By Felix Vasquez Jr. | May 9, 2007

I can’t stomach too many romance movies these days, and I’ve always hated how romance is slipped into almost anything to garner some form of padding for the plot. Sometimes the love between two people is sweet, and many times it’s worthy of a groan and an eye roll. So, I thought of my favorite romances, and as expected, the list is slim, but hot damn, these movies are still great. You know the deal, cool cats, spoilers and the like.

The Getaway (1972)
It’s almost impossible to write a list about romance films and not include something from McQueen. Although, “The Getaway,” one of my favorite action films of all time, and my favorite from McQueen, it’s the unlikely candidate, but it’s technically a romance, and a damn good one. Doc McCoy is a man in prison whose own wife Carol is sleeping with almost anyone so she can to ensure his safety. And finally her sleeping around has granted him a release from jail. But, oddly enough, he treats her like crap. Whether it’s resentment for rescuing him, or resentment for having to sleep around in order to rescue him, the relationship between McQueen and McGraw is as hot on-screen as it was off. They love each other to death, even if they hardly get along. One of my favorite scenes in the film involves McCoy slapping Carol to kingdom come after she decides to blast Jack Beynon, much to Doc’s surprise, in his office. McCoy’s character is defined in that instance as in a fit of panic, Carol turns the gun on him, and he prepares to shoot back. Alongside the road, he slaps her repeatedly, which is a scene that always makes me laugh. If you know a lot about McQueen, you’ll know why. The slaps McQueen gives McGraw are all real, and the screams and struggling from her are also real. It’s a hysterical scene, but also it defines their relationship as accomplices, and lovers. I watch “The Getaway” every three months. It’s the best McQueen ever offered. Also, it’s hard to hate the rib fight between Fran and Rudy. “I don’t… like this game… anymore!!”

Deadly Friend (1986)
How many young men can actually take their neighborhood hotty and turn them into robots? And really, did the end to this film make the slightest bit of sense? But the real question you have to ask is, who was more in love with Paul in the end, Samantha, or BB, the robot? Either way, this horror flick from Craven is surely one of my favorite fractured romances about a Suburban Frankenstein who can’t quite let go of his crush. Kristy Swanson is the epitome of hotness as the neighborhood sweetheart Samantha. She’s everything the geeky Paul wants in a mate. But her abusive father clobbers her, and she’s down for the count. Paul does the only natural thing attempting to grieve for her. He takes the chip from his amazing robot BeeBee, and proceeds to store it in her brain which brings her back to life in a zombified presence. Undead, stiff, in a perpetual Klingon salute, and still surprisingly hot, she follows Paul around, interrupts his life, and proceeds to reek pure bloody vengeance on everyone that hurt BeeBee and Samantha. But is Samantha controlling the chip, or is BeeBee controlling Samantha, and most importantly, is it possible to blow someone’s head up with a basketball if thrown with enough force? I’d like to try that. Regardless, the climax is nonsensical, but the film does have that “Re-Animator” vibe with Paul’s brains becoming his downfall. Ah, young love.

Barefoot in the Park (1967)
This is one of the few honest to goodness romances I can stomach mainly because Robert Redford and Jane Fonda work as a couple. I’m not usually a fan of these cheesy romances, but Neil Simon composes such a hilarious tale of two newlyweds, that I was in tears the whole time. Not a single moment is wasted here. From Fonda’s devilishly sexy and clingy wife who will not let Redford out of her sight, to their new apartment building’s steps that climb like a mountain. Best of all is the argument between the two about Redford’s character Paul being a stuffed shirt, and his inevitable attempts to prove he can be fun, while also nearly killing himself in the process. Robert Redford is a man of many talents, and I’m not just saying that because I want to go to Sundance one day. Seriously, Redford handles charm and comedy about as well as Cary Grant did, and “Barefoot in the Park” is proof positive. His interaction with Charles Boyer, and his cringing to the bitterness of the mysterious finger foods Boyer concocts is utterly hysterical. One of my favorite lines involves Paul arguing with his wife and leaving her. After she threatens to get a big guard dog, he chuckles with “A big dog. That’s a laugh. He’ll take one look at those steps, and go for her throat.” Redford and Fonda have a palpable chemistry many Hollywood movies can’t create these days.

