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Tagline: America is Having a Love Affair With “A Little Romance”

Preshow Entertainment: A CENTURY OF LIVING

Cool line: “I figured, What the hell, the booze is free and maybe I’ll get laid.” –Broderick Crawford, as himself, entering a party the hostess was sure he wouldn’t attend.

Pizza: Marcelino’s


I’m going to do something I’ve never done in one of these RMC write-ups. I’m going to place the movie’s trailer here for you to see. Because I can try and sell it to you with my yapping (which I’ll do anyway), but watch this and you’ll get to taste A LITTLE ROMANCE’s wonderful flavor. Maybe I’m a softie (okay, not maybe), but even the trailer makes me smile for a solid three minutes:


Diane Lane (At 14...and playing 12-13...this was her first movie) is Lauren King, an American in Paris because stepdad Richard (Arthur Hill) works the European branch of his company. Also, her actress mom Kay (Sally Kellerman), always looking for the next thing to thrill her (Richard is husband #3), shoots movies there. A bookworm, Lauren is smarter than the average tween. Her favorite poet is Elizabeth Barrett Browning and she reads books on metaphysics...for fun. She’d rather read and study than watch her mom on a movie set or see the sights, until one of those sights is Daniel (Thelonious Bernard, in his first and also second-to-last movie – he went on to become a dentist), a French boy her age. Daniel spends his free time at the cinema, watching American movies (...isn’t that Butch and Sundance speaking French?). Okay, not just watching movies, drinking them. He loves them so much that we not only forgive him for stealing a Redford lobby card, but we root for him. Living (and dealing) with his ornery taxi driver dad, it’s clear Daniel is responsible and smart. With a constant smile on his face, he doesn’t see the bad in the world the way his dad does. No, Daniel is a happy optimist. There’s nothing in this world that can upset him.

They meet when Daniel’s class tours the same building where Lauren’s mom is shooting her movie. While Daniel’s friend points out an actress’s cleavage, Daniel is enamored with the film shoot, telling him, “All this (the film shoot) and you look at that?” Film geek. Ha!

Lauren and Daniel (he first wants her to call him “Bogie” since her name is Lauren, like Bacall) bond over things like existentialism (if they remade this movie now, they’d bond over Minecraft). So yes, they are two smart kids, but as we know, all the smarts on the planet don’t matter when it comes to love. In fact, they’d rather believe a fairy tale about how true love will last forever if you kiss in a gondola as you go under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice as the bells ring at sunset. And where did they hear such a legend? From Julius (Laurence Olivier, who’s fantastic, again), an affable, dapper yet spurious elderly man. The Bridge of Sighs story is just one of many things that spew from Julius’s well of stories. But are they all real, or is he making them all up? By the way, that whole Bridge of Sighs/Gondola thing is an actual legend, not one contrived for this movie. SECRET NOTE: Lane really did make a wish as she went under the bridge. To kiss John Travolta. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER was just released and it was huge.


Lauren and Daniel’s courtship, which includes Daniel’s misstep of sneaking them into a racy movie, blooms fast. Meanwhile, mom Kay’s looking for adventure with the film’s director (or maybe it’s the other way around), and stepdad Richard isn’t paying attention to this. That said, he is also the better parent to Lauren. Natalie (Ashby Semple), Lauren’s best and only friend, is jealous yet in awe of Lauren’s new relationship. Add to this the Romeo & Juliet complications, as Kay doesn’t want Lauren seeing Daniel (they even refer to R & J in the dialogue). But these are small potatoes compared to the fact that Richard and Kay plan on not only leaving Paris shortly, but moving to Houston (“Houston???” whines Kay). So what happens?? That’s for you to find out. But I will tell you this: there’s wagers on horseracing, there’s a bicycle race (Olivier rules here!), there’s pickpocketing, there’s money lost and money illegally found. But in spite of all the plot points, A LITTLE ROMANCE remains a grounded romantic comedy.

Diane Lane is adorable. Thelonious Bernard is adorable. On screen, Lauren and Daniel are - okay here it comes again - adorable. Their eyes light up. They wave goodbye with shining smiles. Their relationship made me envious of youth and first loves, something you don’t ever get twice.

