Don’t Watch M (1931) on Your Anniversary, and Other Unsolicited Romantic Advice

M (1931)

In case you want to see M click here.

Today, my husband and I are celebrating our anniversary. When we were married, the two of us were young, broke and stupid. We had no earthly idea what we were doing, or what was ahead of us. But we had fun. Lots of fun. Sixteen years later and we’re still broke, we’re much older and not necessarily wiser (but maybe a little less stupid). One thing that has always been a constant in our relationship is our sense of humor about everything. Matter of fact, our mutual appreciation for irreverent humor helped guide us through many of life’s unexpected obstacles. And when it comes to romance, my husband and I are pretty unconventional and pragmatic. We’ve been that way since we first dated almost twenty years ago. Don’t get me wrong–there are little gestures and surprises here and there, but you won’t see the likes of us in a Hallmark ad campaign. Our idea of romance is spending time together, laughing and sharing the things we love with each other, such as music and especially movies.

We have so many fond memories of sharing movies with one another. There was that one terrible winter when we were stranded in a blizzard for fourteen hours on I-65 in Seymour, Indiana, en route to Tennessee for the holidays. We had to turn around and go back home to Lafayette, and spend Christmas alone in our drafty, rat-trap of an apartment. We made the best of it though: we picked up a bottle of vodka, an unclaimed holiday ham and a stack of movies from the video store. We camped out on the living room floor in front of our tiny Christmas tree and watched Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis romp around in their Orry-Kelly couture frocks. Then there was the unforgettable trip to Savannah to attend a special screening of my favorite film, Notorious (1946); or the first time we watched the original Star Wars trilogy (1977, 1980, 1983) together; or the first time we watched Random Harvest (1942); and that time we stayed up all night to watch Dune (1984) and Polyester (1981). Then we inadvertently lived out a scene from one of our favorite movies when we went to see our landlord in an utterly bizarre and terrible production of Molière’s Tartuffe in the backroom of a seedy bar. It was just like the one-man show by the Dude’s landlord in The Big Lebowski (1998). It’s these moments, so weird and wonderful, that are forever associated with certain movies. It brought us happiness then, and continues to do so. That’s how we do romance.

While we have so many memories surrounding our love of movies, my husband and I have had our share of awkward romantic misfires. And so, in the name of love, and romance (and the betterment of humankind), here’s my unsolicited advice for all you lovers out there:

First of all, avoid Stanley Kubrick films on the first date. And don’t see Eyes Wide Shut (1999) until you’ve been together for at least a year. Exception to this is Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Stopped Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), which is a great way to find out if your date has the same cynical, fatalistic sense of humor as you. Also, there’s no need to watch The Godfather: Part III (1990), and especially not during a romantic getaway in the mountains. And if you find yourself saying “We need to see how the story ends!” just remember that beautiful, haunting image of Michael Corleone at the end of The Godfather: Part II (1974). There’s your ending.

And finally, the most important advice of all: Do not watch Fritz Lang’s M (1931) on your wedding anniversary, even if there is a special, one-night screening at your favorite theater that you don’t want to miss. Yes, it’s one of Lang’s finest films, and features an incredible performance by Peter Lorre in his breakout role, but nothing kills romance like a film about a serial child killer.

If you do find yourself and your date drawn toward Kubrick, or an aging Michael Corleone, or even a sadistic Peter Lorre luring young victims, it’s really ok. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: out of all the wonderful memories my husband and I have of our various shared cinematic experiences, it’s these humorous, poorly-timed viewings that we remember most. Movies are a powerful medium, and when they are shared with a loved one, they can evoke a range of emotions. We still laugh about that awkwardness surrounding Eyes Wide Shut, or the mood-killing monotony of an unnecessary sequel about our favorite mafia family. And we still get a kick out of the surprised looks we get when we talk about that screening of M with our friends. Love and romance isn’t perfect, especially in our relationship. But after sixteen years of marriage, we must be doing something right.

Jill Blake

12 Responses Don’t Watch M (1931) on Your Anniversary, and Other Unsolicited Romantic Advice
Posted By mdr : May 13, 2017 8:10 am

Jill, my wife and I have a similar history of movie watching memories (good, bad & ugly), from the very beginning. In fact, our very first date included seeing the movie Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)! Obviously neither of us had any idea what the film was about before we chose to see it. I think surviving that first experience foreshadowed our ability to stay together; we celebrate 30 years this August.

