With hushed whispers, stifled giggles and darting eyes following the new office couple at all times, office romances are one of the best ways to sell a movie. Though multinationals might shy away from talking about it, Hollywood surely doesn’t.
Executive Traveller takes a look at ten of the best office romances of all time.
No Reservations (2007)
This blockbuster starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Aaron Eckhart is one of the best movies out there that deals with office romances. Competition between two colleagues can propel both to new heights of achievement — or destroy them altogether. Chef Kate Armstrong is in danger of being outperformed by her sous-chef, up-and-comer Nick Palmer. Moving the threatened boss vs. talented upstart scenario from the cool confines of a cubicle to the superheated (literally) atmosphere of a restaurant kitchen kicks the excitement up a notch. Bam!
What Women Want (2000)
Each advertising story has a womanizer in it. But what does he do when he meets a woman who flummoxes him? Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson) is initially flummoxed by his company’s new creative director, Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt) but after Nick accidentally zaps himself and acquires the ability to hear women’s thoughts, he sets about foiling Darcy by stealing her ideas — right out of her mind. An original take on corporate spying, it also works the redemption angle when Nick sets aside his ego and ambition and uses his new power to become a better person… someone that Darcy will want.
Two Weeks Notice (2003)
Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock bring to life an immature real estate agent and his principled lawyer with conflicting agendas. As she accepts his offer to work as his in-house counsel, she figures she can thwart his propensity for razing landmark buildings more easily from within than without. Of course, this mismatched pair realizes their personalities and principles even each other out. What could have been a tiresome tale of do-gooder vs. selfish brat is enlivened by the spunk (hers) and charisma (his) of the leads, both romantic comedy veterans.
Superman: The Movie (1978)
When you romance a super-hero, flowers, mini-muffins or hot stock tips, try taking her flying without a plane, or saving her life by reversing the earth’s rotation is all in a day’s work. As Clark and Lois get comfortable and cozy, the contrast between the life of a reporter and that of a superhero gives office drones something to daydream about — there’s more to life than the daily grind, like saving the world.
Broadcast News (1987)
Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) is a smart, serious-minded news producer, a little embarrassed by her attraction to her show’s new anchorman, the charismatic, but intellectually limited Tom Grunick (William Hurt). It’s a frenetic — and accurate — portrayal of life at a busy TV studio, but as in a Jane Austen novel, things are more complicated than simply girl likes boy. The heroine ignores the sharp, talented fellow who adores her, ace reporter and world class sweat machine Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks), adding unrequited love into an already tense dynamic.
Lover Come Back (1961)
An unethical — but charming! — ad executive (Rock Hudson) incurs the wrath of his counterpart at a competing firm (Doris Day), because he lures clients with vice rather than a solid pitch. This colorful mid-century romp is a follow-up to Hudson and Day’s hit Pillow Talk, and finds them on opposite sides of the moral divide, sparring furiously. After Day reports Hudson to the Ad Council, he dopes her with an intoxicating mint — and marries her. As Ogden Nash said, candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
Working Girl (1988)
A job in mergers and acquisitions might not be anyone’s first choice for employment these days, but secretary Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) has her sights set on the corner office. To get there, she uses both her “head for business” and her “bod for sin” to claw past her duplicitous boss and into the personal and professional good graces of Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford). The glorious opening shots of the Manhattan skyline set the tone for an uplifting tale in which Tess proves that a feisty Staten Island girl with ambition can be catnip for the right kind of guy.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Is it her staunch fidelity? Her adorable young son? Or just the fact that Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) doesn’t really have anyone else to turn to but steadfast, smitten Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) after he’s fired from his job? A refreshingly non-saccharine romance, the pair’s loyalty and devotion to each other during the tough times demonstrates that even when there’s no official company to rally around, you can still be a team player.
His Girl Friday (1940)
Work brought them together, work tore them apart, and then work brought them together again. Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), a fast-talking, tough-minded ace reporter once married to her editor, Walter Burns (Cary Grant), is gearing up to leave the newspaper business behind and settle into domestic bliss with her supportive but dull fiancé. But the chemistry between Hildy and Walter is inescapable, as is her devotion to her career. Scripts this dense and clever don’t come around often, nor does the chance to watch the fierce and funny give and take between a boss and an employee who are also ex-husband and ex-wife.
Fresh from a brief stint in psychiatric institution, Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal) lands a job with an attorney, E. Edward Grey (James Spader). Of all the workplace romances on the list, it’s truly the most unconventional: While engaged in the mundane business of a law office, the two begin a delicate dance toward a sadomasochistic affair. The strong performances in this frank treatment of an unusual relationship bring new life to a very old saying: There’s someone for everyone.