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To All The Boys: Always & Forever Book & Film
To All The Boys: Always & Forever Book & Film
Original photo by Feimoon Choy

Today’s Rom-Coms Are Relying Too Much On Borrowing From Recent Content

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The term “rom-com” carries certain associations with it, like go-getter girl in New York City or J-Lo or enemies-to-lovers. We are currently experiencing a new flux of rom-coms, such as Marry Me and I Want You Back. It seems like the most recent additions are attempting to borrow elements from the late 90s/early 2000s renaissance, which must be in hopes of recreating the same charm and appeal from earlier hits. My question is, why can’t today’s rom-coms be inspired by more works from works before the millennium? Hollywood’s Golden Age alone produced so many treasures. Here I have compiled what is regrettably a condensed list of rom-coms of which notes should be taken on if any more borrowing from the past is to occur (which I expect it will).

It happened one night (1936)

Considered to be an early addition to the genre, Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable shine as the headstrong heiress and roving reporter tangled up in a series of high jinks. The movie also charted new territory beyond the screen with American men abandoning the practice of wearing undershirts after seeing Gable’s lack of one onscreen!


Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant starred in several movies together but next to The Philadelphia Story (1940), this is the most fun one. Hepburn plays Susan, a flighty and impulsive woman determined to hold the attention of Grant’s David, a paleontologist with the worst of luck. I gave up my 90s/2000s rom-com dreams long ago to instead pursue those modeled after Hollywood’s Golden Age, and I blame this film.

gentlemen prefer blondes (1955)

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell are twin dynamos. Admittedly, this is one of several films that casts Monroe in a cringey male gaze as well as the dumb blonde stereotype. Overall, however, the film mostly treats her well. The film is most famous for Monroe’s showstopping rendition of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” but give Russell some credit. She does a pretty good impersonation of Monroe but can hold her own with performance chops and comedic timing in her solo sequences.

Pillow talk (1959)

Doris Day and Rock Hudson are at odds through a party line and fall into a case of classic trickery. Very few films of this period feature a young, single woman with a thriving career quite like Day here. 2003’s Down with Love starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor borrows generously from the plot of this film.

When Harry met sally (1989)

This movie is a gradual exercise in what it means to navigate life post-college and through various stages of life with all the accompanying joys and sorrows. In addition to the snappy dialogue, great care is taken with the cinematography. It is often lumped into collections with Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and You’ve Got Mail (1998) but this is the most quintessential Ryan/Ephron film of them all. Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby are wonderful additions to the already delightful pairing of Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal.

Julia transferred to VCU from Northern Virginia Community College in 2020. She is majoring in English with a minor in professional writing and editing. She hopes to be a staff writer for The Atlantic or Vox so she can get paid to watch bad movies and creatively dissect their cultural and political themes. Either that or open her own café where she can name all the sandwiches after songs.
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