Drama is imperative when it comes to movie making, for certain situations of course. While we all love a good comedy or silly movie that doesn’t require us to do too much thinking, there are times when a good cry from a sad story, or a happy one, is just what the doctor ordered.
Today, we would like to highlight some of our most favorite love stories in film that fall under the genre of drama.
Gone with the Wind
This movie, which arguably has one of the most famous love triangles of all time, is well known mostly for Clark Gable’s final line of “frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Based on the best-selling Margaret Mitchell novel this love story stands out in this epic film about the Civil War and how the southern states were affected by the outcome. It successfully depicts the glory of the south before the war, during the war, and post war all in one character, Scarlett O’Hara.
Scarlett is a debutant who lives on her father’s cotton plantation Tara. She is the belle of every ball and the movie even begins with two brothers, twins, visiting her and competing with each other for her affection. Of course, Scarlett only wants what she can’t have and is visibly upset when they tell her that Ashely Wilkes, her neighbor, will marry his cousin Miss Melanie, shortly. Scarlett is in love with Ashely and she wants him for herself.
The movie takes us through a long trek of Scarlett trying to win Ashley’s affections even though he is married to her best friend. While throwing herself at Ashley, Scarlett manages to marry Charles Hamilton, her sister’s boyfriend Frank Kennedy, and the scandalous Rhett Butler. Of course, she loves Rhett and doesn’t even know it until he leaves her.
Yet, you may be thinking that the love story in this film is primarily around Rhett and Scarlett, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is the love between Ashely and Mellie, the love between Ashely and Scarlett, but most of all there is the love between Scarlett and her plantation Tara.
Her father instilled into her as a young girl that land is the only thing that matters because it’s the only thing that lasts. She dismisses his talk in the beginning but her love for her land takes over and Scarlett stops at nothing, not even stealing her own sister’s boyfriend, to keep that land in her family.
Scarlett insists that one day she will get Rhett back, and we leave the movie wondering whether or not this will happen, but our experiences with Scarlett have us believing that she will indeed succeed, just as she always has. But we know it because she decides at that point to leave Atlanta and return to Tara where she always finds a way to get what she wants.
So, in our opinion, while Scarlett and Rhett’s romance seems to be the center love story of Gone with the Wind, it is her love of Tara that is the most beautiful love story in this classic film.
A Star is Born
We aren’t referring to the 1954 film with Judy Garland, but the 1976 version starring Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Streisand plays Esther Hoffman, a singer who is just getting started out in show business while Kristofferson plays John Norman, a rock star. They meet by accident of several occasions but, when she doesn’t fall over herself because of his fame he becomes obsessed with her and romantically woos her until they fall in love.
Of course, he loves her vocals and gives her a big push by helping her record and convincing her to sing in front of his crowds even though she is seriously frightened. Meanwhile, John, or Johnny as Esther calls him, is sabotaging his own career by drinking too much, showing up late for everything, and doing too many drugs. He is the quintessential rock and roll bad boy and he is only calm and collected for one person, Ester Hoffman.
Before long Esther’s career really takes off and she is busy with recordings and tours. Still, she loves Johnny with all her heart and even though he is an alcoholic drug abuser who cheats on her she stays by his side. Esther stays by his side but his self-destructive ways get the best of him in the end.
When asked about John’s death in the movie, writer and director Frank Pierson has been quoted as saying, “it is not that her success galls him, or that she wins over him; the tragedy is that all her love is not enough to keep alive a man who has lost what he measure his manhood with; his career.” It is believed that through his own reckless behavior John Norman kills himself so that he doesn’t drag Esther down into he much with him.
Other male actors thought to take the lead before Kristofferson where Neil Diamond and Elvis Presley. Diamond had too many tour dates to make such a commitment and Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker had too many demands. Parker didn’t want Elvis to play a musician whose career was declining. He also wanted a great deal more than the producers, who included Streisand, were ready to play so that idea was dropped. The part finally went to Kris Kristofferson and we are glad it did. He is unforgettable in the role.
West Side Story
This dramatic story is a regular on our list but mostly for lists that focus on Broadway productions. For today, we will focus on the film version of this musical. West Side Story was released as a film in 1961 and starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris.
The plot surrounds two gangs in New York. Maria, who is Puerto Rican fall in love with Tony, who is associated with the opposing gang. They fall in love, it is forbidden, and violence and death ensues as a result of their teenage passion. It is based on Romeo and Juliet, by Shakespeare and the story has been told a million times. Still, this film is arguably the most well-known version of this timeless tale.
When it was first decided to turn this successful Broadway musical into a movie they took into consideration that a movie is much different than a play. A play or stage musical is seen from a distance where, with film, there are close ups so the producers wanted to hire actors that could be plausible playing teenagers. That eliminated members of the original cast like Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence.
Once again, Elvis was considered for a part, that of Tony, but again, his manager Colonel Tom Parker thought the role was wrong for Elvis and forced him to decline. It’s funny when you think of how he might have been in that role instead of Richard Beymer, who is the Tony we all know and love. It is said that later Elvis regretted turning it down.
Other actors who took a shot at playing Tony in this 1961 classic were Warren Beatty, Tab Hunter, Anthony Perkins, Russ Tamblyn, Burt Reynolds, Troy Donahue, Bobby Darrin, Richard Chamberlain, Dennis Hopper, and Gary Lockwood. Beatty was one of the “final five” and inadvertently gave Natalie Wood the opportunity to win the role of Maria.
At the time the duo, Beatty and Wood, was filming another tragic love tale titled Splendor in the Grass and dating off camera. When Beatty did his screen test for West Side Story he asked Wood to read opposite him because they had been rehearsing together. After viewing the tapes, the producers fell in love with Natalie Wood and didn’t consider anyone else for the role of Maria. Ironically Beatty didn’t get the part.
Most importantly, West Side Story is iconic and historical. The United States Library of Congress acknowledged this film as “culturally significant” and was put into the National Film Registry in 1997. IT is the only musical to win ten Academy Awards including Best Picture.
Harold and Maude
This classic film released in 1971 covers more than just the dramatic genre. It is a dark comedy and a romance. It is the story of Harold, who is nineteen, and his first love Maude, who is just about to turn eighty. They meet while attending funerals of people they do not know and become fast friends and eventually lovers.
Harold is the son of a wealthy heiress and she is insistent that he get his life in order. Rightfully so since he continually fakes his own suicides, to the point of grotesque blood scenes and explosions, to get a rise out of his mother. She sets him up on several blind computer-generated dates to find him the perfect match.
Meanwhile, Harold and Maude around running around the area relocating dying trees and getting chased by the police. When Harold succeeds in scaring off the third date his mother has set up for him she decides that he can now be the problem of his uncle, who is an officer in the United States Army.
Harold tells Maude that he is being shipped off to Vietnam and they devise a plan to thwart his family’s attempts to make him join the military. Once they do, it is set that Harold is just mentally ill and he is free to do as he wishes. He plans an elaborate party for two at Maude’s place because she is just about to turn eighty-years-old.
Little does Harold know that Maude has her own plan on how she would like to celebrate the eightieth year of her life beginning, and that would be with her own suicide to end it. Harold is faced with the very fear that he had been subjecting his mother too for years but this time it’s no joke. This time, the suicide is real and Harold is left to decide whether or not he can love again.
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