Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The greatest love dashes of all time

love dash (n) the act of a character running to his or her soul mate or object of affection at the climax of a film, esp. when accompanied by swelling music and an overflowing sense of destiny.

After seeing The Apartment, and again exulting in Shirley MacLaine's mad sprint through the West 60s, I decided the phenomenon of the love dash would be an excellent blog topic. After some serious pondering, I discovered one problem: I can't name too many. The love dash seems to be the most typical and enduring cinematic convention, yet I can hardly come up with a decent list.

So, readers, I solicit you for submissions. What are the greatest love dashes of all time? Here are my top three:

1. Manhattan (1979). Woody Allen lies on his couch, despondent over his girlfriend's imminent exodus to London. To cheer himself up, he starts to list all the things he loves about life. Soon, he comes to the realization that he loves his girlfriend more than anything on the list. He must see her and stop her from leaving before it's too late! Woody lopes down a Manhattan street as Gershwin's spirited "Strike up the Band" blares away. He gets to her in time, but she greets him with a life lesson, not a passionate embrace.

2. Rocky (1976). The fight is over, and the Italian Stallion couldn't care less about his purpled eye sockets and the media frenzy. He wants Adrian, who is hugging the wall at the rear of the auditorium, concerned but unsure of what to do. As soon as she hears him call, she starts cleaving her way through the crowd. As the clamor intensifies, Rocky screams her name louder. Gosh, he really needs me, Adrian thinks. He actually needs me. She starts barrelling her way through the crowd. The two are drawn together like magnets. Eventually, Adrian worms her way into the ring, and we are treated to one of the sweetest releases in movies: "I love you!" she cries, shocked at both her wild emotion and her ability to convey it. "I love you!"

3. It's a Wonderful Life (1946). "Merry Christmas!" George Bailey shrieks as he runs through the snow-clogged streets of Bedford Falls. He has been spared a lifetime of emptiness; wouldn't you dash, too? (Note: I couldn't find a photo of a love dash in progress, so I offer Jimmy Stewart awash in the aftermath of his love dash, above.)

I considered: Lost in Translation (didn't like the movie, so didn't like Bill Murray's last-minute love dash and the inaudible last line [cop out!]), Forrest Gump (bounding through the Reflecting Pool is a nice, if schmaltzy, touch), Life Is Beautiful (oh that end, with the mother, and the son, and "We won!"), What Dreams May Come (Annabella Sciorra and Robin Williams dash through, like, paint in, like, heaven), and I have a feeling there's some sort of love dash in The Sound of Music, but I'm forgetful. No doubt there are a baker's dozen in Love, Actually, but I don't want to hear about them. And do the elderly Mel Gibson and Isabel Glasser hobble quickly at the end of Forever Young? Again, I'm forgetful.

Now, what are your ideas? What am I forgetting? Requirements: The dash has to have a good pace, or at least a sense of urgency (so no Shawshank Redemption, for example), and it has to cover some ground (at least more than what Fredric March and Myrna Loy cover in The Best Years of Our Lives). Obviously, it's a double love dash if both characters are rushing toward each other (examples?). And what if a character is dashing toward an abstraction (JMR, I expect you to enlighten us on that final tracking shot in When the Cat's Away)?


Anonymous said...

There's an extremely cheesy one in The Women , but you can't see the man in it at all, and it's really short. That's all I got.

Maria said...

What about Spider Man 2? Do we see Mary Jane run to Spidey? I know she runs to him, but I can't remember if we see the run. Am I ruining this movie for people?

Middento said...

Oh my gosh -- it's all about When the Cat's Away (Chachun cherche son chat). Despite what I've heard about Cédric Klapisch's recent work (spotty at best), the final shot where Chloé runs exuberantly down the Parisian street, not only having found love (ironically, in the form of her neighbor who is moving out) but also having found her place in her own community, the camera tracking along with her in a wild attempt to keep up, all to the tune of Portishead's "Glory Box" ("I'm so tired of playing/Playing with this bow-and-arrow/Gonna give my heart away/Leave it to the other girls to play/For I've been a temptress too long/Just give me a reason to love you/Give me a reason to be a woman") -- seriously, that's one of the most exhilerating final scenes of a recent film that I've seen in a movie made in the last ten years or so. Exquisite. Thank you for reminding me of that.

FYI: There is no love dash per se in The Sound of Music (by the end, they just "climb ev'ry mountain").

Then again, it serves to point out the you just recently referenced what might be called the ultimate anti-love dash, albeit also exquisite.

J.J. said...

Re: Spider-Man 2. I don't know what that is, and I don't care to find out.

JMR: Yes, I suppose The Third Man has the ultimate anti-love anti-dash (or moderately-paced cold shoulder?). Thank you for your input on the Klapisch. I've only seen it once, in that fateful first semester, but (as you can see) it has stuck. Also, I could've sworn there was some sort of love dash between Liesl and Rolfe, in the rain, in the gazebo or something. 16 going on 17?

Anonymous said...

Man, you know, I'm really starting to lose my mind. I'm remembering less and less.
This is a cool subject, tho!
Not a love dash at all, in 2 ways: it isn't about 2 people coming together and it happens at the beginning of the film. However, thinking about it, thematically, it IS a love dash for the NEWS:
Joan Cusack racing, dangerously, to get the piece of video into the broadcast on time. That actually is the end of the very funny sequence (don't forget "Bobby bobby bobby...!"). However, considering Holly Hunter's emotional choices in the film, news ethics vs. romance, this seems an appropriate love dash... for HER.

Dustin Hoffman racing to get to, crap, "Elaine," (yeah, my brain again), before she gets married.
Oh! Katherine Ross! Yes!

Hugh Grant and friends racing to the press conference where Julia Roberts is saying good-bye.

And there's some fuzzy image of a woman in my head trying to make her way through a crowd... it isn't Adrian... it's SOMEthing... aw, hell, I'll get back to you if I can relocate some of my brain...


one of my favorite is Miss Piggy and Kermit in The Muppet Movie.

but alas, it's not at the climax of the movie so i guess it doesn't count. it is in slo-mo though with swelling music and miss piggy's off-key warbling. classic.

J.J. said...

The Graduate! How could I forget. The most meaningless love dash of all time. Elllaine! Elllaine! What a bozo.

I'd count Miss Piggy and Kermit. Even though it's not at the climax, it's probably the most self-consciously love-dashish of them all (what with the slow motion and music).

Anonymous said...

What about West Side Story (with a bullet)?

Middento said...

The Sound of Music doesn't work because of your definition that it has to be at the end of the film. If you don't need that... well then, we can add a whole bunch more!

Oh, for 80s cheese factor: Some Kind of Wonderful. Eric Stoltz and Mary Stuart Masterston -- young love, with 80s hair, how I remember ye well...

Anonymous said...

2 words. Crocodile Dundee.

Mick said...

Damn right, Crocodile Dundee!