Or So it Seems … An Old Romantic

“Give me a kiss to build a dream on
And my imagination will thrive upon that kiss
Sweetheart, I ask no more than this
A kiss to build a dream on”

Louis Armstrong, A Kiss To Build A Dream On

I’m cruising the video-store in pursuit of a chick-flick, one of those mushy movies that melts your heart and leaves you humming the theme song. People say I’m an old romantic because I LOVE these feel-good films.

So I scurry up the isles searching… seeking… but striking out.

There’s zillions of zombies titles here, volume after volume of vampire video, and tons of “Twilight,” a sanguinary story of tormented teens.

Not the sort of necking I had in mind….

So I slide past.

Now I’m in the land of slasher/strangler cinema. Yuck. These guys are getting their hands on gals, but don’t look here for a happy ending.

Where are the old romantic comedies? I wonder.

Defeated, I give up and find the clerk, an energetic 20-something woman.

“Do you have Sleepless In Seattle?” I ask.

“Is it a new release?” she said.

“Are you serious?”

She was.

I sigh.

“No. It’s an old Nora Ephron movie.”

“Ephron?” her fingers hover over the keyboard. “Who’s he?”

I laugh at her joke.

Except she wasn’t kidding.

I chew on my lip.

Sleepless,” I begin,is a romantic comedy, you know, like Moonstruck.”

Moonstruck?” She nods, “Oh yeah, that asteroid movie.”

I grab the counter to keep from falling over.

“You’ve never seen MOONSTRUCK?”

“Uh, uh.”

I’m speechless. This is a MOVIE RENTAL STORE, I think. Surely they hire people who know SOME famous titles.

So I compose myself and try again.

Moonstruck is a GREAT movie,” I say. “A classic. It was Nicholas Cage’s breakout role.”

She nods, smiles, and I feel encouraged.

“Cage. He’s that old guy from Hell in Drive Angry.”

Now it’s my turn to wear a blank look.

“Missed that one,” I shake my head.

“We have it.”

“No thanks. I’m looking for what used to be called `first-date’ movies.”

“Like what?” she asks.

I clap my hands together and sidle up to the counter.

“Well now,” I smile. “I’m glad you asked.”

So for the next several minutes I host an improvised a game-show called: Where’s That Romantic Moldy-Oldie?

And how did my clerk-contestant and her video boutique fare?

Let’s just say they’re going home with the consolation toaster-oven.

Oh she tried, typing title after title into her state-of-the-art terminal. But to no avail. Finally, the buzzer sounded, and out of the ten-million of movies I mentioned, she found ONE on the shelf.

It’s not her fault the store’s selection is crummy, but it still bugged me. As she rang up the rental, I couldn’t help myself. I kept peppering her with bonus-round queries.

“So….. You’ve never rented Roxanne?”

She shook her head.

“Or watched Romancing the Stone?”

She shrugged.

“Or seen When Harry Met Sally.”

She stopped briefly and scrunched up her face.

“Yeah, I think. The one with the orgasm in a restaurant?”

“A fake orgasm,” I corrected her. “And they all had their clothes on.”

“Oh, really?” She seemed disappointed. But at least she was on the scoreboard now.

I paid my tab, but lingered, feeling vaguely irritated. Finally, I steeled myself and confronted her with my winner-take-all penultimate question.

“These are all GREAT MOVIES. So… why don’t you carry them?”

Her smile waivered.

“Oh well… Maybe we did, you know, back in the day.”

“And?” I asked.

“When stuff just sits on the shelf, we dump it.”

Dumped your romantic comedies?” I shook my head. “Now that’s ironic… and sad.”

She looked at me warily. Just then another customer sauntered in.

“Dude. Got the Adam Sandler movie?” he asked.

“Over here,” the clerk fled, guiding the guy away from the counter. She shot me a backward glance. “You could try Hulu,” she said, and then vanished.

I looked about the store, and it suddenly struck me that this place was not much bigger than a Dutch Brothers drive-through.

No room for romance, I guess. No money in it anymore.

This vexes me. I hate to think that so many sweet and silly movies, ones I grew up with, have been given up for dead and placed on life support over at Netflix. Alas… no boy-finds-film “meet-cute,” a chance video-encounter that seems random but which was fated to happen because it had been waiting on the shelf, all those years, just for him.

