It turns out that Moonstruck, directed by Norman Jewison, remains my favourite romantic comedy/drama.
I confess to a life-long adoration of Cher.
She is old enough to be my mother, but never mind that.
Recently, I signed up with Rotten Tomatoes, would you believe, and one of the questions asked in that website’s personal profile blocks is “Who’s your favourite crush?” Thoughtlessly, I typed in Penelope Cruz. Well, to me she is beautiful. I had made comparisons between her and Salma Hayek for a while, and, after watching her in Woody Allen’s wonderful romantic comedy, To Rome with Love, I was struck.
Watching Notting Hill also conjures up a few dreamy, romantic moments for me. There is the book store owner played by Hugh Grant. And then there is the movie super star played by Julia Roberts. I confess, again, I have been in love with Ms Roberts since Pretty Woman and Mystic Pizza. Can’t help it. I have a fetish for auburn-haired gals. But what really made me melt was that smile.
When I first saw Moonstruck back in the eighties, my mouth was open as I watched the raven-haired Cher waltz across the moon struck New York streets after her night of passion with the commercially driven, eccentric, over-acting fiend, Nicholas Cage.
In 1987, the film won best original screenplay for John Patrick Scanley. Cher is that year’s best actress. Olympia Dukakis is best supporting actress. Cage is nominated for best actor.
In the film, Loretta Castorini (Cher), superstitiously accepts a marriage proposal from the hapless Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello). She forces him to go down on his knees and propose to her properly. For good luck. But then Cammereri flees to Sicily and the bedside of his ailing, but domineering mother. Needless to say, when she hears that her idiotic son is finally getting married, she makes a remarkable recovery.
In the meantime, our heroine, dutifully visits Johnny’s younger brother, Ronny Cammereri (Nicholas Cage) in the oven-hot basement of their bakery, to mend fences and invite him to the wedding.
As Nicholas Cage’s manic glare meets Cher’s moistening eyes, all hell breaks loose.
A memorable love affair begins.
A touching scene, for me anyway, shows Loretta, still unkempt in her modest appearance, preparing a well-done, not medium rare, steak with a side of spaghetti, for the bitter, growling Ronny. It reminds me of the old-fashioned idiom of the true way to a man’s heart. Girlfriend, are you reading this post?
While Loretta and Ronny tug at each other’s heartstrings, delightful side dishes are served.
Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia) is Loretta’s powerful father. He is in the throes of a personal crisis of mortality, risking his long-term marriage with his suffering wife, Rose (Olympia Dukakis). He serenades a low-class dame, spoiling her with cheap talk and cheap jewellery. He takes her to see La Boheme at New York City’s iconic Metropolitan Opera House.
Rose asks matter of factly, “do men fear death?”
She believes that this is why they run off to have extra-marital affairs and pursue as many women as possible to recapture their virility.
But Rose meets a similarly afflicted elderly man after spending too much time on her own. Perry (John Mahoney) is a college professor who can’t keep his hands off younger women. While her husband’s night at the opera is disastrous, Rose has an enjoyable dinner and conversation with her intellectual, but confused companion. They end their very brief fling with a moonlit, romantic walk back to her Brooklyn “mansion”.
Loretta and Ronny make a deal.
Loretta is adamant that she is going to marry Ronny’s stupid, selfish brother. Ronny pleads with her to have just one night with him. They will go and see his favourite opera, Puccini’s La Boheme. Once the night is over, they need not see each other again. Ronny would have had the woman of his dreams for one glorious night. He will return to baking bread in the basement, losing his own fear of death.
He will die a happy man.
Well, this is what he tells the unsuspecting Loretta.
For that one great night, the homely, greying bookkeeper, Loretta changes into an unrecognisable beautiful queen of the night. I was gasping for breath along with Ronny when she met him outside the opera house.
More was to follow.
This good, old-fashioned romantic comedy/drama has a happy ending. To accompany it’s ending, much like the movie’s introduction, you get to hear Dean Martin crooning his timeless “That’s Amore.”