10 Best Ways the Movies Say I Love You

In Rob Reiner’s 1987 fantasy comedy The Princess Bride, we meet Buttercup (Robin Wright), a young woman living on a small farm in the kingdom of Florin, who, according to our Narrator (Peter Falk), has two favorite pastimes: riding her horse and tormenting the farmboy, Wesley (Cary Elwes). Every time Buttercup gives Wesley an order, he responds with “As you wish.” Over time, of course, Buttercup comes to realize that what Wesley really means, what he’s really trying to say is, “I love you.”

Passionate and epic declarations of love are thrilling to watch up on the big screen. You probably remember exactly where you were and who you were with when Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) finally told Han (Harrison Ford) that she loved him in The Empire Strikes Back or when Harry lists all of the reasons he loves Sally in When Harry Met Sally. But sometimes, saying I love you means saying something else entirely. Sometimes, it means saying nothing at all.

In this 10 Best List from The Film Magazine, we are exploring the heartbreaking, breathtaking, and hilarious ways the movies say “I love you”, from mistakes and mishaps to some of the most quoted lines in movie history.

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10. The Awful Truth (1937)

When the screwball comedy emerged in the early 1930s as a subgenre of the romantic comedy, it declared loudly, and usually at break-neck speed, that love doesn’t just have to be sentimental – it can be hilarious and absurd. Screwball comedies often threw rational right out the window, making them deeply relatable. After all, who among us hasn’t been a fool in love?

In The Awful Truth, Irene Dunn and Cary Grant star as Lucy and Jerry Warriner, whose marriage ends in divorce due to mounting suspicions on both their parts that the other has been unfaithful. Even though their divorce is set to be finalized in 90 days, Jerry begins to get jealous of Lucy and her new relationship to Dan (Ralph Bellamy), a boring oilman from Oklahoma. Jerry’s jealously mounts, and when he suspects she may also still be having an affair with her music teacher, Armand (Alexander D’Arcy), he burst into his apartment only to discover that Lucy is, in fact, just his vocal student and Jerry has just interrupted her recital.

But Lucy doesn’t react with horror or embarrassment or even anger when Jerry does this, or even when he flips a chair over while trying not to draw attention to himself. No, Lucy just… laughs. It’s a subtle chuckle between her singing, her face lighting up, smiling wide. In this moment, it hits us: oh, she’s gone.

Lucy obviously still loves this ridiculous man, just as Jerry’s little slapstick routine points to his lingering feelings as well.

Recommended for you: Where to Start with Cary Grant

9. It Happened One Night (1934)

In It Happened One Night, one of the last films made before the Motion Picture Production Code, more commonly referred to as the Hays Code, Clark Gable stars as Peter Warne, a reporter who is down on his luck after recently losing his job. When he meets Ellie Andrews (Claudette Colbert), an heiress trying to reunite with her husband before her father can get the marriage annulled, he believes he has found the perfect story to put him back on the map. In exchange for the details of her life, he won’t let her father know where she is.

Over the course of their misadventures, of course, Peter and Ellie fall in love. While being forced to share a room at a motel together, Peter hangs up a clothes line with a blanket over it, to give both of them privacy from each other. The Walls of Jericho, he calls it. This literal divide between them represents their emotional divide as well.

Once Ellie and Peter admit their love for one another and Ellie gets her annulment, the newly wed couple re-enact this little scene, only this time a trumpet sounds and the wall falls. It’s a delightful and cheeky way to signify the consummation of their marriage, as well as their ability to now stand united with nothing in between them.

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