Or…. meeting that someone special as you both reach for your favorite movie at the same moment.


An entire generation is growing up without cornball comedies.

I find myself in the roles of grizzled, genre film-lover here. So, before these movies vanish from our collective memory, I’ll offer up my top-10 favorites– a Valentine’s Day gift to you.

Watch them all—they deserve your time, attention, and affection.

So microwave some popcorn, fire up the TV, and put your arm around your squeeze.

You’ll be glad you did.

Are they silly? You bet. You’ll roll your eyes, but at least you won’t have to cover them and hope the kids are out of earshot.

Sweet and Funny 

  1. The Apartment
  2. Moonstruck
  3. When Harry Met Sally
  4. Fools Rush In
  5. Sleepless in Seattle
  6. Roxanne
  7. Romancing the Stone
  8. Splash
  9. You’ve Got Mail
  10. What’s Up Doc

And if we’re talking best mood-music soundtracks, then it’s a four-way tie. I can’t decide whether it should be Sleepless for a smooch-fest of 12 torch-tunes, The Apartment for most alluring instrumentals, Moonstruck for bringing back Peggy Lee and Dino, or Fools Rush In for its many Elvis-moments.

I guess I’ll have to watch them all again to decide.

But if you don’t like to mix love and laughter, then here’s my five break-out-the-hankies pure-pathos choices:

Straight-up Tear-Jerking Romance

  1. Ghost
  2. Somewhere in Time
  3. A Walk in the Clouds
  4. An Officer and a Gentleman
  5. Love Story

And can add to these lists with your own favorites…. Let me know what I’ve missed.

Yep. The old romantic in me has to admit it—video stores are vanishing and the remaining few are closet-sized cubbyholes carrying mostly new releases.

So I guess I’ll have to dig a bit to find old feel-good flicks. But just like romance itself, there’s joy in the pursuit, the anticipation, and, the consummation of…. finding my favorite films.

But the best thing about these old romantic movies is that they’ll keep you and yours cozy for weeks of winter nights yet to come.

And what could be better than that?

“It’s still the same old story.
A fight for love and glory.
A case of do-or-die
The world will always welcome lovers.
As time goes by.”

Jimmy Durante, As Time Goes By

Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe – “Or So it Seems™” – Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County. He can be reach at robb@robblightfoot.com.

Robb Lightfoot is a humorist, author and educator. He and his wife raised a family of four kids, a dozen or more dogs and a zillion cats. He has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to teaching at Shasta Community College, and his former column on A News Cafe - "Or So it Seems™" - Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the "Funny Times". His short stories have won honorable mention in national competitions. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-10 finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives and writes in Chico where he manages ThinkingFunny.com. He also hates referring to himself in the third person, and will stop doing so immediately. I can be reached in the following ways: Robb@thinkingfunny.com PO Box 5286 Chico, CA 95928 @_thinking_funny on Twitter
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7 Responses

  1. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    I'll go back even farther: Casablanca; An Affair to Remember. Slightly newer ones: Dirty Dancing; Strictly Ballroom. And a recent one: Knight and Day.

  2. OK, now I don't feel so bad about being old-fashioned…..And being disgusted when stores reject the good stuff for new stuff. Thank you for this article! Our family loves While you Were Sleeping in the romantic comedy aisle and A Walk to Remember or The Notebook when you want to use Kleenex. We also like Jane Austen movies except for the Pride & Prejudice with Kiera Knightly (the characters are wrong and they've chopped too much out of the story).

  3. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    Agreed about THAT Pride and Prejudice, but Oh My! the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle mini-series is a winner.

  4. ajac37 ajac37 says:

    I did comment here the other day . . . . but it disappeared. I commented something about my list being a pean to my quirky sense of romance. My list would include Harold and Maud and (all time favorite) Murphy's Romance. But then, YOUTH/VIDEO STORES . . . . what do they know anyway!!??

    • Avatar EasternCounty says:

      The same thing happened to a couple of my comments. A screen came up once I hit Submit that had that anonymous image and said I needed to update my profile. It kept going in circles; so I shut 'er down. Apparently my romance songs offended. But, yeah, Murphy's Romance is an all-time favorite.

  5. Oh, rats! Let me see what's going on. I'll check with our tech guys. So sorry!

  6. Shakespeare in Love, Parent Trap, Titanic (before it hits the iceberg), just to name a few.