Books Perfect for Movie Date Night

I believe the best movies leap from the pages of stellar books.  I could have made this list as long as the bible, but below are the lucky 7 of my favorite romantic films derived from great literature.  I never get tired of reading or watching.  Make sure you have a few tissues handy, many will cause uproarious laughter, but others will break your heart.

 

Breakfast at Tiffany's Pretty Page Turner Books for Movie Date NightBreakfast at Tiffany’s

Holly Golightly is one of literature’s greatest and most nuanced characters.  The original party girl, Capote label’s her an “American Geisha”, when she is really a disciplined escort.  His novella shares her schedule of escorting rich men, allowing them to ply her with gifts and cover her expenses.  Originally considered too racy and littered with offensive language,  the Hollywood rendition is a frolicking and fashionable good time.   Colorful and full of witty banter, it took me years to understand the seedy theme at the core.  Audrey Hepburn’s Holly is whimsical, smart, beautifully coiffed and accessorized.  You will immediately fall in love with her blithe spirit and forgive her selfish trespasses.

 

Wuthering Heights Pretty Page Turner Best Books for Movie Date NightWuthering Heights

I’m not much of an Austen fan, but this Bronte sister captured my teenage heart at page one with the feverish romance between Heathcliff and Catherine.  Both wild children at heart, they spend the entire novel trying to tame one another’s fire, with no avail. The perfect case of star-crossed lovers, they haunt each other’s lives and dreams.  There are many versions, but the original 1939 edition with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon is my favorite. It is sweeping and although I know the end, I always expect a better fate for these kindred spirits. Emily Bronte’s only novel, she poured every ounce of love and longing she had into the dialogue. It contains many of my favorite lines:

He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

If he loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn’t love as much in eighty years as I could in a day.

Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!

One can never imagine a love with as much profundity and power within it’s dialogue.  I watched the movie and read the book more times than I will ever admit.  If you watch it, be prepared to become addicted.

 

The Age of Innocence Pretty Page Turner Best Movies for Date NightThe Age of Innocence

Set in the posh addresses of post-Victorian era New York City,  Edith Wharton’s masterful depiction of the forbidden romance of Newland Archer and Countess Olenska is a heart-aching melodrama.  Perfectly cast in Martin Scorsese’s movie, Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day Lewis allow the red-hot ardor to burn just under their pallid skin.  Don’t look for a happy ending, just rigid adherence to societal requirements.  Theres was a romance of a glorious gilded age with inescapable gilded cages.

 

 

 

Gigi Pretty Page Turner Best Books for Movie Date NightGigi

I can clearly remember sitting on the couch as a girl and seeing this Belle Époque frolic of a film for the first time.  I must have been 6 or 7, so I did not understand the full scope of meaning of this film, but I loved the look of it.  Oh, how wonderful Paris seemed to me.  I think this may have been the seed that lit my torch for the City of Lights that I still carry.  Maurice Chevalier, Armand and the utterly charming Leslie Caron made me want to learn how to be a lady.  The beautiful costumes and grand ballrooms took my breath away.  Even when I saw it as an adult and learned the mature themes that the movie portrayed, my love did not wain one bit.  I love the songs, the colors, the actors and the final happy ending.  Derived from the novella by French writer Colette, this story was the stepping stone for another ingenue that we love-Audrey Hepburn.  As always, the written word is grittier, but the movie depiction is pure glamour.

 

 The Great Gatsby

The tale of Jay Gatsby remains at the top 10 of my favorite books.  Considered the true American novel, Gatsby is the archetype of the enterprising American male.  His one-eyed focus on attaining the unattainable Daisy is inspiration, folly and foolishness.  Full of fully formed characters, the frivolousness of the age is the backdrop of a classic story of love unrequited due to class and society lines.  I always cheer for Gatsby, simultaneously wanting him to achieve his goal, while warning him to let that crazy broad alone.  My wishes are never fulfilled, which I think is what Fitzgerald wanted us to feel-completely helpless.  Just like Gatsby, our desire seems as close as the light at the end of his dock, but as far away as a lifetime of despair.  I love both movie versions, and I’ll take my Gatsby as old-school Redford or slightly slicker DiCaprio.

The Great Gatsby Pretty Page Turner Best Books for Movie Date Night
The Great Gatsby Pretty Page Turner Best Books for Movie Date Night

 

West Side Story Pretty Page Turner Best books for Movie Date NightWest Side Story

Romeo and Juliet is my favorite Shakespearean play and I have watched every version of the story imaginable.  I’ve seen the classic movie, I’ve seen it as a ballet (the Mercutio solo was divine), I’ve even seen it in Italy (I don’t speak Italian).  The tale of the star-crossed lovers from Verona is.  I get something more from it, the words an everlasting evergreen.  One of my absolute favorite renditions is the musical landmark West Side Story by Bernstein, Robbins and Sondheim.  It is a masterpiece with seminal scores, dancing and acting.  Reimagined as feuding street gangs, the movie depicts social unrest fueled by class struggle, the questioning of cultural mores and xenophobia.  What remains at the center are just kids that want to bridge their familial differences with their love, but who’s efforts are fatefully futile.

 

shakespere-in-loveShakespeare in Love

Another version of Romeo and Juliet, this wonderfully acted and arranged film is a skewering of how Shakespeare’s greatest romantic tragedy came to be.  The film version of historical fiction, many characters are based on actual figures, and many of the characters, lines, and plot devices allude to Shakespeare’s plays.  If you are a Shakespeare fan, you will giggle at the puns and references to Shakespeare’s work.  If you are not a fan, you will enjoy the lively pace, plot twists, witty banter and beautiful costumes.  As with all Shakespearean tragedies, the desired happy ending is not to be, but you will be amazed at how modern these Elizabethan words become in the mouths of skilled actors.

 

There are so many others that could (and should) have made this list.  What movies would you include?