Movies That ‘Got’ to Me … or Still Do

Movies That ‘Got’ to Me … or Still Do

By Jeff Salter 

            For this week’s topic, we had three related categories of ‘favorite’:  love story, mushy movie, and first date film.  Since I couldn’t pick from among them, I’ll cop-out and combine all three into a category I call:  Movies That ‘Got’ to Me.  AKA:  Tearjerkers.

            Some films which ‘got’ to me were love stories with sad endings and hauntingly beautiful theme music.  I’ve often wondered if the same movie withOUT such perfectly evocative compositions would have affected me as deeply.

            Warning [spoiler alert] if you haven’t seen these films, it may be TMI.

            Romeo and Juliet (1968)

            Zeffirelli’s version of Shakespeare’s tragedy was masterfully produced.  But on one level, this story is laughable:  I wanted to slap Romeo silly and lecture him like a Dutch (uh, Verona) Uncle.  “Dude, stay away from the Capulets … period.  There’s a sweet girl right here among the Montagues … and she’s got a terrific personality.”  Romeo’s not a total schmuck:  he can handle a sword and actually kills Tybalt (a Capulet, of course) in a senseless duel.  But he’s smitten … so he’s got no sense at all.  You know he’s doomed when he first sees Juliet at the masked ball.  You fear for his life when he sneaks into the Capulet courtyard.  It’s incredibly ‘romantic’ when they secretly wed and bed, but you know there will be hell to pay.  Later, you can’t believe the Friar concocts such a bizarre plot but fails to notify the key player.  [The hapless clergyman tries to make amends, but too little too late.]  You want to spill the poison before it reaches Romeo’s lips and you wish you could knock the dagger from Juliet’s hands.  Nope.  They BOTH die.  Bring up Nino Rota’s music … bring out hankie. 

            Love Story (1970)

            This is a far more contemporary tragedy and was additionally powerful because I truly did not see that end coming.  Well, it’s been four decades since I saw it — perhaps I’d heard that Ali MacGraw’s character died, but maybe I didn’t really believe it.  [No longer remember.  Doesn’t matter.]  My wife – at that point, my date – had already read Erich Segal’s novelization and knew the girl died … but Denise bawled anyway.  I don’t know if Love Story would still ‘get’ to me … but it certainly did then.  Francis Lai’s theme could melt a statue.  [Re-reading the synopsis, I see that Ryan O’Neal was told by the doctor NOT to tell his young wife she was dying.  Folks, that’s just wrong!]  Many critics hated this film and its odd catch-phrase, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  Dr. Phil would likely debunk that kooky premise.

             Doctor Zhivago (1965)

            Ah, the lovely Lara.  After they’ve platonically worked together tending WW1 battle injuries, they have a forbidden affair.  Neither can help themselves.  She was his muse — Lara set him free to live, to love, and to write.  But he’s married, with kid(s) — the essence of an ill-fated love story.  The lovers go their separate ways as the Communists solidify their power after the Revolution.  Later, they get back together … then part again.  Years pass.  Could the good doctor REALLY die of a heart attack when he finally spots Lara again after so long?  Yep.  Dead as a frozen doornail.  Then Maurice Jarre’s luxurious music comes up and there’s not a dry eye in the house.  In my teens I had a poster of Zhivago and fancied I was – or should be – that beloved (fictional) Russian poet.  As if.

             There are many other films with gorgeous music and romances which ended badly/sadly.  I’m a movie buff. 

            Exactly ‘how’ or ‘why’ did these movies get to me?  Not sure … but they’re brought out the proverbial lumps in my throat and even produced tears.  I think the heartrending music was a big part of it. 

            I have a lot more to say about “Movies I Call Romantic” but I’ll save the rest for mid-May when we tackle aspects of plot, characters, and dialog in romantic films.

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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26 Responses to Movies That ‘Got’ to Me … or Still Do

  1. tonya kappes says:

