I've often described myself as a hopeless romantic, or as Yves Montand perfectly said, "I'm incurably romantic." One of the greatest joys in life to me is seeing the glamorous leading lady and her handsome leading man coming together, a union that is (almost) always gloriously sealed with a kiss. Luckily, Second Sight Cinema is celebrating all kinds of cinematic kisses with the "You Must Remember This... A Kiss is Just a Kiss" Blogathon. Valentine's Day weekend wouldn't be complete without checking out the great roster here.
Paris When it Sizzles is a movie that loves to be meta about its art form, and as a result, it has a lot of interesting quotes that reflect on the craziness of Hollywood. My favorite of these lines is easily when William Holden's cynical screenwriter leans into Audrey Hepburn's cheerful secretary and tells her that his screenplay must employ a liplock, where "the two enormous and highly paid heads come together in that ultimate and inevitable moment, the final, Earth-moving, studio rent-paying, theater-filling, popcorn-selling kiss." Indeed, kisses in the movies are highly anticipated affairs, a culmination of chemistry and romance that have proven to be irresistible time and time again. This kind of pressure makes them awfully tricky, though. The slightest thing during a kiss can potentially ruin the whole moment for you, which can sometimes spoil you a bit on the couple as a whole. I can't remember what film I was watching, but when the kiss happened, some strands of the woman's hair got in on the smooch and when they pulled away, I could see the hair still attached to the guy's lips -- it quickly grossed me out.
One cinematic kiss that has a lot to live up to comes from that Christmastime favorite It's a Wonderful Life. It's a movie that I can't help but relegate to the month of December, yet when I heard about this blogathon, I knew I had to discuss Life because it has a kissing scene that gives me all the emotional cliches: my heart swells, I grin, sometimes I get teary-eyed, and my toes curl in absolute glee. You may know what moment I'm talking about, but if you don't, you're in for a treat.
spend a fun, sweet evening together, singing "Buffalo Gal (Won't You Come Out Tonight)" and Jimmy Stewart delivering this beautiful piece of dialogue:
"What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey, that's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary..."
Frank Capra made such a magnificent picture, and nowhere is that more apparent than this scene. He gets the audience so involved in Mary and George's relationship, and then he puts the camera right up close to them, making us feel like we're right there. There's no score, no swelling of the music when the couple finally collapse in each other's arms -- all we have are the sounds of the actors, including the far-away voice of Sam. I love this touch. Cutting between Mary's house and Sam in New York would have diffused all tension, not to mention breaking the electric connection between Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. The muted intonation of Sam going "Will you tell that guy I'm giving him the chance of a lifetime? The chance of a lifetime!" sounds like the disembodied voice of the universe, proclaiming that George and Mary are inevitable and they should stop trying to fight it.
Interestingly, Stewart had Capra delay this scene for as long as he could. Life was his first film coming back from service in WWII, and filming such an intimate, romantic scene made the actor uncomfortable, especially after his absence from the screen. "A fella gets rusty," he said, but obviously the scene had to be done. To be sure Stewart couldn't shy away from Reed, Capra re-staged it so they had to share the phone and it was actually done in one take. The director was happy with the result, but one person wasn't: the script girl. Apparently Stewart and Reed had left out a whole page of dialogue, but Capra wasn't concerned, saying "With technique like that, who needs dialogue?" Agreed. You can see the scene for yourself by clicking here. Enjoy, and happy Valentine's Day!