I was visiting recently with Preston and Sarah Cox, owners of The Grand Theatre in Stamford. I confessed my love of classic movies, and we talked over some ideas for showing more classic Hollywood films, in addition to the new, first-run pictures featured at The Grand. In fact, one of the movies I’m about to mention was just shown there, as part of their Valentine special feature.
It comes as no surprise to the regular readers of these musings that I love old movies. When I’m with other fans of classic film, I enjoy the game of naming a movie category, and then engaging in discussion about our five favorites of that type. Best Jimmy Stewart picture. Best courtroom drama. Favorite musical. Who was the better actress – Betty Grable or Rita Hayworth?
Our category for this week is “Chick Flicks,” and I will admit it now: I like a lot of these movies, because they tell an interesting story. I like a good story! On the other hand, I’m not a fan of films that just feature two hours of special effects and blowing stuff up but forget to bring the story. This term “Chick Flick” has been around for a long time but didn’t come into widespread usage until the 1990s. Although the meaning has changed from its origin designation, it now is used to refer to a movie that has one or more strong female leads and is geared primarily towards a female audience. They are often, but not always, romantic comedies – “rom coms.” The term is somewhat pejorative: movies with a strong male lead are just “movies,” but movies with a strong woman are often dismissed as just a “chick flick.” But there have been some really great movies made in this category, and here are five of my favorites, listed in order of their release dates.
Steel Magnolias (1989) – In some ways, this movie was the original Chick Flick, and is still my favorite. The cast is amazing: Sally Field, Olivia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts, and Daryl Hannah star as a group of friends who meet, visit, gossip, and share life at a neighborhood beauty salon. “I’m not crazy, M’Lynn – I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years!”
Pretty Woman (1990) – Another Julia Roberts gem; also starring Richard Gere and directed by Garry Marshall. CAUTION FOR SUBJECT MATTER. This is a retelling of the Pygmalion – My Fair Lady story, showing the power of love to transform someone’s life. Don’t miss Hector Elizondo as the hotel manager.
Titanic (1997) – Stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, with a very strong supporting cast. It was directed by James Cameron, who may have his faults as a director, but he does know how to tell a story visually. A rich heiress meets and falls in love with a kind but poor artist about the doomed ocean liner. Also with a strong musical score, including the main title theme by Celine Dion. STRONG CAUTION.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) – Nia Vardalos and John Corbett lead a great cast. She portrays a young Greek-American woman who falls in love with a non-Greek man, then has to persuade her family to accept him and learn to love him as she has. This is a terrific movie about what family really means, and accepting people as they are – and maybe learn and grow along the way. Opa!
The Notebook (2004) – (This is the movie that appeared at the Grand last weekend.) James Garner shines in one of my all-time favorite films of his. Gena Rowlands, Ryan Gosling, and Rachel McAdams also star. If you enjoy movies that tell their story through extended flashback sequences, you’ll love this picture – it bounces between a modern-day nursing home and a story about two young people set during World War II. SOME CAUTION.
Some others – Sleepless in Seattle, A League of Their Own, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Princess Diaries, Moonstruck, Something’s Gotta Give, and Thelma and Louise. What would be your pics? Drop me a note at email@example.com and let me know what you think. And until then, please save me some popcorn.