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Serve up chocolate and romantic DVD

February 13, 2005

The history of Valentine's Day is buried in myths and legends.

One story is that St. Valentine was jailed by the Roman emperor

Claudius II for illegally marrying young people when the emperor had

declared no marriages for the army-age men of the empire. Love kept

getting in the way of his soldiers' ability to fight. Feb. 14 was the

feast of Juno, the goddess of marriage, and so we have the day and

the occasion forever tied together.

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Interesting, but all this has little to do with tomorrow's

celebration of love and the ones you love. We celebrate with cards

and flowers and candy and, perhaps, that romantic little dinner in

that favorite little restaurant. Another way to spend a romantic

evening is cuddled up watching an all-out, hopelessly and unabashedly

romantic movie. Since love is a favorite topic of Hollywood, it isn't

hard to recommend some titles to fit the bill.

The contemporary "Sleepless in Seattle," about love pulling two

people together in a transcontinental pairing, leaps to mind, if for

no other reason than that it makes constant comic reference to one of

the greatest tear-jerker love stories of all time, "An Affair to

Remember," with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant.

Another delightful contemporary romance, "Bridget Jones's Diary,"

hearkens back to another romance from another time, "Pride and

Prejudice," because the book on which the movie is based was intended

as a modern retelling of Jane Austen's classic. Along the same lines,

you can compare the lovely "Emma," starring Gwyneth Paltrow and

Jeremy Irons with the hilarious but oddly charming "Clueless," with

Alicia Silverstone as the modern matchmaker in need of love herself.

If you do like your romance set in faraway places and times, don't

forget "Romeo and Juliet," "Shakespeare in Love," "Cyrano de

Bergerac," and "Last of the Mohicans." "Last of the Mohicans?" Well,

if you haven't seen Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe in the scene

at the fort, you have been missing out on one of the greatest

romantic scenes of all time.

There are the classics of romance -- "Gone with the Wind,"

"Wuthering Heights," "Casablanca," "Now, Voyage," and "Camille."

There are the contemporary favorites -- "When Harry Met Sally,"

"You've Got Mail," "Pretty Woman," "Moonstruck" and "An Officer and a

Gentleman." There are the delightful romantic films of the '50s --

"Sabrina," "Roman Holiday," "Pillow Talk" and "Gigi." And there are

the lesser-known gems of romance -- "Crossing Delancey" (about not

seeing true love when it's right in front of you), "Truly, Madly,

Deeply" (called the thinking man's "Ghost") and "A Little Romance"

(about that first, really, true love.)

The lists could go on and on. But if you have personal favorite,

chances are you will find it at your local library branch. So open

the chocolates, freshen the water in the roses, get out the tissues,

pop in that DVD or video tape and have a good, old-fashioned,

romantic Valentine's Day.

* CHECK IT OUT is written by the staff of the Newport Beach Public

Library. This week's column is by Sara Barnicle. All titles may be

reserved from home or office computers by accessing the catalog at

http://www.newportbeachlibrary .org. For more information on the

Central Library or any of the branch locations, please contact the

Newport Beach Public Library at (949) 717-3800, option 2.

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