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Watching a comedy can break the doldrums, but sometimes seeing a tearjerker is more beneficial medicine

Audrey inspects a film

Picture this. The Mohawk Valley a few weeks ago. The bad air from forest fires in Canada had returned. It was hot and muggy. Weather forecasters said stay in the house. I was vexed, I was in a mood I couldn’t break. I tried to end my sulky state by viewing the recent star-studded comedies for the post-menopausal generation… 80 for Brady and Ticket to Paradise.

80 for Brady introduces viewers to a group of female friends who are aged. The best thing about the film is a great cast including Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Rita Moreno, Sally Field, and, of course, Tom Brady. It’s a movie that pushes a message. You can be elderly and still have great adventures and strive to make your dream a reality. You can be elderly and still have strong friends who support and entertain you through the best and worst of times. But I still was in the doldrums.

So then I saw Ticket to Paradise. George Clooney and Julia Roberts lead the cast in a comic romp about a divorced couple who travel to scenic Bali to squelch the marriage plans their daughter is making. The film is funny. Clooney and Roberts, who are good pals in real life, are a couple of charmers, whether they are sticking to the script or ad-libbing. There is no deep message, just an entertaining story well-acted and well-produced.

Still, if I was going to break the mood I was in, it would take more than a couple of amusing films about middle-aged and older folks enjoying adventures. I needed more to pull out of a world of bad air. I needed -- the hard stuff!

Putting comedies aside, I decided to re-see the two most heart-breaking, romantic films ever made – One Way Passage from 1932 and Ghost from 1990.

In only 67 minutes, One Way Passage tells a memorable story of two people in love. Joan and Dan, played by Kay Francis and the inimitable William Powell, are traveling from Hong Kong to San Francisco on an ocean liner when they fall in love. The problem is that she is about to die from a fatal disease, and he is being taken to San Quentin to be hanged. It cannot get any worse. One Way Passage is a brilliant film, a melodrama with one of the strongest romance stories ever… and comedy scenes, too!

Ghost is a favorite of many viewers who appreciate romance films that go beyond true life. Combining tragedy with moments of comedy, the story deals with Sam, a murdered New Yorker (Patrick Swayze), whose spirit employs a psychic (Whoopi Goldberg in an Oscar-winning performance as Oda Mae Brown) to warn his beloved Molly (Demi Moore) against future dangers. The story of true love lost but not vanished, tugs at the heart. The otherworldly and at times heavenly quality to the couple’s love story is part of what makes Ghost a classic tearjerker.

By experiencing people in the throes of extreme hardship onscreen, I broke out of my doldrums. The films with tragic love stories showed me that my life could be a lot worse. The bad air and muggy weather didn’t disappear, but my vibes sure improved. Lesson: Comedies are not the only type of films to chase away the blues. It’s the possibilities for extreme sadness, loss, violence, and heartbreak that can make a person grateful, even happy, for what they have NOT experienced.

All these films are available for home viewing.

Audrey Kupferberg is a film and video archivist and retired appraiser. She is lecturer emeritus and the former director of Film Studies at the University at Albany and co-authored several entertainment biographies with her late husband and creative partner, Rob Edelman.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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