As we approach Valentine’s Day (yes, it’s just a few days away) I think it’s only fitting that the topic of romance come into play in anticipation of the day meant to celebrate all things feelings. I’m not sure about you, but I have actually never celebrated Valentine’s Day with a loved one not related to me. Instead I spend the day (or week) loading up on conversational hearts, Reese Peanut Butter cups, and a collection of melodramas so depressing I become skeptical that love can actually end in anything but death. Regardless of my tendency to eat my feelings while crying over the tragic love found in Douglas Sirk films, I do enjoy happy love stories and tend to pair the sadder movies with some of my must-have romances. In honor of the big V-Day, I’d like to share my favorite 14 romantic scenes and also open it up the floor to hear your suggestions as well.
Here are my concluding seven romantic scenes to last week’s first half of this list. Bring out the smelling salts; you might need them after all these swoons.
7. The Princess Bride
“Is this a kissing book?” Um, yes young Fred Savage, it is indeed a kissing book. Well, I mean, there is more to The Princess Bride than kissing (like action, adventure, Andre the Giant. You get the picture.), but what most people remember so vividly from The Princess Bride is the everlasting love between Buttercup (Robin Wright) and her farm boy, Westley (Carey Elwes). After the young couple finally professes their feelings, Westley chooses to head to sea to make his fortune. He promises to return to his Buttercup, but is tragically lost before he can fulfill this last wish. Years go by, Buttercup tries to make her sad heart feel again, but no amount of wishing can help her. Despite her broken heart and headstrong resistance to love, Buttercup agrees to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) to help save her tiny village from destitution. Before she sets out, however, she is kidnapped by a shady pirate determined to keep her from marrying the Prince. Turns out (as you can see above) the shady pirate is actually her long lost Wesley who has never stopped, even for one moment, loving his darling Buttercup. Just as she wished.
6. An Officer and a Gentleman
While there are so many iconic romantic moments we could have highlighted here, such as the boombox scene in Say Anything or Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) scooping up Scarlet O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and storming up the stairs to ravage her (rape-fantasy much?) in Gone With the Wind, I find a completely different sweeping a lady off her feet scene even more sensual than anything Golden Hollywood could muster. As far as classic love images go, nothing can beat the final moments of An Officer and A Gentleman when recent Naval Officer graduate (and all-around Mayor of Charmville) Zack Mayo (Richard Gere) honors his lady love Paula (Debra Winger), the woman who helped him get through the arduous emotional drain that is Flight School, by marching into her factory, passionately kissing her, and finally picking her up in his brawny arms and determinedly walking right on out of there. You don’t even have to know anything else about the film to know that this scene perfectly wraps up the hardships both halves of the couple had to go through to get this happy ending.
5. North & South
I have a little secret for all you Downton Abbey fanatics. Stop what you are doing right now (well, first finish reading this list) and add North & South (the one with the ampersand, not the one starring Patrick Swayze) to your Instant Queue. This 2004 BBC adaptation of the Elizabeth Gaskell novel by the same name is the ultimate in dizzy-spell inducing romances. The star-crossed lovers Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe) and John Thornton (Richard Armitage) meet-smoldery at Thornton’s factory and spend four hours battling their personal feelings and inner demons. This is some delicious period acting, my friends. I’m fanning myself just thinking about it, honestly.
Well, as you can imagine with all this smolder and emotional control it certainly comes as a surprise to Margaret (not us though, we’ve been taking bets!) when Thornton proposes marriage halfway through the film. She refuses him in the most brutal way, choosing to point out his flaws and inconsideration to the workers in his own factory. He falters, almost begging for Margaret to listen to reason, but finally takes one final look at her with sad, puppy eyes and walks away. Taking with him every viewer’s held breath. Oh Thornton, you are just too heartbreaking for your own good.
4. You’ve Got Mail
I think almost every romance lover reading this has spent at least one weekend a month watching the edited for TV version of You’ve Got Mail, guaranteeing the 1998 romantic comedy a place on the guilty pleasure shelf. A charming time capsule to a generation when online dating was still exciting and not completely dominated by investment bankers, horny misanthropes, or creepers, the love affair between Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) and Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) blossoms naturally with the aid of email and instant messaging. Joe has kept a huge secret from Kathleen, that he is the anonymous man she’s been falling steadily in love with throughout the film, but right before they part ways for the online couple to finally meet he lets her know just how much he wishes she could love him. Joe recognizes the pain he caused her, chooses to accept blame, and now wants to share with Kathleen an imaginary world where the two of them could have been perfectly happy, leaving Kathleen much to think about as she waits in the Riverside park for her true prince’s identity to be revealed.
3. Bridget Jones’ Diary
Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) will be the first to tell you she is a total mess. Her love life is nothing to envy, her eating habits are atrocious, and she is convinced she will die alone eaten by wolves in her tiny flat. To say Bridget is a bit on the hysterical side is an understatement. She is a woman seduced by drama, as can be the only explanation for her ill-thought affair with the cad Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). But she is also a woman who fervently wants to love and be loved. So when she finally realizes she doesn’t love Daniel but actually loves her snobby childhood neighbor, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), it might just be the dream match. Too bad for her he’s moved to America to be with his perfect supermodel-esque girlfriend.
Luckily for our girl Bridget, Mark changes his mind and greets her outside said tiny flat with a proposal she cannot refuse. But once they step inside and she excuses herself to freshen up, Mark finds her diary and reads the multiple entries written about his deplorable behavior. When she returns to the room, Bridget finds Mark’s gone. What’s a sensible woman to do? Of course run out in the snow with just a robe and knickers to find the man of her dreams (who just stepped out to buy her a new journal so they can begin a new chapter in their lives). Swoon, and scene.
2. Love Actually
Oh, the scene that launched a thousand swoons. Almost nothing can top Mark’s (Andrew Lincoln) big love declaration to Juliet (Keira Knightley) via cue-cards accompanied with caroler music. The final one punctuating his entire message that despite how much he loves her he knows that she cannot be his. To Mark, Juliet is perfect. And to me, so is this scene.
1. Notting Hill
Woo, take a deep breath everyone. This has been a long journey and you have all been such good company. Here is the scene we’ve all been waiting to argue over, the most romantic moment committed to film (according to my complete bias): Anna Scott’s (Julia Roberts) attempt to win William Thacker (Hugh Grant) back. She wants nothing more than his love and for him to love her in return, but acknowledges that he has a right to want nothing to do with her. While she is “just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” he is too scared to admit he’s still loves her. This is the moment other romantic films wish they could have.
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