Meg, Michelle and Friends: Eight Shots

 Pfeiffer and Ryan captured conjointly. Any photographic pfavourites?

Meg&Michelle_0 (2)Shoulder to shoulder, smoulder to smoulder.

Poise Pout (2)Pose, pout and polka dots!

Meg Michelle and DennisLupine love triangle?

When Selina and Bruce met Sally..When Sally met Bruce and Selina…

Meg Michelle and KurtMaggie’s make out stake out.

Swooney Clooney Looney over swooney Clooney!

Beaches (2)Ball gowns on the beach.

 A kiss can be deadly!

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Meg and Michelle, Marinated in Meet Cute

One of the ”What if?” games I like to play is to imagine my favourite films cast with stars other than the ones whose names linger in my memory as irreplaceable. Think of You’ve Got M@il, then of Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, rather than Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.Visualise Roman Holiday not with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn but Cary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor. What of Jean Arthur or Irene Dunne as His Girl Friday? Both coveted by Howard Hawks but no match for Rosalind Russell.Almost every one of the romantic classics I hold dear to my heart had a shadow cast: other stars who turned down roles for one reason or another. With the benefit of hindsight, when sparks fly between two people on the screen, it’s one of the X-factors of movies: it can’t be predicted or manufactured, and once struck, it remains a mystery.We have an instant combustion called star chemistry, and it happened to me with Addicted to Love, where Meg Ryan’s Maggie harassed Matthew Broderick’s banal astronomer into dizzy submission.But can you love a woman who takes the initiative and wrecks a poor guy’s life? Actually this question was a recurring feature of the screwball comedy, practiced by mistresses of mayhem such as Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby and Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve. These love stories, a little too acerbic for audiences of the time, are if anything more popular now, when their energetically even-handed stalker heroines seem right at home.Love is cruel and all is fair in love and war. So it is a surprise 90’s audiences weren’t ready to watch Meg Ryan display a slightly harsher, more aggressive side to her cute schtick persona.At this point, all those fluffy comedies were starting to blur together into one big schmaltzy epic; While You Were Sleeping in Seattle, Harry French-kissed Sally on One Fine Day. What’s a girl to do? Well, if it’s a 1990’s romantic comedy, the best thing to do was run around New York with George Clooney or Tom Hanks, engage in verbal sparring for 90 minutes, before melting into your suitor’s arms.If Meg Ryan was unavailable, than a Meg Ryan-manqué should be enlisted. Such is the case of One Fine Day where Michelle Pfeiffer’s Melanie projects the frantic, driven spirit of a classic Hollywood career woman. Had Michelle been born before 1910, she might have stolen roles from Carole Lombard and Myrna Loy, even so, I did find myself longing for Ryan to put in an appearance because Maggie in her prime could play opposite a lamp post and make it look romantic.If we’d had Clooney, Pfeiffer and Ryan then we really would have had something special. How, though, I wonder could George do the impossible: by choosing between Maggie and Melanie, for his screwball soulmate?Fantasy casting aside, this is still a fun, if predictable film. There’s nothing here to threaten the greatness of My Man Godfrey atop the screwball canon, but it’s not a bad way to spend 90 minutes. With the emphasis on fast-talking humour and other conventions of the late 30s, I half expected to see Howard Hawks’ name above the title.

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