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A guide to tear-jerkers, or just jerks

ON THE SHELF

March 13, 2005|Susan King

To Kim Adelman, author of "The Ultimate Guide to Chick Flicks," the most satisfying movie moments happen "when girls with great hair triumph over adversity and hunky bad boys get domesticated." (And if those aren't every viewer's idea of great cinema, well, that's why there's "Rocky.")

Adelman begins by setting out the 10 elements of chick flick, from sympathetic heroine and love-worthy hero through dancing, obstacles and the ultimate happy ending. Then it's on to a fizzy pink field trip through the boy-meets-girl genre.

The paperback, published this month by Broadway Books, is divided into such chapters as "Improving Perfection," "Comfort Flicks" -- favorites to view while eating ice cream from the carton -- and "Hidden Treasures."

The latter category includes such obscurities as 1973's "Ash Wednesday," in which Liz Taylor gets a face-lift after a 30-year wrinkle-inducing marriage to Henry Fonda; 1991's "Zandalee," an erotic tale from Zalman King of "Wild Orchid" fame starring Nicolas Cage with a mustache and mullet; and, also from 1991, the poignant "Dogfight," with River Phoenix as a Marine about to ship off to Vietnam who spends his last night on leave romancing a plain, folk-singing waitress (Lili Taylor).

The "chick flick," she declares unapologetically, is more than just entertainment -- it's inspiration. "After all," as she puts it, "we don't just watch chick flicks, we live them."

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