Noe Valley Voice February 2004

Romance for Rent: Top Picks for Valentine's Day Videos

By Chris Wiggum

No plans for Valentine's Day? Take some advice from your local video store owners: Stay home! Noe Valley's video shops--Video Wave, First Choice Video, and Noe Valley Video--have loads of romantic flicks to watch with your honey.

Alex Gardener, owner of Video Wave on Castro Street near Jersey, has a few ideas for romantic bliss by the glow of the TV screen. His top pick is For Roseanna, with French hunk Jean Reno and Mercedes Ruehl. It's "a beautiful story of love that begins years into the relationship and takes us where few get to go," Gardener explains. "After many ups and downs, love endures."

Another tale of middle-aged lovers, Eric Schaeffer's Never Again, finds Jill Clayburgh meeting her man (played by Jeffrey Tambor) in, of all places, a Manhattan gay bar. "Two 50-year-olds promise never to fall in love...until they meet each other," says Gardener. "It's witty and superbly acted."

Next, Gardener bursts into song with a soaring "That's amore...." The title of his third pick? You guessed it: Moonstruck.

"I love Nicolas Cage and Cher in this," he gushes. "With its great cast and wonderful music, it will ignite the romantic in anyone."

Gardener says these titles will be available in the "For Sweethearts" section at Video Wave come Feb. 14, along with a film he calls "the love story that all other love stories are compared to." Of course, he's talking about An Affair to Remember.

Jim Leal, owner of First Choice Video at Church and 24th streets, suggests showing up early if you want to get your hands on that 1957 classic, starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Such films go fast around Valentine's Day, he says. But lovers looking for similar star chemistry with a modern twist might turn to Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, whose online love affair in You've Got Mail "clicked with just about everyone," says Leal.

Leal describes Casablanca, the beloved 1942 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, as a great story in which wonderful characters experience lost love. He suggests playing it again.

Diane Keaton won an Academy Award in 1977 for Leal's next pick, Woody Allen's Annie Hall. "[It's] a great comedy about mismatched lovers coming and going," Leal says.

Marlene Dunleavy, who owns Noe Valley Video on 24th Street near Sanchez with her husband Brian Dunleavy, offers several offbeat Valentine's Day recommendations. Can you picture John Wayne as a romancer? If not, you must have skipped her top choice, The Quiet Man. "It has a little of everything," says Dunleavy, "lush countryside, comedy, drama, and superb acting. And it's nice to see a mature couple falling in love for a change!"

She also loves the 1971 charmer A New Leaf. In it, Walter Matthau is pitted against "a very clumsy and innocent Elaine May, who at first drives him insane. Over time, he falls in love with her," Dunleavy explains. "It's a good example of how opposites attract and how beauty really is only skin deep."

Dunleavy also recommends Kate and Leopold. Hugh Jackman plays a duke from the days of yore who winds up in present-day New York with Meg Ryan. "As you can guess," Dunleavy says, "romance ensues, and they have to make a life-altering decision."

It may not be life-altering, but you may also have a decision to make this Valentine's Day. If a cozy night in is what Cupid ordered, Noe Valley's video stores can help put the romance in your Valentine rental. m


Here's a rundown of Noe Valley video store owners' top suggestions for Valentine's Day movie rentals. Enjoy!

For Roseanna

1997, Dir. Paul Weiland

Starring Jean Reno and Mercedes Ruehl

Never Again

2001, Dir. Eric Schaeffer

Starring Jill Clayburgh and Jeffrey Tambor


1987, Dir. Norman Jewison

Starring Cher and Nicolas Cage

An Affair to Remember

1957, Dir. Leo McCarey

Starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr

You've Got Mail

1998, Dir. Nora Ephron

Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan


1942, Dir. Michael Curtiz

Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman

Annie Hall

1977, Dir. Woody Allen

Starring Diane Keaton and Woody Allen

The Quiet Man

1952, Dir. John Ford

Starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara

A New Leaf

1971, Dir. Elaine May

Starring Elaine May and Walter Matthau

Kate and Leopold

2001, Dir. James Mangold

Starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman