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Here's looking at 'Casablanca'

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   June 11, 2002 at 11:00 PM
LOS ANGELES, June 11 (UPI) -- "Casablanca" is No. 1 on the American Film Institute's new list of the 100 greatest love stories of all time, a list that demonstrates that the boy doesn't always have to get the girl -- or vice versa -- for a movie to be truly romantic.

Only three of the Top 10 -- which were revealed Tuesday night in the CBS-TV special "AFI's 100 Nights ... 100 Passions" -- can truly be said to end with the lovers getting together. As a matter of fact, the 100 movies on the AFI countdown -- although they contain 260 scenes of lovers kissing -- also show 187 lovers' fights.

"Gone with the Wind," featuring one of the great kiss-offs of all-time -- "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" -- finished in second place, just ahead of "West Side Story," which also does not end happily for the young lovers, Tony and Maria.

"Roman Holiday," "An Affair to Remember," "The Way We Were," "Doctor Zhivago," "It's a Wonderful Life," "Love Story" and "City Lights" make up the rest of the Top 10.

AFI Director and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg said the list, compiled by a blue-ribbon selection committee working from a list of 400 nominated pictures, shows that love can hurt -- "heartbreaks, heartaches and hearts bursting with love."

To qualify, a movie needed to be a feature-length work of fiction, made in America. Of course, it had to be a love story, and it needed to have passion.

The greatest love story movie stars of them all, according to the AFI ranking, were Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, with six movies each in the Top 100.

Grant starred in "An Affair to Remember," "The Awful Truth," "Notorious" and "To Catch a Thief." Hepburn starred in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "On Golden Pond," "Woman of the Year" and "The African Queen." They share the screen in "Bringing Up Baby" and "The Philadelphia Story."

Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn each had five films in the Top 100. Bogey was in "The African Queen," "Casablanca," "Dark Victory" and "To Have and Have Not." Hepburn was in "Two for the Road," "Roman Holiday," "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "My Fair Lady." Bogart and Audrey Hepburn co-starred in "Sabrina."

William Wyler ("Roman Holiday," "Funny Girl," "Jezebel," "Wuthering Heights") and George Cukor ("A Star Is Born, "My Fair Lady," "Camille" and "The Philadelphia Story") tied with the most movies by any director. Mike Nichols, Rob Reiner, George Stevens, Billy Wilder and -- believe it or not -- Alfred Hitchcock each placed three titles on the list.

There were 14 movie musicals on the list -- including "Singin' in the Rain," "The King and I," "The Sound of Music" and the animated features, "Lady and the Tramp" and "Beauty and the Beast."

Just going by the judgment of the AFI blue-ribbon panel, the '50s were the most romantic decade in U.S. film, with 21 titles on the list. The '20s were the least romantic with just three, but with a considerably smaller pool of titles from which to choose.

The '70s were the second-least romantic period in U.S. film history, despite the presence of such three-hankie classics as "Love Story," "Coming Home" and "The Way We Were."

The special is the fifth installment in AFI's ongoing centennial celebration of American cinema -- following the TV specials "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies," "AFI's 100 Years ...100 Stars," "AFI's 100 Years ...100 Laughs" and "AFI's 100 Years ...100 Thrills."

Bob Gazzale, director of AFI Productions, wrote and produced Tuesday night's TV show. He told UPI that -- like the ones that went before it -- the special is not designed to settle arguments about the greatest movies ever, but to provoke them.

"These lists are created to engender a national conversation," he said. "People get angry and passionate. It gets the country talking about classic movies."

Gazzale said the specials also drive people into video stores and movie theaters to see the movies on the lists.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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