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  • Writer's pictureJim Rex

The Most Romantical Love Stories Ever Told! By Jim Rex

"Ain't love grand?" - Roddy Piper as John Nada in John Carpenter's They Live (1988)

Today is the most romantical day of the year, right? Love Day 2023. I don't have a valentine's this year and that's okay, because the next best thing to being in love is watching movies about people in love.

When I asked my bosses if I could write this blog it got real silent on the phone. I thought I lost them, but then I heard Paul, and then Rob, clear their throat. Paul did this thing where he didn't really say a word, but made a long sound like, "Ahhuuummmm." Rob followed it with, "Well, Jim Rex..." and then fell silent.

I knew they were putty in my hands!

Yes, I watch romantical love movies too! Man cannot live on slasher and werewolf movies alone. I mean, who doesn't enjoy an engaging love story about a couple meeting, falling in love, falling out of love and then realizing they're better in love, all in ninety minutes or less? Everybody likes a movie like that once in a while.

My bosses asked me what love movies I would write about. I immediately went into my pitch with Corman's nurse series, starting with The Student Nurses (1970).

"I don't think so, Jim Rex," Paul said before I could even get to Private Duty Nurses (1971).

"What else you got," Rob asked.

I said, "How about The Student Teachers from 1973?"

"Nope," Paul said.

Rob quickly followed with, "Same movie, different occupation."

"How about something more traditional," Paul suggested.

"Like a date night movie," Rob added.

"I got it," I said, but I didn't elaborate. I told them I'd cook up something special for Love Day and then I hit the flicks in search of a fistful that would really celebrate the meaning of traditional Love Day romance.

In no particular order, except alphabetically, here are my top five most romantical love stories ever told, perfect for however you celebrate your Love Day with yourself or a significant other.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

I admit it, from the blu-ray cover it doesn't look like a lovefest, but trust me, this is one of the most romantical movies I have ever seen. You can tell by the picture that Vince Vaugh has love on his mind.

So, Vince is a meathead named Bradley who goes from boxer to auto mechanic to drug mule, all in the name of saving his marriage to Jennifer Carpenter.

When he goes to prison, he learns that his wife, now pregnant, is in danger. They might not stand living together but he still loves her and wants to keep her safe.

When warden Don Johnson discovers Vince was a boxer, and sees his handiwork, he makes a deal for him to box for him. Vince doesn't cotton to doing the warden's bidding and soon he's fighting his way to Cell Block 99 where all the lunatics are kept.

Every last little act of gratuitous violence Vince perpetrates in this movie is for love. And it's a kind of love I can't imagine. If I was in love with a sweetie for Love Day, I don't see me getting thrown in jail and then picking fights with the ugliest, craziest dudes in the joint to protect that love. Nope. I'm crying in the corner hoping my mom checks her answering machine soon.

This is probably the best role Vince has ever had. (Love will make you do your best.) He's a man of few words. He's more liable to stuff your face down your throat than make chit-chat.

You see the power of his love every time he rips the life out of someone. There's an early scene where his love gets the better of him and he tears a car to pieces with his bare hands.

This is basically a sports movie with romance, like Rocky (1976).

This is one of those "modern grindhouse movies" from S. Craig Zahler and while I enjoyed the hell out of his little love-fest-o-rama, I think the 132 minute running time would have kept it out of most grindhouses back in the day. (A tight, 84 minute version of this film would probably be more love than most people could handle.)

Breaking Away (1979)

This is another "sports romance." We trade the prison cell block boxing ring for the Bloomington, Indiana collegiate bike race phenomena known as the Little 500. (It is exactly like the Indy 500 but on bicycles, so it's completely different.)

Dennis Christopher proves he is one of the best actors of his generation with the one-two punch of this film followed by Fade to Black (1980).

Here, he plays a "townie" in a college town who took the summer off to decide what he wants to do with his life. He's a bicycle racing fanatic and is obsessed with the Italian bike team. He hangs out with his three friends from school, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern and Jackie Earle Haley. They all kick around, not knowing what they want to do with their lives.

When Christopher falls in love with Playboy Playmate Robyn Douglass, he pretends to be Italian to make himself more interesting. It works, but he continues to incur the wrath of campus frat boys who don't like the "cutters" of the town. (So named for the generation before them who "cut" all the stone used to make the buildings in the town.)

Christopher convinces his friends to enter the Little 500 to prove they are just as good as anyone else.

This is one of those movies that stops being a movie about a quarter in and I'm young again with my whole life in front of me and I haven't made nearly as many dumb mistakes yet as I have. It celebrates youth without making you feel old, which is quite a trick. The guys will probably remind you of the guys you went to school with. You may remember some long ago fixation or passion from your younger years. There is something very special about this movie that cannot be denied.

