To all those lovely romance tragedies of the past. Where, oh where do I begin? Hollywood, in the Golden Age, presented film after film of star crossed lovers who would never find happiness in each others arms. Were these films made to prepare us for real life? Dare we analyze? Shall we attempt a list fellow Classic Hollywood fans? An Affair to Remember is probably the epitome of the sad love story, but what other films resonate with that broken heart feel? Sabrina screams of unrequited love to point of suicide, a rash move indeed for the fresh faced Audrey Hepburn. Then of course there is Camille, Sunset Boulevard, Splendor in the Grass.
And yet I think my favorite one of all is Tennessee Williams, ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’. It is of course no secret that Paul Newman is my favorite crush, but put him in a room with violet eyed Elizabeth Taylor, and the veteran Burl Ives, and i’m hopelessly in love. What I love most about ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ is its reality. It is a strange fact for me to admit, given that apart from Cat, I don’t actually own these other tear jerkers, because they are sad. I usually like films deeply rooted in the fantasy; happy endings, perfect marriages, and dreams coming true are more my style. I’d rather not know that unrequited love can drive you to the nearest garage for a little carbon monoxide poisoning. I’d rather not have my heroine become a cripple on her way to meet me on the top of the Empire State Building. And I don’t like it when the good guy dies, or beauty fades and I definitely don’t want to dwell on it for the length of a film.
I am however absolutley addicted to problem solving, especially when it involves the dissolving marriage of Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. Something I think we can all understand. Laced with hope and possibility it’s easy to watch our hero dealing with the loss of his exciting football filled past, and the loss of his best friend, with whom he may have had more than appropriate feelings. It’s easy to watch his frustrated wife day after day deal with the fact that she is not the answer to his problems. It’s very real isn’t it, and all that I love about these tragic romances. Because even as the film ends, you are left the slightest, smallest speck of hope our movie couple can make it. That through all the fog of regret, unanswered prayers, and failed family relationships, everything could still be okay.
Just the way Classic Hollywood intends it to be.
Happy Valentines Day:)