Here’s something else. A LITTLE ROMANCE is a lot funny. Snappy patter like when Natalie says she likes her cousin, she says: “Second cousin. The kids don’t come out funny or anything. I checked!” Even glances are funny, as when Daniel’s randy friend exchanges flirty smiles with Natalie. And the characters? Broderick Crawford, who plays himself as an actor in Kay’s movie, admires Daniel for punching the cocky film director. Daniel: “Like you hit Ward Bond in the movie SIN TOWN,” and Crawford doesn’t remember (“You sure it was Ward Bond?”). We should get SIN TOWN in RMC and find out for ourselves.

There’s little stuff too, like how Lauren knows her mom may stray again from her third dad (that’s why she calls him Richard instead of dad – “It’s easier to lose a Richard.”) and how Daniel takes his cues from old American movies (“Here’s looking at you, kid.”). But I’ll be damned if even the way Lauren and Daniel hold hands, or the way he wants to kiss her, but doesn’t, and so she kisses him, wasn’t real. And real comes with the bad as well as the good, like when Daniel is jealous not just of Lauren’s attention to Julius, but of Julius saving the day when it should have been him. And just when you think these wise-beyond-their-years kids are too adult-like…they do a volley of “is to, is not” bickering. Because, yeah, they are kids.

What a great start for Lane, who at the time Olivier called “The new Grace Kelly.” Everyone was great in this movie. And by great, I don’t mean tour-de-force acting, I mean in-the-pocket acting.

Based on the French book by Patrick Cauvin, A LITTLE ROMANCE was written by Allan Burns, one of the head writers and creators of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW (as well as a writer on THE MUNSTERS and creator of the Cap’n Crunch character along with Jay Ward). Sadly, Burns was also responsible for scripting the horrid BUTCH AND SUNDANCE: THE EARLY DAYS that very same year. Speaking of sequels; wouldn’t it be great (or maybe it wouldn’t) if they made a sequel to A LITTLE ROMANCE? With Lane and Bernard now in their late 50s. Well, maybe it’s best to leave this story alone, but I did find out that author Cauvin wrote a follow-up in 2001, 23 years after the first one.

George Roy Hill directed 14 films in his career, and RMC has now screened four - BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP and THE STING, which also shows up in A LITTLE ROMANCE. I love all four of these movies. Sure, Hill’s made some clunkers (THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL was dreadful), but wow, BUTCH, GARP and STING. Chances are you’ve seen one, two or all three. And now it’s time for you to see A LITTLE ROMANCE.


Hill shot A LITTLE ROMANCE in sequence, so when the events in the last scene unfold, many of the cast members were really saying goodbye. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t get a bit misty myself.

A LITTLE ROMANCE is not a perfect movie. Some of the characters, like the director, are cliché (he has a sweater tied around his neck, a lens dangling in front of him, and he’s always barking about something), and Lauren’s friend Natalie is a textbook BYE BYE BIRDIE teen, but none of that matters, because it’s a beautiful movie; sweet, charming, and once again, it doesn’t aim for the lowbrow or the lowest common denominator. That said, I did learn how to say “nice boobs” in French.

Preshow Entertainment: A CENTURY OF LIVING

It’s so odd that we watched a documentary on people in their 100s talking about love, before watching a movie about tween love, and also, elderly Julius looking back at love with regret. Anyway, guess what? This documentary was also great. I mean, really great.

A CENTURY OF LIVING is a doc about and starring centenarians. As this was made in 1999, I’m pretty sure they’re all gone now, but man, it was beautiful. The stories they told. The memories that came back to them. Some of them tearing up about something that happened ninety years earlier.

We learned about chores (“I was in charge of cleaning the lamps, and making sure they had oil”). One woman was working at the Triangle Shirt factory when the famous fire broke out. One man was a porter on the presidential train, and told a story about how he gave Truman his coffee every morning, while another gets sobby reminiscing about Lindbergh’s landing. One woman learned about segregation by seeing two different lines for the bus. They talk of growing up, and boyfriends and girlfriends, and how sex was never talked about (one woman said she didn’t know where babies came from until she was 20). Of speakeasys, the Depression, the Dust Bowl, and bobbing their hair (“My mother did not approve”). Of a time before highways, where you’d follow the telephone poles. And recollections: “The first time, we were both of us virgins.” And “If you didn’t get married then, you would be an old maid. That was a terrible disgrace, not to be married at 18.”

Audrey, 104, said, “I’m happy. I wouldn’t be happy if I learned I was going to lose my job tomorrow.” She was a proofreader for the Independence Missouri Examiner. (I looked her up. She died a year after this doc aired.)

The stories are often heartbreaking and yet so much of this movie is about joy. The joy of life. The joy of their lifetime.

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