Favorite Romantic Movies to Watch With Your Valentine

I’m not a big romance movie fan, but I do have a few favorites. “Favorite” is a word I do not use lightly because it means I enjoy the film well enough to watch it more than once.

I’m not putting these in any particular order, because I’m like a kid in a candy store. I can’t choose. I can’t choose.

However, since I do have to start somewhere, I will begin with “Return to Me” (2000) with David Duchovny and Minnie Driver, including a host of beloved actors like Carroll O’Conner (his last film before his death), Robert Loggia, Bonnie Hunt (who also wrote and directed the film), James Belushi, and David Alan Grier, among others.

“Return to Me” is a warm, homey, often humorous movie that begins with a great love and a great tragedy that comes full circle — but with a kick that I still feel deep down every time I hear the song “Return to Me” by the incomparable Dean Martin, still one of my all time favorite singers.

“Return to Me” harks back to a kinder, gentler era of families and friends and a neighborhood, or rather one old-fashioned restaurant that gives you a feeling of a small, intimate village– something architect Bob Rueland (Duchovny) is sorely missing. The restaurant, O’Reilly’s, is owned and run by one extended family, connected by one shy, unworldly young woman, Grace Briggs (Minnie Driver).

Part of the joy and impact of “Return to Me” had much to do with the fact that I knew nothing whatsoever about it when I watched it the first time, and that’s what I’d like for my readers. So, there’s not much more I can say without giving away all the good stuff. It’s the bang between the eyes in the midst of such sweet interludes that gets you. So stay away from Wikipedia and movie reviews and just watch it cold turkey. You’ll love it. If you don’t, you’re a cold-hearted snake, like Paula Abdul sings about.

I’ll have to reach back in time for the next one. I’ll never forget exactly where I was and who I was with when I saw “Somewhere in Time” (1980), starring the late Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. It was a girls’s day out with my best friend Norma Jean and her mother and a couple of their relatives. When it was over, nobody moved. In later years I was watching Johnnie Carson when he mentioned that “Somewhere in Time” was one of his favorite movies.

It is 1972. Richard Collier (Reeve), a young college playwright celebrating the debut of his first play, is accosted by an elderly woman. All the young voices surrounding him are silenced in shock, wondering where the woman came from. As he looks at the little white-haired lady in surprise, she takes his hand and places in it a vintage pocket watch. Looking into his eyes, she says with all the emotion she can muster, “Come back to me”.

Eight years later, Richard has the life he has always dreamed of. He is a famous playwright, wealthy, popular. But nothing is right. Because something is missing. He can’t get past it. It costs him his relationship with a young woman. He has writer’s block. He can’t go on without stepping back and reassessing, to look for that missing piece of his life. He packs a bag and leaves.

On impulse, he stops at the renowned and exclusive Grand Hotel which had been in operation since the early 1900s. As Collier restlessly prowls the hotel’s museum, he is drawn to a portrait on the wall of a beautiful lady, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), a famed actress who had stayed at the hotel in 1911. The portrait haunts his every moment and movement, until he asks the caretaker if there are any old sign-in registers dating back to the time of Miss McKenna. When he finds the book, his finger moves slowly down the page — where he finds his own name written in his own hand.

This beautiful romantic fantasy, where love spans time and space, moves to the sweetly haunting music composed by John Barry. The 18th variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff‘sRhapsody on a Theme of Paganini also runs throughout the film. (Wikipedia). The story, the characters, the music, come together in an unforgettable vision of a love so great, that not even death can stand in its way. A movie for Valentine’s Day? Ohhh, yes.

I had more movies to do, but I’m running out of time, so will try to get to them tomorrow. Enjoy.

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