Did you know that there’s a whole holiday dedicated to lovers? No, not Valentine’s Day. April 23 is Lover’s Day, another time to celebrate LOV-AHS—both the real and the fictional. Actually, it’s a perfect time to honor those underrated lovers from film history.
I love romance movies. I grew up watching them, everything from the big popcorn flicks to the smaller, less-well known ones. I love them even though they’re full of cliches and ultra-attractive people that you can’t always relate to. But I’ve noticed that the same ones seem to get all the love: The Way We Were, When Harry Met Sally, and Casablanca. And while those are all excellent, there are also a lot of overlooked gems in the category that deserve a little affection, too. So in honor of the lovers everywhere, here are some of my favorite lesser-known romantic movies that you should watch ASAP.
It’s not perfect, but Secret Admirer is pretty great. (In fact, just as good as any of the 1980s John Hughes films, IMHO). It stars Lori Loughlin as a girl in love with her best friend, Michael (haven’t we all been there?). She writes him a letter but doesn’t sign it. One thing leads to another, and the note gets passed around and misconstrued. Kelly Preston is also amazing as Loughlin’s best frenemy, Debbie. Sure, the plot is a little bit predictable, but it’s a really fun movie. Bonus: It has some ridiculously 80s lines.
So Long at the Fair
This is more Hitchcock-ian thriller than romantic comedy, per se, but parts of it are really romantic. Here’s the concept. A girl travels with her brother to Paris during the late 1800s. They go to a hotel and take rooms right next to each other. The next morning, her brother is gone, the door to his room is gone, and everyone in the hotel claims she came to Paris alone. Conspiracy! Of course, she meets a guy and he helps her in her quest to figure out what the heck is going on. It’s amazing. And come on, Jean Simmons (not to be confused with Kiss’s lead singer)….who doesn’t want to be her?
The Red Shoes
I first came across The Red Shoes when I saw the documentary A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies. Scorsese talks about all the movies that inspired him before he started making movies, and The Red Shoes was one of them, so I knew I had to check it out. Based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Red Shoes follows a ballet dancer who wants to dance more than anything else. She meets a composer and she falls in love, and it’s really beautiful. I should tell you that there is a tragic component to the plot ( it definitely inspired Aronofsky’s 2010 ballet film, Black Swan). The whole film will also make you want to buy point shoes like, yesterday. It gives us uncoordinated girls some wish fulfillment, which is always a good thing.
The Story of Adele H
portion (okay, maybe most) of the film that’s in French, but don’t let that discourage you: It’s totally worth the subtitles. Directed by the renowned French filmmaker Francois Truffaut, it’s based on the true story of Adele Hugo, the daughter of Les Miserables author Victor Hugo. Adele is in love with an officer, and adores him so much that she gives up her life in France and follows him to Canada. Most of the time, you just want to tell her, “Adele, he’s just not that into you.” But, alas, it’s hard to give advice to movie characters.
A Place in the Sun
This movie is one of my all time favorite movies, and not just because the always fabulous Elizabeth Taylor stars in it. Like Adele H, it’s based on a true story. Old school movie hunk Montgomery Clift plays a character named George Eastman, who moves to a new town and starts working at his uncle’s factory. George is poor, his uncle’s rich. Enter Alice Tripp (played by the amazing Shelley Winters), another factory worker. They begin to date and things are going great until George meets Angela Vickers (Elizabeth Taylor) and he forgets all about Alice. He’s stuck between staying with Alice or going with Angela, and..not to spoil it but things get complicated. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wish you could go back in time and steal all of Elizabeth Taylor’s outfits. I sure did.