Valentine’s Day Movies II

“There are as many forms of love as there are moments in time” – Jane Austen.

Cuddle up with your buddy, significant other, husband, wife or ZOOM

The Enchanted Cottage (1945) based on a play by Arthur Wing Pinero. Upper class Air Force pilot Oliver Bradford returns from the war horribly disfigured only to face a socialite finance who can’t cope. Depressed and bitter, he withdraws to a seaside, New England cottage where he’s befriended by blind concert pianist, John Hillgrove who lives nearby.

Plain, old maid Laura Pennington, hired to manage the cottage, gradually gets through to Oliver. They fall in love and marry feeling jointly handicapped, but discover a transformation has occurred. Just lovely. (Not saccharine) Dorothy McGuire, Robert Young, Herbert Marshall, Mildred Natwick. Note – the film by this name listed on Prime is a remake, not the original.

Know Where I’m Going (1945) A pragmatic, independent, middle class Englishwoman travels to the Hebrides to marry a wealthy, much older industrialist. Successive days of terrible weather keep Joan away from the fictitious island on which her fiancé lives. Exploring, she encounters Torquil MacNeil, a local Naval officer whose leave was to be spent there.

Despite the heroine’s stubborn assumption that she knows what she wants, they connect. Still, she tries to get away, unwittingly putting herself in great danger. A gentle, adult love story with a super ending.Wendy Hiller (the original film Eliza Doolittle) and Roger Livesey.  

Stairway to Heaven/A Matter of Life and Death 1946 Directed by Michael Powell, Emerich Pressburger. When the plane of WWII Squadron Leader Peter Carter (David Niven) is badly hit, he orders the crew to bail out aware of his own faulty parachute. Just before jumping to certain death, he deeply connects with June (Kim Hunter) an American radio operator in London. Conductor 71 (Marius Goring) sent to escort Peter to Heaven, can’t find his quarry in the fog. The flyer survives and meets June cycling back from her night shift in tears. They fall in love.

Conductor 71 stops time to explain the situation to Peter who’s not about to go quietly. He’s granted an appeal with three days to prepare and must choose his lawyer from the dead. June’s sympathetic friend Doctor Reeves (Roger Livesey) diagnoses Peter’s visions as a brain issue and sets up an operation. He then dies in an accident. While on the operating table, the pilot chooses Reeves as his lawyer. We see moving stairs through the clouds and an endless amphitheatre representing celestial court. Only when June takes the stand (she’s asleep on earth) do things shift the couple’s way.

Good arguments.Visually imaginative. Extremely romantic. In 1945, the production used 29 sets, and cost an estimated £320,000, equivalent to £13,910,000 in 2019. Rent on Criterion.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir 1947 Based on the novel by Josephine Leslie under the pseudonym R.A. Dick. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Utterly charming. Young widow Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney), daughter Anna, and housekeeper Martha (Edna Best) move into a seaside cottage haunted by a ghost. The rakish spirit of Sea Captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison) appears to Lucy. It was his plan to turn Gull Cottage into a home for retired seamen and he doesn’t appreciate her presence. The headstrong woman won’t leave. Daniel can’t help but be intrigued and only shows himself to her.

When the widow runs out of money, Daniel suggests he dictate his memoirs to her. A life of great manly adventure, it’s related in salty language. (Harrison excels in the telling.) He and Lucy fall in love. Blood and Swash becomes a bestseller. One day in London, Lucy meets children’s book author Miles Farley (George Saunders) who courts her. To give her a chance at real life, Daniel plants in Lucy the idea that he’s just her imagination. Miles has a fatal flaw and Lucy becomes a recluse until…Wonderfully romantic. Rent on Amazon Prime.

Sabrina 1954 Based on Samuel L. Taylor’s play Sabrina Fair. Directed by Billy Wilder. Simply lovely. Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) is the daughter of widower chauffeur, Thomas Fairchild (John Williams). She grows up over a garage at the posh Long Island estate of the Larrabee family besotted with younger son, playboy David (William Holden). When Sabrina attempts suicide for unrequited love, Thomas sends her to Paris to attend Le Cordon Bleu cooking school hoping to provide a profession. She returns stylish and confident, immediately catching David’s eye.

David, however, is engaged to the daughter of a Larrabee business associate primed to merge with them. Conservative, type-A, older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) cleverly incapacitates his sibling, temporarily filling in with Sabrina in hopes of stalling and ultimately preventing romance he equates with business disaster. Awkward love unexpectedly finds them both.

During production, Hepburn and Holden had a brief, passionate, much-publicized love affair. Cary Grant had turned down the role of Linus. Humphrey Bogart felt miscast but ultimately made his character more credible. This film marked the beginning of Hepburn’s lifelong relationship with Hubert de Givenchy. Rent on Amazon Prime. (Skip the remake)

Love in the Afternoon 1957 Based on the Claude Anet novel “Ariane, jeune fille russe” (Ariane, Young Russian Girl). Directed by Billy Wilder. Completely enchanting. Widowed private detective Claude Chavasse (Maurice Chevalier) specializes in tracking unfaithful husbands and wives. His daughter Ariane (Audrey Hepburn) is more than a little conversant with papa’s files.

The infamous subject of his latest client’s complaint, American Frank Flanagan (Gary Cooper), seems particularly exciting. When Ariane overhears the client threaten to shoot his wife and Flanagan, she rushes out of cello rehearsal and warns him just in time.

Ariane then becomes a woman of mystery to the playboy businessman many years her senior. She makes up provocative stories of endless lovers. He’s increasingly, maddeningly attracted to her, and knows better, but…With a pitch-perfect John McGiver as a suspicious, cuckolded husband. Both Yul Brynner and Cary Grant were first offered the role of Flanagan. Wilder chose Cooper because he thought the actor would be good company on location. He was. Rent on Amazon Prime.

Something’s Gotta Give 2003 Written and directed by Nancy Myers. Successful music executive and womanizer, Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson), is dating much younger, Marin Klein (Amanda Peet). One weekend, she takes him to her family’s (gorgeous) Hamptons house expecting her playwright mother, Erica Barry (Diane Keaton), to be absent. Instead, the couple finds Erica and her sister, Zoe (Frances McDormand). Her mother is surprised, but liberal. The visitors stay.

During foreplay, Harry has a heart attack. At a local hospital, he’s attended by attractive young doctor, Julian Mercer (Keanu Reeves), who, in the reverse of Marin and Harry, has an eye for Erica. In order to keep him local while he recovers, Harry is released to Erica’s home. The two come awkwardly together. Meanwhile, Julian starts to court Erica. The doctor is sincere, Harry bound to old habits, until… Oh, and Erica writes a play about it all. What follows is warm and droll. Fine script, good acting. Pretty to look at. Rent on Amazon Prime.

Brief Encounter 1945 Based on Noel Coward’s one act play Still Life. Directed by David Lean. One of the all time greats. Deft and wrenching. Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson), a conventional, suburban housewife, goes to a nearby town every Thursday for shopping and a matinée. At the station one day, Alec Harvey (Leslie Howard) removes a piece of grit from her eye. They accidentally meet outside a chemist and agree to go to the movies together beginning what seems like innocent companionship and turns into the recognition of soulmates. Conservatism wins. Get out your handkerchief. Alas, only on The Criterion Collection

Top photo: Bigstock

About Alix Cohen (1007 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of nine New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.