Valentine s Day

  • Directors: Garry Marshall
  • Producers: Samuel J Brown, Mike Karz, Wayne Allan Rice, Josie Rosen
  • Writers: Abby Kohn, Mark Silverstein, Katherine Fugate
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Alex Williams, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner, Patrick Dempsey, Eric Dane, Emma Roberts, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Queen Latifah, Topher Grace, Carter Jenkins, Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo

10 stories of different people on Valentine’s Day in Los Angeles are all linked in some way. The story was written by Abby Kohn and Mark Silverstein.

Being There

  • Directors: Hal Ashby
  • Producers: Andrew Braunsberg
  • Writers: Robert C Jones
  • Genres: Drama, Comedy
  • Actors: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard A Dysart, Richard Basehart

Chance (Sellers) is a middle-aged man who lives in the townhouse of a wealthy man in Washington D.C. Chance seems very simple-minded and has lived in the house his whole life, tending the garden, with virtually no contact with the outside world. His cultural and social education is derived entirely from what he watches on the television sets provided by the “Old Man”, who raised him. The only other person in his life is Louise, the maid who cooks his meals and looks upon him as nothing more than a child who has failed to grow up. When his benefactor dies, Chance is forced to leave his sheltered existence and discover the outside world for the first time.

He wanders aimlessly through a wintry and busy Washington in old-fashioned clothes, a homburg hat, suitcase and umbrella. In the evening Chance comes across a TV shop and sees himself in one of the TVs due to a camera in the shop window. While watching himself in it he is struck by a car owned by Ben Rand (Douglas), a wealthy businessman.

Rand’s wife Eve (MacLaine) invites Chance to their home (the famous Biltmore Estate doubles as the Rand Estate) to recover from his injured leg. After being offered alcohol for the first time in his life, Chance coughs over it while being asked his name which, instead of “Chance the Gardener” (which is what he said), is interpreted to be “Chauncey Gardiner”. During dinner at the Rands’ home, Chance describes attorneys coming to his former house and shutting it down. Judging by his appearance and overall demeanor Ben Rand automatically assumes that Chauncey is an upper class well-to-do, highly educated business man. Although Chance is really describing being kicked out of the home where he tended to the garden, Ben Rand perceives it as attorneys shutting down Chance’s business due to financial problems. Sympathizing with him, Ben Rand takes Chance under his wing. Chauncey’s personal style and seemingly conservative and insightful ways embody many qualities which Ben admires. His simplistic, serious sounding utterances, which mostly concern the garden, are interpreted as allegorical statements of deep wisdom and knowledge regarding business matters and the current state of the economy in America.

Oblivious to all this, Chance wanders through Rand’s wintry estate. Ever the gardener, he straightens out a bush and then walks off, across the surface of a small lake. We now see Chauncey physically walking on water. He pauses, dips his umbrella into the water under his feet as if testing its depth, turns, and then continues to walk on the water as Rand’s quote “Life is a state of mind” is read out in the background.

Terms of Endearment

  • Directors: James L Brooks
  • Producers: James L Brooks
  • Writers: James L Brooks, Larry McMurtry
  • Genres: Romance, Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow

The film is about the thirty-year mother-daughter relationship between two women: stubborn brunette Emma (Debra Winger) and her devoted, possessive, blond, widowed mother Aurora Greenway (Shirley MacLaine).

Before the opening credits, the film portrays Aurora as a worried, new mother who checks on her baby every five minutes in the middle of the night and imagines the worst. In the baby’s bedroom, she stares at the crib of her infant daughter and imagines crib death: “Rudyard, she’s not breathing.” She shakes her baby out of its quiet and peaceful sleep, causing the infant to wail — and Aurora to claim: “That’s better.”

Later, as a young adult, Emma rebels against Aurora’s attentions, and against her advice marries literature student Flap Horton (Jeff Daniels). As the independent-minded, individualistic Emma is getting in the car with her family to move from Houston, Texas to Des Moines, Iowa, away from her managing mother, she tells her:

As they suffer from unpaid bills (in a wrenching supermarket scene, young Teddy (Huckleberry Fox) hands back a Clark candy bar to the checkout clerk with a simple: “I don’t need it”), young mother Emma also discovers that her feckless husband, a college literature professor, is unfaithful and sleeping with one of his graduate students, and she retaliates with her own brief affair with a timid Iowa bank officer Sam Burns (John Lithgow).