    I totally LOVE~Love Story!! I recently saw an interview with them on Oprah. Ali is still so lovely. BUT Dr. Zhivago is one of my all time favorites! When I was in elementary school, my father was transfered to Boca Florida for three months. There was NO way we were moving from our home in central KY so we let him go and we visited once a month. He spent most of his nights in the hotel bar where this guy played the piano. My dad and I always watched old romantic movies and westerns. Dr. Zhivago was one and my dad loves Laura’s theme~Somewhere My Love. The guy at the piano bar played it every night for my dad. I play the piano and my dad sent me the sheet music from Florida, so when I went down for my monthly visit I could play Laura’s theme for him at the piano bar. Thanks for reminding me of my cool memory with my dad!!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Tonya, you surely do rise EARLY in the morning! Thanks for relating that warm memory. I don’t know if I could select the single most lovely theme music of all time, but the Lara theme would have to be in the top ten at the very least.
      My dad also loved that melody. At a wedding (I think) we attended in Iowa, he asked the musician (accordian) to play it. The guy knew the main melody, but couldn’t remember the little intro. So he asked my Dad to hum it. He did … and then the guy played it perfectly.
      I was in love with Julie Christie after this movie. In fact, I liked all the actors/actresses except Geraldine Chaplin. Omar Shariff stole the show, though: his eyes could speak volumns.

      Like

  2. Kwana says:

    You’re making me want to have a classic movie marathon tearjerker weekend. Great picks!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Kwana. My problem with this column was that I had to leave out so many terrific films. Another in this vein (of one of the romantic partners dying) is “Always”. But I’ll try to cover that one in mid-May.
      BTW, I doubt I could handle an entire weekend of tearjerkers. I’d need to brace each one with a few comedies and action films, I think. LOL

      Like

  3. danicaavet says:

    Um, I haven’t seen any of these movies. Wait, that isn’t entirely true. I think I watched Romeo & Juliet in high school but because I hated that particular play, I didn’t pay attention to it. Sad, isn’t it? I thought they were crazy for doing what they did. *mutters about melodramatic teenagers* The others I haven’t seen and if they brought a lump to your throat, I’m glad I didn’t. I hate having to pretend that I’m not bawling my eyes out because of a movie! LOL

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    • jeff7salter says:

      LOL, Danica. Seeing a H.S. rendition of R&J is not quite the same experience!
      I had to read that play in H.S. and later read it in college (along with a lot of Shakespeare). It doesn’t ‘read’ nearly as well as it ‘plays’ (though Zeffirelli abridged it significantly, of course).
      What made this film stand out was the costuming, the blocking, the scenery & sets. And, of course, that young gorgeous Juliet.
      Somewhat surprised you haven’t seen Zhivago. It’s got a lot of history and action and intrigue … plus plenty of snow (to kill all the skeeters).

      Like

  4. Laurie Ryan says:

    I know this is supposed to be all about the love stories, but your movie mentions have me feeling SO nostalgic. Being a teenager at the time, I had the poster of Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting almost kissing up on my wall for eons. And Love Story – I cried and cried during that movie. Another real tear jerker was a movie called Sunshine, with Cliff De Young and Cristina Raines. (yes, I was a closet hippie at the time).
    Hmmm, apparently, I love the sad movies. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Laurie, I had that same poster of R & J ! I believe it was at the costume ball or banquet or whatever (when they first met). Yeah, I was a romantic dawg … back in the day.
      Don’t recall ‘Sunshine’ but I never liked Cliff DeYoung for some reason. Don’t recall Christine Raines.
      Thanks for visiting today.

      Like

  5. The classic love story that gets me every time is The Way We Were. And each time I watch it (as often as I can), I hope, pray and cross my fingers that Katie and Hubbell will end up together. But my prayers are oddly never answered. But you are probably right that it might not have been as effective if it had been written with the token happy ending. But I’d save a ton of money on tissues!

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    • jeff7salter says:

      Meredith, you might not believe this, but (despite being a big movie buff), I’ve never seen that film. I’ve heard the theme song, of course … and I like Streisand (as singer, actress & comediene).
      That’s the one with Redford, right? I like a lot of his films.
      Maybe I should put it on my Netflix queue.
      Thanks for stopping in.
      I’m here most Thursdays.

      Like

  6. Wow! Nostalgic emotional overload– but in a good way! Movies that reverberate for ages and ages with me (and my gots lots of age to choose from!) are the ones where the characters touch me deeply in some way. Either sympathizing with their plight, or hoping I would be able aspire to their self-sacrifice in the same situation, or just sheer frustration over their idiocy that has me yelling at the screen “This is your only chance at real happiness! Why are you blowing it?”. The ones you mentioned are superb examples.

