Romance has blossomed in a zillion motion pictures since the birth of the movies.
Examples of such films in the recent past range from “La La Land”, “When Harry Met Sally”, “Sleepless In Seattle”,
“Four Weddings & A Funeral” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding” to “Brokeback Mountain”, “Moonstruck”,
“Notting Hill” and even “Crazy Rich Asians”.
Audiences often remember specific segments in certain pictures
as in the case of the restaurant scene in Rob Reiner’s 1989 Columbia comedy “When Harry Met Sally”
when Meg Ryan as Sally Albright fakes an orgasm in front of a totally surprised Harry Burns played by Billy Crystal.
The sequence is flawlessly capped by the reaction of an older woman customer at a nearby table telling a waiter
“I’ll have what she’s having”.
The actress who delivered that line was Estelle Reiner
and that dialog has gone down in movie history as a classic one-liner.
A whole host of other such memorable sayings emerged in movies during Hollywood’s Golden Age,
spelling out a wide range of impassioned moods and emotions. One of the most often-quoted occurred in Howard Hawks’
1944 Warner Bros. drama “To Have And Have Not” when sultry and smoky-voiced Lauren Bacall (as Slim) delivered
the delicious double-entendre question to Humphrey Bogart (as Harry Morgan):
“You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow”.
In retrospect, certain other movies in which Humphrey Bogart appeared contained
an abundance of celebrated dialog including others in which he starred with Ms. Bacall.
In addition of course there was Michael Curtiz’s “Casablanca”.
His co-star in that much-revered 1942 wartime drama was Ingrid Bergman as the beautiful
Ilsa Lund and Mr. Bogart portrayed her old flame and café-owner Rick Blaine.
Their poignant romance afforded Ms. Bergman such pivotal lines as
“Was that cannon fire or is it my heart pounding?”,
“I wish I didn’t love you so much”
and “Kiss me as if it were the last time”
while Mr. Bogart’s character delivered his own share of significant one-liners as typified by
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”.
On occasion, a line of movie dialog was so distinctive that it was used
as the advertising slogan for the film in which it was introduced.
A case in point was “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” which Ali McGraw’s character
Jenny emoted to Ryan O’Neal as Oliver in Arthur Hiller’s 1970 Paramount box-office hit “Love Story”.
That saying was much parodied back then and the line was amusingly repeated two years later by
Barbra Streisand when she starred with the very same Ryan O’Neal in the comedy “What’s Up, Doc?”;
Ryan’s character replied “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard”!
A plentiful supply of satirical and caustic observations emerged on-screen throughout the 30’s and 40’s,
often with romantic overtones. For instance, in Lowell Sherman’s “She Done Him Wrong”
at Paramount in 1933, the wonderfully bawdy Mae West as nightclub singer Lady Lou explained:
“I wasn’t always rich. No, there was a time I didn’t know where my next husband was coming from”.
Mae West’s seemingly endless gallery of tongue-in-cheek sayings was matched
by the words of just one gentleman,the inimitable Groucho Marx.
The butt of a series of Groucho’s wisecracks was often the supremely
dignified Margaret Dumont.
For example, in Sam Wood’s “A Day At The Races” at MGM in ‘37,
Groucho (as Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush) turns to Ms. Dumont (as Mrs. Emily Upjohn) and proposed:
“Marry me and I’ll never look at another horse”!
Four years earlier in Leo McCarey’s comedy “Duck Soup” at Paramount,
Groucho as Rufus T. Firefly had made a similar advance to Ms. Dumont,
this time in her role as the affluent Mrs. Gloria Teasdale.
“Will you marry me?
Did he leave you any money?
Answer the second question first”!
The following is a selection of other romantically-inclined sardonic sayings…
In Tay Garnett’s 1946 MGM version of James M. Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice”,
John Garfield (as Frank Chambers) offers Lana Turner (as the sexy Cora Smith) this sarcastic opinion:
“Stealing a man’s wife, that’s nothing, but stealing a man’s car, that’s larceny!”
Having divorced her first husband, headstrong socialite Tracy Lord portrayed magnificently
by Katharine Hepburn in George Cukor’s “The Philadelphia Story” at MGM in 1946, gleefully summized
“I thought it was for life but the nice judge gave me a full pardon”
In Billy Wilder’s 1960 romantic comedy “The Apartment”, Shirley MacLaine
as sharp-witted elevator girl Fran Kubelik offered this whimsical piece of advice:
“When you’re in love with a married man, you shouldn’t wear mascara”.
As virtuoso pianist Sid Jeffers in Jean Negulesco’s 1946 Warner Bros. drama “Humoresque”,
Oscar Levant delivered a hard-to-forget witticism to Joan Crawford as socialite and benefactor Helen Wright:
“Tell me, Mrs. Wright, does your husband interfere with your marriage?”.
In another Joan Crawford film “Mildred Pierce” at Warners in ‘45,
Eve Arden as the ever unmarried Ida Corwin complains
“When men get around me, they get allergic to wedding rings”!
A decade later in the Allied Artists crime drama “The Big Combo”, Helene Stanton
(as burlesque performer Rita) theorized to Cornel Wilde (as Police Lt. Leonard Diamond):
“Some women don’t care how a man makes his living, only how he makes love”.
Finally, in Leo McCarey’s 1937 Columbia screwball comedy
“The Awful Truth”, Cary Grant (as Jerry Warriner) observed:
“In the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to what he’s been thinking about all winter”.
Yes, romance thrives in all kinds of motion picture screenplays,
even in major horror pictures as in the 1933 original RKO version of “King Kong”
when Robert Armstrong (as film director and showman Carl Denham) delivers the film’s final line:
“It was beauty killed the beast”.
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