Many film critics have been bemoaning the following for years now: There just are no good romantic comedies anymore. That statement may be too encompassing; after all, moviegoers were treated to films like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Midnight in Paris” within the last ten years. But by and large Hollywood has been churning out a familiar and tired product for a long time. When was the last time a rom-com that sparked the magic and moments that Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak provided in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s?” Thankfully, cinematic history is overloaded with exceptions to the current rule of romantic films. There are so many great screen couples in the American cinematic canon. Here are five of them.
Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”
Sometimes it’s best to start with the obvious. There’s no denying the palpable and sensational chemistry between the two stars. The last five minutes on the runway alone earns these two a spot on the list. Rick and Ilsa, the lovers torn apart by the impending war, may always have Paris. Thankfully, movie lovers will always have them.
| Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet in “Titanic”
Okay, yes, another obvious one. But the recent 3D release of this box office monster only served to remind why audiences came out in droves and on such a repeated basis back in 1997. Sure, some people wanted to pass off that they love the movie because of the cool special effects during the sinking, but let’s be real: The real reason this movie is so good is because of Jack and Rose. James Cameron’s romantic dialogue can certainly be banal bordering on awful, but his stars are entirely convincing, and their director gives them an ample amount of steamy and swoon-worthy moments.
Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall”
There needs to be a funnier couple on this list, and who better than these two legends? Featured in the greatest romantic comedy ever filmed, Allen and Keaton are at their sparkling and witty best as an on-again, off-again mismatched but loving couple. Even though the two (spoiler alert!) don’t end up together in the end, these two spark a chemistry that embodies Woody’s summation: Relationships are hard and possibly pointless, but oh so worth it.
|Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain”|
2005 was the year after a Presidential election in which the prevention of gay rights was a key issue for the victor. When these two budding stars took on the roles of two ranch hands engaged in a secret, decades long affair, some felt their career may be finished. It turns out these two exceptional actors left audiences in tears. The longing emanating from these two is truly heartbreaking, but the moments they do have together are imbued with passion and tenderness that is exhilarating.
|Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Whichever Movie You Prefer|
What can be said about this dynamic dancing duo that hasn’t been said since they hung up the tap shoes in 1949? The silver screen has simply never known such a charming and affable couple as Fred and Ginger. Over the course of ten films together, these two delighted audiences with witty rapport, dazzling chemistry, and of course, lively musical numbers, some of the greatest ever committed to film.
This list is limited to five, and of course there are other amazing onscreen couples that were left out. But these five represent the cream of the crop of a tradition I will never tire of, no matter how my jock friends feel.