The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)
Father and daughter Jack and Rose love each other. A lot. A lot. I mean it, a lot. Jack and Rose spend an awfully large amount of time on an old commune that has been abandoned thanks to rebuilding of suburbs and whatnot. And Jack and Rose don’t need anyone else. Now Jack has met a gorgeous single mom who has decided to move into the island with her demented sons, and Rose is pissed. And jealous. But mostly jealous. I recall a moment while watching this where my sister remarked, “I think she’s in love with her dad.” That was hard to figure out, thanks a lot. And, how utterly uncomfortable was the sequence where Jack and Rose finally lock lips? Gross. Camilla Bell in her usual hit or miss accuracy is creepy and oddly appealing as the ill-raised Rose who has been convinced, through no fault of her dad’s, that all she needs in the world is Jack and Jack alone. But Jack has cancer, and now he’s vainly attempting to wean his daughter off of him and on to new people, but it’s clear from minute one that in a past life, these two were meant for one another, and were given the ultimate practical joke of being father and daughter. Daniel Day Lewis is utterly fantastic as this man who begins to notice his daughter’s true feelings once the outsiders arrive, and Rose begins to rebel in disturbing ways. A romance for the ages.

He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not (2002)
Don’t you hate it when the woman who is in love with you tries to bash your brains in? I do. Audrey Tatou shocked and appalled me with this twisted romance thriller about this young girl who can’t quite take the hint. Still coming off of her role from “Amelie” I was surprised to see her as this young woman Angelique who is unable to let her boyfriend go. She sees him with a different woman and often thinks about him, all to no avail. But then director Colombani twists the story, and scenarios around for the audience and we then realize, hell, she’s not a jilted lover, she’s actually his stalker! But, is her love any less pure? I’d say no, good sir. Tatou is a living doll, and I’d be able to forgive being smashed in the head and knocked down stairs by her if it meant sleeping beside her at night. Love overcomes many obstacles, my friends. Many obstacles.

Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (1992)
Not many people enjoy this, but next to Castle’s Bela Lugosi starrer, this is for my money the best Dracula interpretation ever made. Coppola not only created his own unique vision of Dracula, but the film was also, and still is utterly compelling to watch. Hell, I won’t lie, if I were an immortal undead vampire lord, I’d be stealing other men’s women folk, too. With women around the world like Monica Bellucci, and Isabella Soprano, I’d be seducing like it’s going out of style. Coppola’s version of Dracula is still an entertaining and wonderfully directed horror flick about a man who can’t quite let go of his love. Why he’d be interested in Winona Ryder of all people is anyone’s guess, but hell, he has the power, and the two actually manage to fall in love. Most of the lovey dubbeys are thanks in part to Dracula’s incredible power to manipulate dreams and visions, but you could sense Ryder’s Mina fell deep for the man with chompers, even if he was older than dust. The love triangle between Dracula, Mina, and Jonathan is still awfully nail-biting, and it’s just never easy to admit you’ve been replaced by a demon of the night. And there is of course the cameo from Monica Bellucci which is nothing to sneeze at.

Zombie Honeymoon (2004)
Don’t take the title too seriously, because the movie is excellent enough without you prejudging it. “Zombie Honeymoon” proves that love conquers all, and some women will stand by their men be they abusive, drunkards, disabled, and even the undead. With a hefty amount of low expectations, director Gebroe completely surprises with a heart wrenching and brutally morbid tale of Denise and Danny. Y’see, Denise and Danny are newlyweds who are on their honeymoon, and while spooning, wouldn’t ya know it, Danny is attacked by a mysterious figure who spews black bile all over him. This kills Danny, who then re-emerges as a zombie. His hunger for meat becomes uncontrollable, and Denise decides to brush the elephant in the room under the rug. Which Danny eats. Played with utter grace, stars Coogan and Sibley convinced me they were newlyweds, and Coogan kept me on her side even when letting her best friends be chomped on by the zombified Danny. Hell, this is a romance that surpasses life. If you’re actually looking for an original film that you or your wife/girl-friend can enjoy, then this would be a surefire crowd pleaser. While you’re oohing and aahing at the above par visual effects, make up, gore, violence, horror, and zombies, your wife can enjoy the very good performances, heart wrenching story, and genuine characterization.

So, by all means, what are some of your favorite romances?

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  1. Michael Ferraro says:

    Joe Hallenbeck and his wife in The Last Boy Scout. They both live but their relationship is pretty chaotic.

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