    (Oh. And it all honesty, when the hormones are out of whack, some of us women secretly identify with the retribution, or honor avenged type of love-story movies. The more violent and bloody the better. )

    Loved this post, Jeff. Restores my faith in a strong yet sensitive manhood!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Runere. Yeah, in some movies I’ve wanted to slug somebody and bring them to their senses. Most often, that’s a scene where one of the lovers is (falsely) accused of something which completely blows it with the other one. Yet, instead of even trying to explain … they just sit/stand there and let the other person stomp away from their life. I’m thinking: “Dude, just TELL her you didn’t do it!” [or whatever the conflict is.]
      Some of the movie characters — and I see them in novels also, of course — seem to be masochists and would rather suffer the loss of the lover than to spend FIVE MINUTES setting the record straight.
      Uh … it’s called drama. I know.
      Thanks for visiting.
      I’m here on most Thursdays.

      Like

  7. Oh! And I feel like I’m admitting to a dark, dirty secret, but I attended every Shakespeare festival in Stratford, Ontario when I lived in Michigan. Kind of an ancient times Spring Break, with costumed students wandering around with wineskins and partaking of an assortment of Shakespeare plays being performed simultaneously over three full days. Great sets (like living in a village!) and enthusiastic actors. And yes, it was mostly for the Romance atmosphere! lol

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      I’ve never been to a ‘festival’ but I’ve read prob. 10-12 of Shakespeare’s plays.
      I’m a huge fan of the Bard.
      Another one I really like is “Taming of the Shrew” which was also produced by Zeffirelli … with Liz Taylor and R. Burton. VERY good version and ‘plays’ much bawdier than it ‘reads’.

      Like

  8. Oh, man- I adore Omar Sharif- and yes, his eyes are amazing!! I own this movie on VHS and DVD. Heck, if it was an 8 track tape, I’d own it. LOL! Love, love that movie- Being a huge history buff, I got a major high from the history in it as well as the landscapes and the buildings. An all around perfect choice, Jeff.

    Love Shakespeare, too. Not so much a fan of Love Story. I Hated the end and the tag line- bleh- it WAS well acted, just not my thing!

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    • jeff7salter says:

      Writing about Zhivago has made me want to see it again. Not sure if I own it … but I still have so much stuff in storage (incl. precious books and VHS tapes) that I don’t know if I have it or not.
      Yeah, I can’t believe the studio actually capitalized on that tag line. Any good editor would have made Erich S. cut that line. I loved the end of “What’s Up Doc?” when Ryan O’neal tells Barbra Streisand (who just spoke the line and fluttered her eyelashes), “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

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  9. jbrayweber says:

    Love movies!! Especially adventuresome, epics, historicals, comedies, action, Disney, etc.
    Though I write romance, I tend to stay away from chick flicks, dramas, and generally anything that’s going to be sad. I want to be entertained, not cry like a blubbering idiot. (A good commercial can make me cry).

    That said, there is one movie that I tried to resist seeing. Titanic. I mean, why would I want to? I know it can’t end well. People are going to die, and likely it will be the Rose, Dawson, or both. Nope. Didn’t want to see it. Did anyway. Cried, cried, cried. That movie messed me up like no other. What a tragic romance. To this day, I cannot watch it again.
    Excuse me while I go get a hankie. 😉

    Jenn!

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks for posting, Jenn.
      Yeah, normally I shy away from the tear-jerkers too. But these three stood out. I had started to list Titanic in this column, but the space limitation kept it out (along with others).
      I actually wanted to see that film because I’d seen 2 or 3 other Titanic movies and have always been fascinated by that tragic voyage. [I’ve read a lot about it also.] And, of course, I wanted to see what modern spec. effects would do with the disaster portions. This DiCaprio version had a LOT more focus on romance than any of the other versions I’d seen. I still like the Clifton Webb rendition from the 50s.
      The girl in the newer version was VERY lovely.

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  10. jeff7salter says:

    Right you are, Jillian! She left poor Leonardo DiC freezing his b***s off — quite literally — even though she appeared to have plenty of room.
    Of course, it’s possible it would have tipped over if Leo… hadn’t been keeping it steady.
    BTW, I can’t believe he lasted 10 mins. in that water. When I was in the arctic, I heard a briefing about how long a body can survive in water which is actually colder than 32 degrees but still somehow liquid. Believe me, it ain’t very long.

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  11. Daisy Harris says:

    Ah, the ill-fated love stories. I think guys tend to gravitate towards them more than women. Whoever said, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” was a dude- for sure!

    Great post, Jeff!

    Daisy

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Daisy.
      Though I can’t say I actually gravitate toward them.
      I think I saw Zhivago with my family and the other two were date movies. For dates, I sometimes suspended my film preferences and went with whatever I figured my date would like. Heh heh.

      Like

  12. Pingback: Romance in the Arts | fourfoxesonehound

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