the discussion of only some of the milestones of our cinematic past, the era and the cultural milieu behind the production of these masterpieces, which again, comes from the sheer love I feel towards these movies.
While today, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, MGM and Columbia (Sony) are some of the pioneers in Hollywood film production and distribution, in the yesteryears, Paramount Pictures, the longest-lived American movie studio, used to lead the arena of American motion picture production and distribution. Those were the blissful times when the Hollywood studio system produced classic movies embodying a refined, evocative method of storytelling that left something to the audience’s imagination. While this was true right from the early nineteen hundred and thirties’ till the sixties’, the audience those days were fed on films which did adhere to certain standards of discretion and used established cinematic devices to imply what they could not say explicitly. Without an iota of blatant sensory stimulations, the sheer use of compelling stories and characters, snappy dialogue, high production values (including those of cinematography, editing, shot composition, scoring, sets and costuming) and above all, extra-ordinary acting prowess of the stars those days gave birth to some of the most celebrated reel romances of all times, including “Gone With the Wind”, “West Side Story”, “Casablanca”, “Roman Holiday”, “My Fair Lady” and “An Affair to Remember”.
The 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, combined, was also the era producing the greatest silver screen legends like Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, the irresistibly handsome Cary Grant and the super charismatic Gregory Peck, the celebrated smidgens Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Sofia Lauren, Audrey Hepburn, and the ravishing Greta Garbo and Marilyn Monroe. Interestingly enough, did you know that recently the AFI has ranked the greatest love stories of the first century of American cinema, with “Casablanca” attaining the numero uno position? “Gone With The Wind” and “West Side Story” come only next to it among the greatest reel classics of America.