Movie Valentines for Guys to Give to their Better Halves
by Phil Boatwright

Right off, let me state, fellas, your lady should feel you’ve used a few more of the little gray cells than usual when looking for ways to acknowledge Valentine’s Day. Here’s a suggestion. Rather than celebrating one day, let the romantic festivities run throughout the weekend. Now, now, bear with me. It is for your ultimate well-being that I present such a concept.

Friday evening, begin with an enjoyable movie and some comfort food (don’t send out for pizza – make something – call your mom). Saturday morning (and this is for you married guys), go brew the coffee, then return to offer a massage (oils, candles – couldn’t hurt). Once she is properly pampered, leave her just long enough to get the coffee. (You can see why this is for the married folks, only. Most likely you’ll never get around to that coffee.) That night, dinner out. Make it some offbeat place, like a fondue restaurant or some place she’s mentioned in the past. Just nothing with a sports theme. Notice, I haven’t mentioned flowers. That’s the surprise for Sunday morning, the completion of your Valentine package. Have them delivered.

I know what you’re thinking; all this is costly. Let me submit that, in fact, this is all very practical. Consider it an investment. Hey, she let you get the dish and the 400 sports channels. It’s payback time.

As for the Friday night movie, the main thing is that you ask her, “Sweetheart, what would you like to watch?” If she says, “A Three Stooges marathon, darling,” well, then you’ve found the finest woman who ever lived. If, however, she’s the second finest woman who ever lived, let her make a choice. When she says, “I don’t know,” and she probably will, give her a few choices. Copy and show her the following list early in the week. Then make sure your DVD rental outlet has it. If not, buy it at Barnes and Noble. But get it! Remember, it’s the little extra effort that tells her so much.

So, what do you get in return? Six months of uninterrupted or un-resented Sunday TV sports. Good luck, gentlemen.

An Affair To Remember (1957). Okay, let’s get this one out of the way. Corniest movie ever made, but women eat it up with a spoon. Playboy Cary Grant falls for socialite Deborah Kerr on a cruise. They plan to meet at the Empire State building in six months, but fate steps in. Warning, men. Few of us can compete with Cary Grant. If, however, you can tie a tie and master a vocal impression of Mr. Grant, the world is yours.

Riverdance (1996). A stunning musical production, performed by the original cast, live from Dublin, Ireland. An uplifting, nourishing celebration of Irish culture through music and dance. There are some wonderful salutes to Spain, Russia and even Harlem, but mostly it is an exhilarating phenomenon that focuses on the musical heritage of the Emerald Isle. Led by two exceptional American dancers, Michael Flatley and Jean Butler, the 80-plus ensemble is astounding. The lighting, staging and other production values add to the dreamy, romantic, yet fast-paced mood, making it a unique evening of musical theatre.

Enchanted April (1992). Joan Plowright, Polly Walker. A delightful fable about four women in the 1920s escaping their repressed lifestyles in London by renting a castle in Portofino. They soon discover the estate has a magical effect on all those who stay there. Witty dialogue, dreamy cinematography, and savory performances. At last, a PG film with no sexual activity, profane language, violence or religion bashing. A romantic comedy that nourishes the spirit. Guys, you’ll score points with this one!

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947). A gothic romance without promiscuity. A widow moves into a seaside cottage haunted by a ghost who takes a shine to the new occupant. Rex Harrison, Gene Tierney, and Natalie Wood around the age of six. Great music score.

Sense & Sensibility (1995). Emma Thompson. Set in prim and proper 18th-century England, the beautifully photographed and splendidly acted melodrama is full of humor, wit, and passion. PG (no profanity, no sexual situations, no violence - just great storytelling).

I.Q. (1994). Uncle Albert Einstein has fun putting aside his physics to play Cupid for his pedantic niece and the local good guy/car mechanic. Romantic, literate and downright funny. Walter Matthau, Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins. PG (one scene features sexual innuendo, but I caught no sexual situations, violence, or obscene language).

Sabrina (1995). Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear. PG (I found nothing objectionable). A fairy tale about two rich brothers falling in love with the chauffeur's daughter. Sophisticated, bright, and always entertaining, director Sydney Pollack tells an old-fashioned story in an old-fashioned way - with wit rather than profanity, romance rather than sexual situations, and charm rather than special effects.

Emma (1996). Gwyneth Paltrow. Miramax. Period romance. PG(I found nothing objectionable - no off-color language, no sexual situations, no violence). A self-assured young woman turns matchmaker for her little English village. Although a most likable Cupid, she is often off the mark. The teen comedy Clueless was inspired from this Jane Austen novel. Not quite in the league with Sense and Sensibility, but all of a sudden, about halfway through, I was hooked. Beautiful to look at, amusing to listen to, and oh, yeah, nothing explodes!

Pride & Prejudice (2005). Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Matthew Macfadyen. The classic tale of love and misunderstanding unfolds in class-conscious England near the close of the 18th century. The five Bennet sisters with the aid of their worrisome mother are seeking husbands and securing the family’s future. Fueled by detailed direction, pumped by satisfying performances, energized by fluid and sultry cinematography, and textured by Jane Austen’s ability to infuse humor into what would merely be melodrama in the hands of other authors, this newest adaptation is elegant, gentile and lovely.

Beauty and the Beast (1946 French version with Jean Cocteau). In order to save her father, a beautiful girl agrees to live with a feared wolf-like beast. But after time passes, they learn to love one another. This moody, atmospheric B&W rendition of the classic tale is a masterpiece. In French, with subtitles, it is both beguiling and fanciful. But, hey, if your lady likes foreign movies, this is the one, guys.