Everyone has a love story of their own. There are even some people out there who met someone, fell in love, and it worked out great for the rest of their lives. If you meet one of those people, let me know. I would like to talk to them and find out what it’s like because that’s not my story, and it’s not the story of anyone I know (or probably anyone you know.)
And that’s because just about everyone also has a love that they lost.
How many times have you thought, “I wonder what it would be like if I saw her again? Would it still be what it was?”
Honestly, and I mean really honestly: you don’t want the answer to those questions. You really don’t.
Which is where the movies come in! Here are our five favorite movies about long lost loves reunited.
This is one of those American movies that just about everyone loves, up there with The Wizard of Oz and E.T. And such a resonating story of lost love between Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman). Who hasn’t memorized large chunks of dialogue from this movie? Bogart’s portrayal of a man yearning for a lost love plays so well because, according to a biography of the star by his son Stephen Bogart, he fought with the producers and writers over wanting Rick to end up with Ilsa. Here’s another piece of trivia about this film: Theo Epstein, the baseball executive who led the Boston Red Sox and later the Chicago Cubs to World Series championships is the grandson of Philip Epstein, who co-wrote the script with his brother Julius Epstein and won the Academy Award for their efforts. Now that is some kind of talented family!
It’s 1951 and a young housewife from Oakland meets a young accountant from New Jersey who both happen to be staying at an inn on the rainy and foggy Mendocino coast area north of San Francisco. They hook up. The end. No, not quite. Actually, they agree to meet “same time, next year.” The sweetest and most romantic movie ever about adultery. It really is. Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn play the couple. Initially, it’s all in fun, but as the years pass the year apart and the changes they go through in their lives make the reunions more and more bittersweet. Screenplay by Bernard Slade (based on his play). Slade, by the way, created The Flying Nun, the completely ridiculous 1960s TV show in which Sally Field plays a… well, you can probably figure it out on your own.
A schmaltzy love story/murder mystery. Tough combo to pull off, and yet somehow Ghost does it. The big question for me about this movie always has been this: how many people started pottery classes after seeing Demi Moore working some clay, and then quit when Patrick Swayze didn’t show up? Whoopi Goldberg won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for her role in this film. Get out the popcorn and the tissues, people. We’re watching Ghost tonight. Crying allowed.
This is a somewhat overlooked movie by the late Anthony Minghella (The English Patient). Jude Law and Nicole Kidman are the romantic leads in this melodrama about a deserter from the Confederate Army making his way home to the love of his life from whom he was separated by the Civil War. More dying in each other’s arms. More popcorn and Kleenex please.
We all know David Lean for his epic films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago. Well, let me recommend you try this intimate romantic melodrama set in the English suburbs just prior to the start of World War II. It’s a completely wonderful movie about two middle-aged married people leading settled, proper lives who meet by chance in a railroad station, fall in love, and start a chaste affair that ends quickly and with great regret. But what about the reunion part? You may ask. Well, it doesn’t happen. He goes to South Africa and she settles back into a happy marriage with her husband. And we can just wonder: I wonder what would happen if… Regardless, you don’t want miss this one. One of David Lean's finest. Screenplay by Noel Coward.
David Raether is a veteran TV writer and essayist. He worked for 12 years as a television sitcom writer/producer, including a 111-episode run on the ground-breaking ABC comedy “Roseanne.” His essays have been published by Salon.com, The Times of London, and Longforms.org, and have been lauded by The Atlantic Magazine and the BBC World Service. His memoir, Homeless: A Picaresque Memoir from Our Times, is awaiting publication.