The romantic comedy! Has there ever been a better “marriage” of movie genres to chase the blues away? Sure, tragic romances bring the drama, and dark comedies the uncomfortable laughs. But when it comes to a cinematic staple that delivers a battle of wits, sexual tension, and a pinch of suspense (even though in your heart you know everything will work out), there’s nothing like a rom com!
Romantic comedies graced the silver screen even before sound arrived, with Charlie Chaplin combining comic misadventure with lovesickness in City Lights. Once the “talkies” arrived, audiences favored what were known as “screwball” romantic comedies. Leading ladies were free-spirited and a little flaky, tempting straight-laced men into misadventure — or vice versa! From It Happened One Night to Adam’s Rib, these couples met, fought, and conquered one another’s hearts by the final act, often with a madcap caper along the way.
In the 50s and 60s, the romantic comedy turned a little more sophisticated, and sometimes even daring. Decidedly non-wholesome obstacles appeared, like Jack Lemmon falling for his boss’ mistress (Shirley MacLaine) in The Apartment. That same acting pair later starred in an even more risque romantic comedy, Irma La Douce — in which MacLaine plays a literal prostitute.
The 70s saw the romantic comedy stretching the bounds of convention even more. Age differences became jaw-dropping. In Manhattan, middle-aged Woody Allen dates a literal teenager, and Harold and Maude showcased a young man in love with a 79-year-old woman.
By the 80s and 90s, adventure and fantasy made their way into the romantic comedy genre. Romancing the Stone featured Michael Douglas at his swashbuckling best, while Splash found Tom Hanks in love with a mermaid. Overboard, Princess Bride, French Kiss and Coming to America all did their part to add exotic locals and fantastical settings to the usual will-they-or-won’t-they tension.
In the last 25 years, rom coms have literally been all over the map. Audiences can’t get enough of the witty British films made by Richard Curtis and starring Hugh Grant, including Four Weddings and Funeral, Love, Actually, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Notting Hill.
Quirky love stories are another sub-category of the modern era.Stars like Jack Black, Adam Sandler and Amy Schumer are no longer relegated to the “best friend” role. Audiences also demand diversity, with hits such as Think Like a Man, Lovesick, Something’s Gotta Give and Love, Simon showcasing African-American, Muslim, senior citizen and gay characters, among other non-traditional roles.
With a century of this classic movie category to take into account, how well do you know your romantic comedy trivia?