I don’t know about you, but I love a good summer fling. Summer nights feel like a perfect setting for a love story. Sadly, not every summer, in my experience, is filled with romance; sometimes we need a silver screen substitute. Here’s a countdown of ten of my very favorite on-screen smooches.
- 10 Things I Hate About You: I’ve always loved Cat Steven’s song “Hard-headed Woman.” I guess not being much of a pliant, submissive gal myself, the idea of a man who could appreciate an independent-minded woman who might challenge him on a regular basis is comforting. And if he comes bearing a guitar and has a voice like Heath Ledger, that’s not gonna hurt either.
- Some Kind of Wonderful: Ahh, the 80s and the iconic teen romance! Good times. One of the lesser-known, but one of my favorites, is this one starring Mary Stuart Masterson as a tomboy named Watts in love with her best friend Keith, played by Eric Stoltz. Keith, of course, thinks he’s in love with the someone else and plans an elaborate date for popular Amanda Jones with Watts’s help. He’s not quite sure what hit him, though, when Watts offers to help him determine whether he can deliver “a kiss that kills.” It’s awkward and passionate and manipulative and they both say and do the absolute wrong thing, which is right about how being a teenager feels.
- Pillow Talk: I love a good screwball comedy, and Doris Day and Rock Hudson were really good at it. Hudson’s Brad Allen/Rex Stetson character is a liar, a rake, and a manipulator, but he kisses like the devil, and that can cover a lot of sins in a screwball comedy. Just to be clear, this is only true on the silver screen. Do not get involved with liars, manipulators, rakes or devils, no matter how skilled their smooching.
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Ok. If you’ve read the novella, you know that the film’s ending is a major betrayal of Holly Golightly’s character. But I can forgive that travesty if I forget what story they are supposed to be telling and just enjoy that rainy, romantic ending with “Moon River” swelling in the background.
- Say Anything: I kind of hate teenage romance in the movies. The 80s had a lot of them, but one I definitely didn’t hate was Lloyd Dobler’s dogged pursuit of Diane Court. Poor guy. She rips his heart out, gets his nose broken, and still he forgives her. Usually kissing a dude with a bloody nose would come off kind of gross, but they pull this one off with aplomb.
- The Last of the Mohicans: Nothing like warfare and the imminent threat of death to stoke the passions. Maybe it’s Daniel Day-Lewis in deerskin breeches. Or maybe it’s that soundtrack. That’s one helluva soundtrack. Whatever it is, it IS. You know what I mean?
- Truly, Madly, Deeply: Oh, how I love this movie. Juliette Stevenson and Alan Rickman are divine actors, and they are perfect in this sweet and subtle story of love lost, found, and regained through selfless sacrifice. Nina (Stevenson) is devastated by the loss of her lover Jamie, so she’s overjoyed when he returns. Apparently ghosts suffer terrible cold here in the mortal world. It’s a perfect setup for a makeout sesh, though, when Nina questions why he’s breathing into his hand. She knows just what to do when he answers “warming my lips.”
- Strictly Ballroom: Baz Luhrmann on a budget is the best Baz Luhrmann. I’ve never loved one of his movies quite as much as this ugly duckling tale from his early career. When Scott finally confesses that it’s not pretend, the kiss is simple, sweet, and short, but it’s a good one. You can’t help but cheer when Fran finally gets what she really deserves.
- The Quiet Man: This one was a contender for the number one spot, and really it’s a twofer. The kiss when he first arrives at his cottage is one that a girl would feel to the tips of her fingers and toes, and should be answered with a hard slap across the face, just as Mary Kate Danaher delivers to Sean Thornton. That probably would not go so well in real life, but that doesn’t stop a girl from wishing to be kissed like that at least once in her lifetime. However, that kiss pales in comparison to the graveyard scene. An ancient cemetery, a rainstorm, a beautiful man in a soaked dress shirt and tie. And that fantastic green dress. Perfect setting for a two wounded souls to connect without words. The looks on their faces say everything that needs to be said.
- North and South: Tell the truth–how many times do you rewind it?
And an honorable mention:
Jane Eyre, the 2006 version with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens. I like to call this one “the hot Jane.” Many have criticized the scene where Rochester tries to convince Jane to stay after their unfortunate and unfinished wedding ceremony as being untrue to the book. And yes, Charlotte Bronte would not, could not, have written that scene with such intimacy between hero and heroine. But I’ve never felt that film adaptations needed to be true to a Victorian audience that will never see it. For a modern audience this scene illustrates the undercurrent of passion between them. Neither Jane Eyre nor Rochester, or Charlotte Bronte, in my opinion, were so immune to passion. It’s worth the 4-hour running time.