At the end of this month, Living the RomCom celebrates its 10th anniversary (while approaching its one-millionth page view), so as an exercise in altruistic narcissism (it's all about my readers!) over the next few weeks I'll be posting "reprints" of some blog entries from the past decade. Here's one that occasioned my highest number of comments, back in July, 2005...
Weepers of the World Unite
West Side Story was the first movie I ever went to without adult supervision: a Saturday matinee and an actual date, not that sixth graders Judy Gale or I would admit to as much. By the end of it, with Tony dead and Maria wailing "Come and get me, Chico!" the whole theater was knee-deep in wet Kleenex. Judy was crying and so was I. But this was long before I had any idea that it was okay to be a guy crying, so my big challenge was to be super-quiet and sneaky about it.
I surreptitiously wiped my face totally clean, hoping I could look cool when the lights came up. Secretly still shaky in the knees, I awaited earning points for my faux-stoic maturity. Judy, meanwhile, was completely soggy and still bawling as we made our way up the aisle. And she turned on me suddenly. “I can’t believe it!” Weepily enraged. “I can’t believe you didn’t cry!”
I’ve never forgotten Judy bawling me out for my faked insensitivity. And I thought of her again when I came across an article in the July issue of GQ, British edition [the current link is from GQ's own online reprint in 2011] called 50 Films That Make Men Cry. A compilation of quotes from fifty notable “men of the world” (i.e. contemporary Brits admired by GQ’s James Mullinger and John Naughton, including Danny Boyle, Ricky Gervais, and Giorgio Armani), it makes a case in its intro that:
“…Perhaps because we bottle it up so much on a daily basis and perhaps because no one is looking (we hope) and perhaps because, occasionally, movies can be moving without manipulating, the cinema is where the majority of masculine tears are shed.”
They also note “bad news for those who fear the weeper would seem to be that advancing years make us ever more likely to cry.” Oh, thanks for that, chums: more wussiness to look forward to. The film selections are wildly diverse, from The Wild Bunch (see: stoicism in the face of death, taking bullets for your buddy, etc.) to Jaws (“I was very sad when they blew up that poor fish,” says MP Boris Johnson. “Why did they kill such a beautiful creature? It was only trying to eat people.”).
A mere two out of this group of former stiff upper-lippers cited romantic comedies. As a whole, the Sniveling Fifty resists any defining pattern, save one: the sole film to get three nods is Spartacus. Now, there’s a manly men's movie if ever I saw one. It’s the every man’s “I am Spartacus!” scene that gets ‘em, and of course, the final crucifixion, though contributor Toby Young cracked me up by claiming that his I-lost-it moment (Jean Simmons holds hers and Kirk’s baby up so he can see his son before he dies) isn’t manipulative.
Not that I usually dwell on such maudlin-inity, but I can’t help posing the obvious question. All right, American guys, fess up: What’s the one movie that makes you blubber?