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Why is it the only romance movies I like are the ones with the most preposterous plots?


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The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) prompted me to think about this.

I don't generally like romance movies.  I find them more formulaic even than horror movies.  There are some I like.  But look at 'em:

Random Harvest (1942).  One Way Passage (1932).  Love Affair (1932).  Hide-Out (1934).

In the first, an amnesiac war residue is rescued by a showgirl from vagueness, who he marries, and on a business trip gets knocked out of amnesia, and forgetting his amnesiac life, and wife, assumes his original position as a patrician captain of industry and then member of Parliament, and who's personal secretary is--his wife!--who he marries! and then--

Well, you get the picture

Despite the nice direction by Mervyn LeRoy, and just as nice pictures by Joseph Ruttenberg, it is altogether the most shamefully (or shamelessly) manipulative glop of sentimentalism ever put on screen.  But I like it.  Why?  Two reasons:  Greer Garson and Ronald Colman.  The personification of class.  The archetypal actors who could make reading a phone book interesting.  It's their interplay that makes the movie.  It's not what happens, or what they say, but how they play their roles.  So you really feel Paula's agony desperately in love with a man she is continually around, and eventually married to, who has no idea their shared past.  Instead of, that is, throwing things at the screen in furious outrage.  And it's why you choke up at the end when they're back together and she gets to call him Smithy again.

You could say the same about the other movies.  The plots are just as absurd, but you don't care, watching the couple do their love dance.

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