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Out of the Past Come Movies to Cuddle By; 'Casablanca,' 'GWTW' Lead Love Parade

February 12, 1988|DENNIS HUNT | Times Staff Writer

They don't make romantic movies like they used to.

Couples are reminded of this every Valentine's Day, when they try to rent a movie to cuddle by. To get a good romantic movie, you really have to fall back on the classics, most of them pre-'50s.

Among the great romantic dramas available on cassette:

CBS-Fox's "Casablanca" (1942), with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, is everybody's favorite doomed-lovers movie. Not far behind are MGM/UA's "Gone With the Wind" (1939) and Nelson Entertainment's "Wuthering Heights" (1939)--in which the love between Cathy (Merle Oberon) and Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) is so strong that it stretches beyond the grave.

The anguish of the married lovers (Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson) who have a short, sweet affair in "Brief Encounter" may move you to tears. Unfortunately, this 1946 English movie--on LCA Video--is hard to find.

The two great post-'50s, doomed-lover romantic movies are HBO's "Elvira Madigan" (1967) and Paramount's "The Way We Were" (1973)--possibly the definitive opposites-attract love story, with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford.

Other classic romantic dramas include Key Video's "Now Voyager" (1942), with Paul Henried sweeping Bette Davis off her feet and CBS-Fox's "Sayonara" (1957), with Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki featured in a doomed-lovers suplot.

Other fine, rapturously romantic movies include Disney's animated "Sleeping Beauty"--about the handsome prince and the sleeping maiden--Paramount's "Roman Holiday" (1953), starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, and CBS-Fox's "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," a 1955 tear-jerker featuring William Holden and Jennifer Jones.

Among notable old romantic dramas released on video in recent months:

Republic's 'Marjorie Morningstar" (1958) is about an aspiring young actress (Natalie Wood) and her roller-coaster affair with a struggling, middle-aged, theatrical composer/performer (Gene Kelly).

MGM/UA's "Camille" (1936), one of the great romantic movies of the '30s, is about love's sacrifices. As the tragic heroine, Greta Garbo suffers magnificently for her beau (Robert Taylor).

In Paramount's "The Red Shoes" (1948), a tormented ballerina (Moira Shearer) is torn between love and art.

Don't bother looking for one of the best '50s romantic dramas, 1954's "Three Coins in the Fountain." It's not yet available on cassette.

The most romantic of the recent home-video releases is the No. 1 rental, the lightweight "Dirty Dancing," about a summer romance between a teen-ager (Jennifer Grey) and a dance instructor (Patrick Swayze).

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