The Silver Petticoat Review first shared a list of ten great examples of meet-cutes a couple years ago. But it’s high time to revisit the subject and highlight some more memorable first impressions.
There are several definitions for when the main characters in a romance meet for the first time. My favorite (as mentioned in the previous meet-cute list) is found in The Holiday when elderly screenwriter Arthur Abbot explains it, “Say a man and a woman both need something to sleep in and both go to the same men’s pajama department. The man says to the salesman, “I just need bottoms,” and the woman says, “I just need a top.” They look at each other and that’s the ‘meet cute.’ ”
A meet-cute can, in fact, be cute. Depending on the personalities of the characters involved, it can alternately be sweet, comical, explosive, confusing etc. The point is that it’s memorable to the viewer as the pivot point in a story when two characters begin their journey to romance.
Meet-cutes can also tell the viewer quite a bit about the characters personally and what type of journey they will experience on their path to love. Some are smooth, others are rocky. But the meet-cute sets the stage for all that follows.
Along with happy endings, meet-cutes are one of my favorite moments in onscreen film romances. So, to add to our earlier published list, I have made a new list of unforgettable moments captured onscreen.
TWENTY-EIGHT INTERESTING MEET-CUTES
(in no particular order)
1. Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara – Gone With the Wind (1939)
After a fight with her romantic obsession Ashley Wilkes, Scarlett loses her temper. She throws a vase across the room smashing it to pieces. Rhett pokes his head out from his hiding space and teases her. She’s mortified that he not only witnessed a private discussion between her and Ashley, but also her loss of control. His mocking of her temper does nothing to endear him to her.
Scarlett: Sir, you are no gentleman.
Rhett Butler: And you, Miss, are no lady.
2. Jennifer Nelson & Bruce Templeton – The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
This is probably my favorite meet-cute of any film. Jenny is dressed in a mermaid suit to help her father’s glass bottom boat tours. Bruce is enjoying a leisurely day of fishing when he catches something unexpected. He reels his line in to find a mermaid tail and then gets yelled at by an angry and “bottomless” Jenny. It’s only later that Jenny discovers that the fisherman who has her tail is actually the owner of the company she works for.
Bruce Templeton: Hey! You’re the mermaid.
Jennifer Nelson: Yes, I’m the mermaid.
Bruce Templeton: Didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.
3. Christian & Satine – Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Christian’s under the impression that Satine has agreed to a meeting to hear about his new play. Satine thinks that she’s meeting with a wealthy duke. The duke may agree to underwrite the cost of a play starring Satine so that she can become a “real actress.” Eager to impress, their whole discussion is under this false illusion. Imagine their surprise, when they discover each others’ true identities just as the real duke walks in on their private meeting.
Satine: I can’t believe it. I’m in love. I’m in love with a young, handsome, talented duke.
Satine: Not that the title’s important, of course.
Christian: I’m not a duke.
Satine: Not a duke?
Christian: I’m a writer.
Satine: A writer?
4. Hassan & Marguerite – The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)
Hassan travels the roads of Europe with his immigrant family in a search for a home. On a steep, winding road, the brakes on their van go out, leaving them all scared, angry and stranded. Marguerite comes upon them and invites them to stay in her home until their vehicle is fixed. That evening she serves them local quality food which they all exclaim over. Unbeknownst to either Hassan or Marguerite, they are both chefs, who will end up working for rival restaurants.
5. David Huxley & Susan Vance – Bringing Up Baby (1938)
David is a serious (and boring) paleontologist. He’s meeting with the lawyer of a wealthy donor, hoping to garner funds for his pet project. While on the golf course with Mr. Peabody, David has the misfortune to run across madcap heiress Susan. She not only steals his golf ball but completely befuddles him with her lack of logic. This interruption continues as Susan eventually ends up stealing his car, all while David keeps assuring the lawyer, “I’ll be with you in a minute Mr. Peabody!”
David Huxley: [David is trying to prove to Susan that she’s playing his ball] You see, a PGA has two black dots and a Cro-Flight has a circle.
Susan Vance: Mm-hmm. I’m not superstitious about things like that.
David Huxley: [Pointing to a mark on the golf ball Susan just sank] There you see, it’s a circle.
Susan Vance: Well, of course, it is, do you think it would roll if it were square?
5. Anna Leonowens & King Mongkut – The King and I (1956)
Anna has been hired to be the personal tutor to the children of the King of Siam. She agrees to a contract with certain stipulations. One is that she will be provided her own house outside of the palace complex. Upon arrival, the king’s right-hand man shows her to quarters inside the palace walls. Angry at this breach of contract, Anna drags her young son into the king’s throne room to demand he honor his promise. Who but Anna would dare to interrupt and challenge a king?!
