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Our Picks For Movie Valentines At A Theater Near You

By Joel Wicklund in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 6, 2015 8:00PM

"North by Northwest"

Until Love Day achieves market saturation, Valentine's Day will remain Date Night Number One on many couples' calendars. For those not inclined towards budget-crippling jewelry purchases or strutting their stuff on the dance floor, the old-fashioned "dinner and a movie" remains a popular way to spend the Hallmark holiday.

If you want to head out to the theater for the occasion and 50 Shades of Grey doesn't seem like your kind of cinematic aphrodisiac, have no worries. Several Chicago area movie venues have romantic films of different varieties on their schedules, including screenings before Valentine's weekend, so you can avoid the heart-crushing crowds. Here are our suggestions for your best lovey-dovey movie-going options.

Breakfast at Tiffany's (Sunday, Feb. 8 and Wednesday, Feb. 11, Century 12/CineArts 6, Evanston)
Sure, Audrey Hepburn is utterly winsome, but for me Blake Edward's romantic spin on Truman Capote's novel comes down to the subtleties in George Peppard's performance. Few actors have ever captured being wholly captivated by another person so well. Try and overlook Mickey Rooney's astonishingly racist clowning as the Japanese neighbor. Well, you can't really overlook it...just try and bear it.

Casablanca (Tuesday, Feb. 10, Pickwick Theatre / Saturday, Feb. 14, Music Box)
Love, war, sacrifice...all portrayed with dazzling dialogue and the backdrop of a glamorously corrupt café and casino. What more could you want in a movie? This simply ageless entertainment is showing at two great local theaters, but as much as we love the Music Box, we're recommending Park Ridge Classic Film's showing of the 1942 Bogart/Bergman gem. Instead of the amateur crowd crooning of the Music Box's "Sweetheart Singalong," you'll enjoy a vintage Laurel & Hardy short (1931's Our Wife) and pay $5 less for your ticket too.

The War of the Roses (Tuesday, Feb. 10, Carmike Cinemas, Rosemont)
There should always be an anti-Valentine's Day option for the lovelorn, the bitterly separated, the happily single, or just lonely folks tired of having romantic bliss shoved down their throats. Danny DeVito's pitch-black 1989 comedy about an increasingly ugly divorce battle should do the trick. This is a Nick Digilio Film Club event, hosted by WGN's overnight radio personality.

Viva Las Vegas (Thursday, Feb. 12, Logan Theatre)
The Logan is making Pretty Woman a featured attraction for Valentine's Day weekend, but if cutesy prostitution tales aren't you're idea of romance, may we suggest Elvis Presley and Ann-Marget instead? Viva Las Vegas isn't a great movie. It's not even the best of Elvis' films, which is kind of a low bar, but it is a great deal of fun. The high-energy performances and the sheer Vegas-worthy gaudiness of the enterprise make it an enjoyable romp. It also has to rank as one of the more ass-centric mainstream movies of its era, with Ann-Margret's backside (fully covered, mind you) getting significant and well-deserved camera time. The stars have great onscreen chemistry, which carried over offscreen for a short period.

North by Northwest (Friday, Feb. 13, Doc Films)
Not really a romance, you say? Well, I dare say there are few sexier scenes than Eva Marie Saint's flirtatious train chat with Cary Grant. Besides, if your date can't enjoy a top-notch Hitchcock thriller, how long is that relationship really going to last?

The Princess Bride (Friday, Feb. 13, Music Box)
Some people would pick When Harry Met Sally over this as Rob Reiner's best romantic comedy. Those people are to be avoided. The Princess Bride is endlessly re-watchable, with some of the most quotable lines of its era. Funny, charming and simply delightful, it also raises a question I've never been able to answer: how did Cary Elwes not become a superstar after this crowd pleaser?