By Rosalie Tirella
Funny. I’m watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in YOU’VE GOT MAIL. On my TV. This Nora Ephron rom-com from the 1990s (I love her Meg Ryan movies💚) is based on the Jimmy Stewart classic movie of the early 1940s, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER: guy meets girl through writing of letters/emails, falls in love … but no! The love of his life, the object of his bookish desire, can’t be the horrid woman he works with/against. She hates him, too! In fact, they go around crowing to each other about their secret pen-pals and how the Hanks/Stewart can’t hold a candle to their true love’s wit, erudition, compassion … It’s all in their letters/emails …
Finally, secret pen pals plan on meeting in person – in a coffee house. The gal will be at a cafe table reading a book – and displaying a rose, laid across the cafe table.
But the guy now knows the gal is from his work world, knows her identity, so in a love jest, he meets up with her, teasing her about her lover pen pal – making her furious but ultimately getting her to fall in love with him. Jimmy Stewart and the Jimmy Stewart of our day, Tom Hanks, are funny and charming in these scenes … and winsome, handsome.
Of course, our gals fall in love – want their secret writer/lover to be Hanks/Stewart!!! I will not give away the endings of both movies … But just now I cried, burst into tears while watching YOU’VE GOT MAIL. Not at the happy ending – but at Meg Ryan arguing with her current boyfriend in A CROWDED MOVIE THEATER! I cried at the old America, at HUNDREDS OF FILM LOVERS SITTING NEXT TO EACH OTHER, SHOULDER TO SHOULDER, enjoying – together!! – a movie! This is what made me cry! Our past life – before COVID 19, before facial masks and six feet apart and elbow bumps when greeting old friends. I cried like a baby over this scene, pre-global pandemic, arguably one of the most pedestrian scenes in the movie!
I miss all the casual closeness, the casual but deep intimacy, society’s grubby humanness … sharing germs – and laughs and tears – at a filled-to-capacity movie house.
The DVDs and Video cassettes will do for now …
… but when things get better, when the vaccine comes out and I have been vaccinated and our COVID flick fades to black, I am driving to Northampton, to a real movie theater, a beautiful one – not a ghastly humungous mall cineplex in Worcester – and I am gonna buy a bucket of popcorn, a box of Jujus and sit smack dab in the middle of HUMANITY AND WATCH A MOVIE WITH A FULL HOUSE of my fellow humans. Laugh with them, snicker with them, gasp and tear up, too. While watching the movie. Together, with them!
THIS IS HOW FILMS WERE MEANT TO BE EXPERIENCED!
It will all come back … eventually. This is just the middle of the movie we are all in now. There may be a Tom Hanks pandemic epic classic on the horizon!