With February being the month of Valentine’s Day I suppose love was on my mind. That is why I have profiled 2 classic Hollywood romances for my family movie night picks. I hesitated at first because it can be difficult to convince kids to see classic films but I still think the attempt is worth being made. I know I was very inspired by classic films, especially romances and many other kids will at least be amused by them. With that said, today we are going to talk about 2 fabulous films- Roman Holiday and An Affair to Remember.
An Affair to Remember
1957’s An Affair to Remember is actually a remake of a 1939 film called Love Affair with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. The same director Leo McCarey remade his own film and he made it very schmaltzy but with enough style and class to pull it off.
In the leads you have Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr as strangers who meet on a transatlantic trip to Europe. He is the playboy artist and she is the stressed out teacher with a boyfriend she feels apathetic towards. They hate each other at first but of course the sparks fly!
Nothing about An Affair to Remember is original or daring. It is all very sentimental and maudlin but it is all done with such panache and charisma from the leads that it works. Eventually the 2 are separated and fate strikes a blow against their being together. Will it work out? What will happen? You will just have to watch and see.
It’s every bit as campy and cheesy as you guess but I love it. I think a lot of the credit has to go to Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr who are so great together and command the screen in a way few stars do today. I just went to see the new romance The Choice and it tries to do some of the same beats (opposites attract, playboy/good girl, emotional tragic ending) but it so doesn’t work. Here’s how to do all of that right. Perhaps if your girls want to go to The Choice suggest they watch An Affair to Remember instead on Netflix! That would be my recommendation.
1953’s Roman Holiday is in the running for the greatest romances ever put to film, and I can vouch that little girls love it because my nieces do! (Although they are a little bummed out by the ending, which they will grow to appreciate later in life). Directed by William Wyler it is practically a perfectly executed film.
Roman Holiday stars Gregory Peck as Joe Bradley, a newspaper man stationed in Rome who needs a big break to keep his job. Audrey Hepburn makes her debut performance as a princess named Ann (or Anya) who is fed up with all the pampering and babying and escapes for a weekend on her own. The two meet and at first Joe thinks he may be able to get the big story he has been hoping for so he shows her the town. They are accompanied by his photographer friend Irving played with great comedic effect by Eddie Albert.
Like An Affair to Remember, Roman Holiday gets a long way on the strength of its stars. Hepburn and Peck have great chemistry together. The script by then blacklisted Dalton Trumbo (Oscar winning) allows their relationship to grow authentically, so even though it has only been a weekend it feels like a natural, believable bond.
The other star of Roman Holiday is Rome. This is a rare film from the 50’s shot on site. There are no Hollywood soundstages imitating Rome. It is the real deal. Whether it is putting hands in the Mouth of Truth or riding a scooter down the streets, Rome never looked better. The black and white cinematography by Henri Alekan and Franz Planer still holds up and is beautiful.
Both An Affair to Remember and Roman Holiday can be watched on Netflix right now and I think they are well worth your time. There are so many terrible romance movies made today. Let’s all sit back and remember how to do it right.
What are some of your favorite romance films? I’d love to hear in the comments sections. Have you seen An Affair to Remember or Roman Holiday? Let me know.