Valentine's Day is a day for lovers. Many get into the spirit with a romantic movie, but few of those films will survive the passage of time. Those that have are classics that movie viewers return to time after time.
"Here's looking at you kid," is the classic line delivered by Humphrey Bogart in the 1942 romantic drama “Casablanca,” in which the desperate love of Ilsa Bund and Rick Blaine is sacrificed in the war against the Nazis. Despite their tragic love, the passion between Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman, and Bogart's Rick keeps burning.
The 1939 epic “Gone with the Wind” has been hailed by critics as the essence of romance. Sparks fly as the love-hate relationship between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara unfolds against the backdrop of the American Civil War. Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh portray the two iconic characters doomed by pride and jealousy. They utter two of the most famous lines in movie history.
When Scarlett O'Hara asks the hero, "Rhett, Rhett, where should I go, what shall I do?" He responds, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."
And there is a lot to remember in the 1957 film, “An Affair to Remember.” Other legendary romances carry the same theme: strong passions draw a couple together but life gets in the way and keeps them apart. Socialite and aspiring painter Nickie Ferrante, played by Cary Grant, discovers that his love, Terry McKay, played by Deborah Kerr, was struck by a car and is paralyzed.
Some of the films have an even darker ending. In “Love Story,” the 1970 tear jerker, the couple is shattered as Jennifer loses her battle to cancer. Her husband, Oliver, is devastated - as are millions of viewers the world over.
James Cameron's "Titanic" is more recent but still uses the classic formula: love unites, life separates but love endures. The love story of Jack Dawson and his upper crust lover, Rose, is as short as the ocean liner’s ill-fated trip. Jack dies but Rose survives, as does her love for him.
The film won 11 Academy Awards and broke the box office record of all time, at least until "Avatar." It also made Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet superstars. But "Titanic" aside, young people today seem to prefer more realistic on-screen romances.
"I think the younger generation is a little bit more cynical and I think there’s a little less loyalty in general," says one young movie goer.
Regardless of age, few can resist true love when they find it, even if it's just for a couple of hours inside a dark theater.