After the funeral, Garrett supportively pays special attention to Emma’s long-neglected son.

Bewitched

  • Directors: Nora Ephron
  • Producers: Nora Ephron, Douglas Wick, Penny Marshall
  • Writers: Sol Saks, Nora Ephron, Delia Ephron
  • Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
  • Actors: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine

The film is not an adaptation of the television series, instead a bizarre Re-imagining. It is about a witch named Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) who wants to give up magic and have a normal life, despite her magic-loving father’s (Michael Caine) warnings that she cannot live without it. She meets a failing movie star named Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell) who wants to find an unknown actress to play a witch — and his wife — in a TV show, a modern adaptation of the classic TV show Bewitched, a ploy whereby the egocentric actor can eclipse his co-star and claim the spotlight entirely. Part of this is perpetrated by his agent (Jason Schwartzman), who is just as obnoxious as Jack.

When she becomes more popular than he is and unintentionally takes the spotlight away, the pompous, self-centered Jack decides to downplay her role and make the show focus on Darrin (thus garnering the audience’s attention). Isabel becomes angry when she finds out (since he told her during her auditions that he “needed her”) and furiously tells him that he is a jerk. The harsh words, strangely enough, appeal to Jack who never had anyone speak their mind to him before, especially his ex-wife (who he claimed preferred to just lock him out of the house). He begins to give her a bigger role and the two begin to fall in love and enjoy filming their TV show.

Meanwhile the “spirits” of the old Bewitched television show work their own magic on Isabel and Jack by ensuring that the couple ends up in a happy union of witch to mortal like on the original series. The home in which Isabel and Jack finally settle in together is numbered “1164” as a nod to the house from the original TV series (at 1164 Morning Glory Circle); their new neighbors are also a nod to their TV counterparts.

The Apartment

  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Producers: Billy Wilder
  • Writers: Billy Wilder, I A L Diamond
  • Genres: Romance, Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray

C. C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a lonely office drone for an insurance company in New York City. Four different company managers take turns commandeering his apartment, which is located on West 67th Street on the Upper West Side, for their various extramarital liaisons. Unhappy with the situation, but unwilling to challenge them directly, he juggles their conflicting demands while hoping to catch the eye of fetching elevator operator Miss Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Meanwhile the neighbors, a medical doctor and his wife, assume Baxter is a “good time Charlie” who gets a different woman drunk every night. Baxter accepts their criticism rather than reveal the truth.

The four managers write glowing reports about Baxter – a little too glowing, so personnel director Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) suspects something illicit behind the praise. Mr. Sheldrake lets Baxter’s promotion go unchallenged on condition that Baxter’s apartment accept a fifth regular customer. Still delighted about the promotion, Baxter asks Miss Kubelik to a Broadway show. She agrees, then stands him up. On Christmas Eve, Baxter is astounded to come home and find her in his bed, fully clothed, and overdosed on sleeping pills. Mr. Sheldrake had borrowed the apartment for the evening.

Kubelik recuperates in Baxter’s apartment for two days, long enough for her taxi driver brother-in-law to assume the worst of Baxter and come to blows. Sheldrake’s catty secretary, one of his former mistresses, “educates” Mrs. Sheldrake. Faced with divorce, Sheldrake moves into a room at his athletic club and continues to string Kubelik along while he enjoys his newfound bachelorhood. Baxter finally takes a stand when Sheldrake demands the apartment for New Year’s Eve, which results in Baxter quitting the firm. Kubelik realizes that Baxter is the man who truly loves her and leaves Sheldrake on New Year’s Eve to be with him that evening and runs to him. They end as two misfits, both out of a job, playing a game of gin rummy. When Baxter declares his love for Kubelik, her reply is the now-famous final line of the movie: “Shut up and deal.”