Sophia Loren certainly says a lot when it comes to matters of love and marriage, and all the other wonders that accompany such pursuits. In “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” she plays the wife who is always finding ways to keep a precarious marriage going by selling black-market cigarettes on the street and remaining pregnant to avoid jail. Audiences around the world love the stories behind the relationships and marriages that make up communities everywhere. If relationships are the building blocks of communities, movies about relationships are a study in architecture – both great and foolish.
O. Henry’s famous story about the husband and wife who both give up their most prized possessions in order to please the other brought the humble couple trying to make the most of their relationship to the masses.
Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” shows marriages in all states of development – Ms. Torso who shuns many suitors while awaiting her height-challenged serviceman, the newlyweds who spend most of their time with the shades drawn, the thirty-somethings who sleep on the fire escape together to escape the heat, and of course the Torvalds, who seem to Jeff (Jimmy Stewart) to have had the ultimate breakup. Even Lisa (Grace Kelly) and Jeff share a window into their relationship with the audience throughout the film as they contemplate taking the plunge into marriage.
In “The War of the Roses” we see a bitter divorce turn into a grudge match of epic proportions. A pair feuding partners tries to bully their stubborn spouse out of the house in order to gain the upper hand in the eyes of the court. In the end, everyone loses, especially the house.
1988’s “Beetlejuice” even features a couple who make the most of their after-life together as they haunt the home they inhabited in their former life as people who were alive. Tim Burton renders Alec Baldwin and Andy McDowell as a pair too in love to let go.
In “Death Becomes Her,” Bruce Willis plays a plastic surgeon who uses his skill to keep his wife, Goldie Hawn, looking good even after “death.” A potion, it seems, to keep her young forever actually has some fatal side-effects, but the benefits include never aging.
Perhaps O. Henry’s ironic tale takes its most twisted iteration in “Indecent Proposal.” Audiences found themselves rooting for the young lovers who are presented with an obscenely lucrative offer in exchange for their fidelity. Even the audience loses in this one.
The tale of the couple trying to make it in the world with only their love to guide them and the story of the pair that has had simply too much shine a light into the bedrooms and living rooms that make up our communities. Audiences will continue loving these stories yesterday, today and tomorrow.
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