Six Reasons to ​Fall in Love with 'Moonstruck' Again This Valentine's Day

By Ira Wells ● February 11, 2016 19:30

Norman Jewison is often celebrated for his “heavy” films: that is, for movies that deal with the weighty themes of social (and especially racial) injustice. And for good reason – films like In the Heat of the Night (1967), A Soldier’s Story (1984), and The Hurricane (1999) established Jewison as a master of socially conscious filmmaking. But the CFC founder has long demonstrated a lighter side, too. Indeed, Jewison’s first big-screen efforts included romantic comedies like The Thrill of It All (1963), Send Me No Flowers (1964), and The Art of Love (1965).

Moonstruck (1987), often considered one of the finest romantic comedies ever made, is in some ways a return to the genre that Jewison had mastered as a young filmmaker. But Moonstruck is not blind to life’s darker side, and it is the fullness of the film’s operatic scope that continues to capture audiences’ hearts almost 30 years after its initial release. 

Whether you’re looking for a film to get you in that Valentine’s mood – or for a mature antidote to the inauthentic cheesiness of the day – Norman Jewison's award-winning romantic classic, Moonstruck, still has the power to seduce. Here are six reasons to fall in love with Moonstruck again:

1. Snappy Dialogue: The script, by John Patrick Shanley (Doubt, Alive), crackles with classic screwball zingers worthy of Frank Capra and Howard Hawks.

Ronny: “You waited for the right man the first time, why didn’t you wait for the right man again?” Loretta: “He didn’t come!” Ronny: “I’m here!” Loretta: “You’re late!”

2. The Brilliance of Cher: For those of us whose most recent memory of Cher involves the auto-tuned corniness of “Believe,” her performance in Moonstruck comes as a revelation. By turns gritty, sexy, vulnerable and fierce, Cher hits all the right notes. Every pop singer wants to act, but Moonstruck proves that Cher was an actress who could also sing. She was awarded an Academy Award for her portrayal of Loretta, and with good reason.

3. Moonlighting in T.O.: Many of the film’s interiors were shot at the Leslie Street Studios in Toronto. And while some exteriors were obviously shot in New York, sharp eyes have detected locations on College Street and St. Clair West.

4. Meet John Mahoney: John Mahoney has an amusing turn as Perry, an old goat of an NYU professor who is continually courting his students -- and is continually having drinks thrown in his face at the local Italian eatery (one of those students being Canadian actor Cynthia Dale). Mahoney—who taught English at Western Illinois University before turning to acting—has said that Moonstruck was the big break of his career, giving him the opportunity to play Martin Crain (the psychologist’s crusty, lovable father) on Frasier.

5. The Absence of Gangsters: Moonstruck arrived at a time when virtually every character in predominantly Italian-American films was associated with the Mafia. But Loretta’s father is … a plumber. And Ronny is … a baker. Moonstruck serves up the cannoli without the crime.

6. One Cool Mama: Olympia Dukakis may have been only 15 years older than her on-screen daughter Cher, but she supplies the role with a matter-of-fact gravitas that grounds the entire picture. In the film’s climactic scene, Dukakis’s character confronts her husband about his extramarital dalliance. She dominates through silence and stillness.

Watch Moonstruck on Blu-ray and DVD. Screenshots courtesy of MGM. If you prefer some gore with your romance, be sure to check out Five Reasons to Watch Canadian Horror Classic, My Bloody Valentine