Of course, new people find it creepy in today's "no-fun, you-offend me" world. By "new people," I mean people "new to the earth." People aged 0 to 20s. I've talked about this movie, described it, just for some young person to tell me how creepy it all sounds. "He's not Italian. Why would he pretend to be something he's not?" I scratch my head and answer, "Because who wants to be themselves when you can be Italian?"

New people don't get it. They think phonebooks are creepy. (How in the hell is one to know the address of some girl they like in school so they can ride their bike in front of her house twelve or thirteen times a day without a phonebook? Jeez.)

I know new people are one hundred percent themselves, especially on their Unsocial Medias, but for anyone else looking for a sweet dysfunctional romance, you can't go wrong with Breaking Away.

Frankenhooker (1990)

After I turned this blog in, I had to fight to include this one. My bosses said Frankenhooker is basically a remake of The Brain that Wouldn't Die. They were worried that people would just read it and think they were trying to sell more copies of their book The Brain That Wouldn't Die 60th Anniversary Novelization. That could not be farther from the truth. I've got no skin in the game, plus I'm sure everyone reading this has already picked up a copy, so why try selling you something you already have? It doesn't make sense. (But, if you haven't got a copy yet, you can get it at the best price here.)

Anyhoo, Frankenhooker is a love story that knows no bounds. It concerns a young scientist who accidentally chops his beloved fiancée up with a remote controlled lawn mower. He keeps some of her parts alive in a special liquid, so he makes a super crack that results in exploding hookers and all the body parts he could ever possibly need.

Like Vince Vaughn in the first Love Movie on my list, everything the scientific kid does here is in the name of love.

James Lorinz plays the motormouthed Jeffrey Franken and Penthouse Pet Patty Mullen plays his beloved. It was written by Robert "Uncle Bob" Martin. (Those who grew up reading early 80's Fangoria know who Uncle Bob is.) It was directed by madman Frank Henenlotter. Frank is a The Brain that Wouldn't Die super-fan, and he includes a feministic ending Brain could never have gotten away with for its time. (He also includes the floating cyclops brain in the jar that was on the Brain poster that they forgot to put in the movie.)

Although it has a lot to do with hookers and crack and body parts and a pimp named Zorro, it's actually lighthearted and women seem to dig it, probably for the film's final revelation. It's a perfect Love Day flick.

Harold and Maude (1971)

I don't think they have ever made a better movie that proves age is just a number than this sweet, suicidal love story featuring Ruth Gordan and Bud Cort.

Gordan is a senior who enjoys going to other people's funerals. Cort is a bored rich kid obsessed with death who also enjoys going to funerals.

They "meet cute" at a stranger's funeral.

"Quirky" is the word used most times to described this May-December romanical Love Day flick.

It is tough not to be won over almost immediately by these two wonderful lunatics. It is such an odd pairing but they are perfect together. If MTV had been around in 1971, there's no way they would not have gone home without the coveted "Best on Screen Couple" trophy.

No matter how crazy either of them become, you still understand where they are coming from. They're like real people, but quirky.

Cat Stevens does the soundtrack. This is one Love Day picture that can put a smile on anyone's face.

Some claim Ruth Gordon was never hotter than she was here.

I consider Paul Thomas Anderson's overlong and boring Licorice Pizza (2021) a lame attempt at remaking Harold and Maude. It's a shame he couldn't have committed to the material and cast Betty White in her last role opposite Cooper Hoffman instead of Alana Haim.

Overboard (1987)

Star crossed lovers Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn hate each other.

She's a spoiled trophy wife. He's a rube repairman. She stiffs him on his fee. He is less than gutter trash to her.

Later, when she falls overboard her douchebag husband's yacht, and he decides not to look for her, Russell sees her on TV. She's a found missing person with amnesia. Kurt, a widower, needs child care. He needs a maid. He needs a cook. Since she stiffed him on his fee, he can't actually afford all those things, so he figures he'll kidnap her, convince her she's his wife Annie, and let her work off the fee until he can get his miniature putt-putt course off the ground.

Love blossoms sooner than later, and Kurt starts having feelings for Goldie. Goldie starts having feelings for Kurt. Because of these feelings, the legal ramifications of everything Kurt and his partner in crime Billy have perpetrated throughout this film are A-okay.

You can tell this is a Rom-Com made for men, because everything the man does in this movie is greasy and illegal.

Director Garry Marshall, three short years later, would hit Rom-Com gold when he portrayed the savage world of street walking as a fairy tale romance that young women would aspire to for decades to come.

Happy Love Day, ya'll.

Follow Jim Rex in the pages of It Came From Hollywood! Book 3 features Jim's look at the werewolf movies of 1981! Available from these fine retailers: Abebooks Barnes & Nobel Books-A-Million Half Price Books Target Walmart Amazon and anywhere books are sold.

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