Sleepless Over What Might-Have-Beens

One Fine Day is a dangerous movie. It’s one of the worst threats to my productivity of any movie ever made. If I’m unlucky enough to come across it while channel surfing, I’m stuck. I won’t move until it’s over. The movie sucks me in pretty much literally, until I find myself living inside it. Another day, another casualty of my Pfeiffer pfixation.I have let this whole “90’s screwball” kick run on far longer than I originally intended, but watching One Fine Day there’s a nagging sense that an opportunity was lost in 1997, when the romantic comedy was still a hot topic (and Michelle, George Clooney and Meg Ryan, were still hot stars). But there are some movies that aren’t just lost… they never were.The spectre of Meg Ryan haunts this film; this was her métier, and it’s almost an obloquy she isn’t part of One Fine Day. The film is so close to being copied from her playbook, she might as well have been a part of it. One Fine Day is like a concise version of You’ve Got Mail by way of Capra and Howard Hawks.But for all that, it isn’t exactly clear how Maggie would have fitted into this thing. Clooney and Pfeiffer were gold-medallists in the Gorgeous Olympics. In any rational universe they would pair off in the first scene and Ryan wouldn’t even enter the equation. Now all of a sudden the world starts to appear upside down.Meg would have been the default romantic lead for a picture like this. Unlike Michelle, whose allure was bound up in icy hauteur, her emotional wooziness left her vulnerable, more than almost any other actress of her generation. Each would have been the perfect foil for Clooney, but in different inflections.Ryan had the rare ability to be enormously charming and seductive no matter what the role. It didn’t matter how it was written, Meg Ryan couldn’t play a villain: The more overwrought she became, the brighter she shone.Let’s just say that a truly gifted writer/director had set out to do the very things that Lubitsch or Preston Sturges would have done. Cast these two platinum blondes in a sophisticated, dialogue-driven comedy and suddenly you’ve got a very different picture. Was that even possible? And if it was, would the result live for the ages as one of America’s best movies?



Filed under Retrospective

15 responses to “Sleepless Over What Might-Have-Beens

  1. Great post 🙂 If you ever fantasize about a double bill with one consisting of a Meg Ryan film and the other a Michelle Pfeiffer film. I would suggest pairing Addicted to Love (Ryan) with Into the Night (Pfeiffer). I would suggest pairing One Fine Day (Pfeiffer) with Sleepless in Seattle (Ryan). Now how does that sound for two separate double bills. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

  2. I could see them as sisters, one more reserved and elegant, the other one a wild child… not unlike Elinor and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility! I can definitely see Clooney as Willoughby, LOL

  3. You have a unique, and thoroughly spellbinding, insightful take on this.
    What you are is an artist, and a lover of true art. Our world needs more like you!

  4. As someone previously said, you have an insightful style in your writing. It sucks us in.

  5. “Pfeiffer pfixation” – nice one haha 🙂

  6. Terrific post! I love playing “what might have been” with films. As such a huge Pfeiffer pfan and of course a big fan of this film, I’ve never once contemplated Meg in the role, but now that you mention it, I can see the possibilities. She’d have knocked it out of the park, just with different verve and style than Michelle. I’m incredibly happy that we have this wonderful film to cherish, though. Michelle and George are truly delightful together in it.

    If you’re interested, I think I’ve put up several new Pfeiffer posts at my blog since the last time I commented here. Aaaaaaaaand I saw Mother! this week and have already started writing up a piece on her performance in that. Stay tuned! Enjoy!

    • My fantasies about a romantic comedy starring Clooney and Meg Ryan rival (well, almost rival) any personal fantasies I have starring me and Michelle Pfeiffer. Even with dreams of what might have been, you can’t knock Michelle in One Fine Day. She was playful and sexy and had great chemistry with George. I wish she’d done more rom-coms in this vein.

  7. Couldn’t agree with you more, Paul. I loved One Fine Day when I first saw it in the theater, and that love for her work in the film has only grown over time. It’s a truly great performance, one that doesn’t get nearly enough recognition, likely because it’s in a rom-com and those aren’t regarded as highly by critics (which is foolish, of course).

    Let’s not even get into personal fantasies starring me and Michelle. We could be here all day!

    My latest Pfeiffer pfilm is up on the blog. I saw Mother! last week and here are my thoughts on her outstanding performance:

  8. Dear Paul,

    This is a very interesting article. My sister and I also like to hypothesize about films which could have been made. It’s fun!

    By the way, how are you? We are nearing October, so I wanted to know if you have made a decision about participating in my blogathon yet. If you need any suggestions for a topic, I would be happy to give you some. I look forward to hearing from you soon!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

  9. I think it would have been really interesting to have them together in a film. I also would’ve liked Meg Ryan being cast in One Fine Day but I like it the way it is. Plus I think it was Michelle Pfeiffer just doing a nice film.

    • Nice to hear from you Lloyd. Sadly I don’t think I’ll ever see my two favourite actresses in a film together. It was probably too difficult to create a vehicle in which both Meg and Michelle could have shone, although 1996 vintage Meg Ryan would have rocked the role of office vamp Celia, played by Amanda Peet in One Fine Day.
      I can just imagine the erstwhile Queen of rom-com in a scene stealing cameo, flirting with Clooney, trading barbs over the phone with Pfeiffer, before the inevitable pface to pface near the end of the pfilm.

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