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Wanted: Romantic Comedy 

Some rental suggestions for times of theatrical scarcity

Roman Holiday

Sabrina

When it comes to romance this Valentine's Day, stick with the time tested and true. Try red roses, sweet nothings, champagne and videotapes. Eschew the grumpy and slick contemporary romantic comedies and head straight for Audrey Hepburn, in Roman Holiday (1953) and Sabrina (1954).

In the tradition of all the best American romances, both movies are as much about class as sex. In Roman Holiday, Hepburn plays a dignified European princess who escapes the confines of her station and heads out on the town of Rome for a single day of plebian delights, accompanied by a ne'er-do-well reporter (Gregory Peck). He knows she's a princess; she doesn't know he's a reporter.

In Sabrina, the ne'er-do-well son of a wealthy Long Island family (William Holden) falls for the daughter of his family's chauffeur (Hepburn) who is just back from two years in Paris, while his serious older brother (Humphrey Bogart) tries to derail the romance by making Sabrina fall in love with him.

Whether you choose the Cinderella story or the reverse Cinderella story, you are in for a treat -- not a whiff of cynicism anywhere, lovely, slow pacing, gorgeous city views, wonderful costumes and a full dose of one of the most gorgeous comic actresses that has ever graced the silver screen.

-- Andrea Lucard

Gregory's Girl

The Tall Guy

Funny that two films produced in the highly class-conscious United Kingdom during the reign of a class warlord (Margaret Thatcher) find their way to elude the thorny subject all together. Nevertheless, these disparate films balance absurdity with charm in a enigmatically Brit/Scot sort of way. And both dig deep from that never-ending well of comic glee: the geeky awkwardness of love-struck men.

Director Bill Forsyth (Local Hero) has a remarkable sense of quirk, and a firm grasp of the occasionally charming ineptitude of teen-age boys. As Gregory pursues the star of his football team a girl! he is pleasantly enveloped in amorous conspiracy while taking fashion and romantic advice from his 10-year-old sister.

Gregory's Girl includes bizarre and hilarious non sequiturs, including an underground pastry store run out of the boys' lavatory, an inexplicable penguin wandering school hallways and two gangly lads desperate to get to Caracas where the female-to-male ratio is 7 to 1.

The entire teen-age sex hysteria is put in perspective best in the film's opening line where a pre-adolescent boy comes across a voyeuristic stake-out (lads spying on a woman changing). "A whole lot of fuss over a bit of tit, eh?"

There's more comedy than sex in Gregory's Girl, but The Tall Guy makes up for that with one of the funniest sex scenes ever in which Emma Thompson's entire apartment is nearly destroyed by her and Jeff Goldblum's libidinal frenzy. In this preposterously charming farce, Jeff Goldblum plays Dexter King, an American working in England as a sidekick to a comedian (Rowan Atkinson). When he becomes smitten with his nurse (Thompson), he commits to a series of inoculations for a fabricated trip to Morocco just to be near her -- Ouch, amore!

Of course, just as his love life is going somewhere, he finds himself out of work until ... he's cast in the musical version of The Elephant Man. Unlike much of this country's loathsome romantic comedic garbage, these comedies know when to go over the top and avoid languishing in the middle.

--John Dicker

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