Posted By Marjorie J. Birch : May 13, 2017 1:59 pm

OK. I have a very few rules for Life (such as always-always-ALWAYS triple-bag the used kitty litter) and here’s another one. Do Not Ever See A War Movie with an actual Combat Veteran. Ever. Just. Don’t!

1) They will grumble audibly through the entire movie “That’s wrong. That’s not how it happened.”

2) When you get back, forget two dry martinis, foreplay and wahoo… you’ll be forced to sit and listen to detailed descriptions of how it DID happen.
3) And… if you spend the night, you will be awakened many times by his nightmares — if not your own.

So, don’t do it.

And yes, I dated a combat veteran. The only war movie he ever approved of was “Patton” because he fought during WWII in Patton’s army and he said that George C. Scott nailed it just right.

Posted By George : May 13, 2017 2:48 pm

I recall Crumb as the worst date movie ever. And Scarface (the Pacino/DePalma version) wasn’t much better.

You can find lists of “worst date movies” on various Websites. Ones that frequently show up include Blue Velvet, Carnal Knowledge, Kids, Requiem for a Dream, Gone Girl, Blue Valentine, Revolutionary Road, Antichrist, Happiness, Your Friends and Neighbors … and, of course, Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct.

And I guess Rosemary’s Baby is still the worst movie for expectant parents.

The movie that inspired Fatal Attraction — Play Misty for Me — might actually be a good date movie, based on the number of women I’ve known who liked it. But they found Fatal Attraction to be repulsive on many levels.

The only Kubrick that frequently turns up on “worst date movies” lists is Clockwork Orange. It seems that repeated scenes of women being stripped naked and raped don’t do much for a woman’s mood.

Posted By CitizenKing : May 15, 2017 11:47 am

My future wife took me to see The Manchurian Candidate when it was beginning to come back from oblivion (about 1988). An odd date movie choice as of course it includes a scene of Laurence Harvey killing his new wife. It wasn’t a first date but an early one and it told me I had found a woman who wasn’t afraid of old movies. I doubt she foresaw living with a guy who has over 1000 movies and a theater room in the basement, but we still watch movies at least weekly together.

Posted By Ed Buskirk Jr. : May 15, 2017 5:54 pm

George, did you really see “Crumb” on a date? If so, what were you thinking? (It’s so perfectly goddamned delightful, to be sure.)

Posted By George : May 18, 2017 4:41 pm

“George, did you really see “Crumb” on a date?”

Yep.

“If so, what were you thinking?”

I thought it would be funny. It was, but I didn’t know how creepy R. Crumb and his family would be.

Posted By Ed Buskirk Jr. : May 18, 2017 7:42 pm

Hahaha. I was very familiar with both Bob and Aline’s work, so I kind of knew what they were like. It still amazes me that his brothers make him look “normal” in comparison.

Posted By George : May 18, 2017 9:39 pm

As Leonard Maltin wrote, CRUMB will make almost anyone feel better about their own family.

I also wasn’t prepared for how sexually explicit the cartoons would be. I had read some of Crumb’s comics, but didn’t know the art would be spread across a large movie screen!

Posted By Murphy’s Law : May 19, 2017 12:03 am

I watched Crumb with my wife thinking “he’s a cartoonist, like Bil Keane or Charles Schultz, right?” Nope.

Posted By Ed Buskirk Jr. : May 19, 2017 12:42 am

Murphy’s Law: I’m assuming it wasn’t your anniversary, and that since you were surprised it didn’t lower her opinion of you. Now if you’d told her “hey, let’s watch this, I used to read this guy’s comics all the time, I love his stuff” I can see where that could be a problem (“What kind of sicko did I marry?”)

Posted By Murphy’s Law : May 20, 2017 12:02 am

She’s just less likely to let me pick the movie without IMDB’ing it first.

Posted By George : May 22, 2017 5:14 pm

Ed said: “Now if you’d told her “hey, let’s watch this, I used to read this guy’s comics all the time, I love his stuff” I can see where that could be a problem (“What kind of sicko did I marry?”)”

Ha! Reminds me of advice a film critic once gave to women: if you go to a guy’s house and he has posters for SCARFACE and FIGHT CLUB on the walls, flee! He’s probably a serial killer.

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