6. Jean Harrington & Charles Pike – The Lady Eve (1941)
Jean and her father have picked out the wealthy Charles as their next mark. Unlike all the other women in the dining room who are ogling the heir to the Pike beer fortune, Jean ignores him. But when he happens to walk by her table she sticks out her foot and trips him. Apologizing profusely, she finagles his way to his room and proceeds to dazzle the naïve Charles with her charm.
7. Amanda Woods & Graham Simpkins – The Holiday (2006)
You knew I wasn’t going to quote this film and not include an example from it on my list, right? Amanda has switched homes with Iris for the holiday. Late one evening she answers a knock on the door to find a drunken Graham on the other side. Graham is confused to find a stranger answering his sister’s door. After he identifies himself, Amanda invites him in. While Graham wanders over to the loo, Amanda frantically readjusts her hair and her messy lounge clothes to make a better impression.
8. Joe Fox & Kathleen Kelly – You’ve Got Mail (1998)
While technically it isn’t their first meeting, it’s the first time that one is aware of who the other is. Joe and Kathleen are pen pals online, but business rivals in real life. After corresponding for a while, they finally agree to meet in person. Joe arrives to find Kathleen waiting to meet the man she believes to be a friend. After some consideration, he reveals his presence, but not his identity. Kathleen believes he is there just to harass her and for once in her life is able to deliver a scathing cut-down. Joe leaves and Kathleen feels a bit proud then guilty for her meanness.
9. Godfrey & Irene Bullock – My Man Godfrey (1936)
Irene is participating in a city-wide scavenger hunt with a bunch of wealthy friends. One of the items on the list is a “forgotten man.” Determined to best her haughty sister Cornelia, Irene follows her down to the city dump. Cornelia offers money to a homeless man there if he will be her forgotten man. He rejects her offer and causes her to fall. Irene is thrilled with her sister’s humiliation and one-ups her sister by offering Godfrey a job as their family butler. Little does she know that Godfrey is actually the heir of a wealthy family who is in disguise.
Irene: Could you tell me why you live in a place like this when there’s so many other nice places?
Godfrey: You really want to know?
Irene: Oh, I’m very curious.
Godfrey: It’s because my real estate agent felt that the altitude would be very good for my asthma.
10. Nicole Bonnet & Simon Dermott –How To Steal a Million (1966)
Nicole’s father is a talented artist who copies famous pieces of art and passes them off as originals. Simon is an art investigator following a lead. During the course of his investigation, he sneaks into the Bonnet home late one night. Hearing a noise, Nicole creeps downstairs with a gun. While confronting the intruder the gun accidentally goes off and grazes Simon’s arm. Believing Simon to be a thief, Nicole convinces him to help her steal back one of her father’s forgeries. She doesn’t realize it’s the very same piece that Simon is investigating.
Nicole Bonnet: Don’t be such a baby, it’s only a flesh wound!
Simon Dermott: Happens to be my flesh.
Nicole Bonnet: For a burglar, you’re not very brave, are you?
Simon Dermott: I’m a society burglar. I don’t expect people to rush about shooting me!
11. Lily & Gaston Monescu – Trouble in Paradise (1932)
If you have the mistaken belief that old movies are boring or moralistic, then you’ve never seen this little gem. Lily and Gaston are both passing themselves off as wealthy aristocrats when they meet at a hotel in Venice. The reality is that they’re both skilled white collar thieves. In fact, Gaston has just completed robbing a fellow hotel patron just before his first dinner date with Lily. As they sit down to dinner in Gaston’s room, each one continues to maintain their disguise. Meanwhile, they lift various items from each other’s person as the night progresses. When the truth is finally revealed, they are both delighted. The discovery acts as an aphrodisiac for the rest of their evening.
Lily Vautier: I have a confession to make to you: Baron, you are a crook. You robbed the gentleman in 253, 5, 7 and 9. May I have the salt?
Gaston Monescu: Please!
Lily Vautier: Thank you.
Gaston Monescu: The pepper too?
Lily Vautier: Oh, no, thank you.
Gaston Monescu: You’re very welcome. Countess, believe me before you left this room, I would have told you everything. And let me say this, with love in my heart: Countess, you are a thief. The wallet of the gentleman in 253, 5, 7 and 9 is in your possession. I knew it very well when you took it out of my pocket. In fact, you tickled me. But your embrace was so sweet.
12. Thomas Crown & Catherine Banning – Thomas Crown Affair (1968, 1999)
When a priceless work of art is stolen from a New York City museum, the insurance company sends in their most talented investigator. Catherine believes the wealthy and illusive Thomas Crown may have stolen the painting out of boredom and for the challenge. She boldly confronts him with her theory. Instead of playing it cautious, he asks her for a date. The two versions of this film differ, but both show their first meeting as a challenge Catherine poses to Thomas.
[Banning shows up at a ball wearing a red sash]
Thomas Crown: This is a black and white ball.
Catherine Banning: That’s okay, I wasn’t invited anyway.
13. Anne & Gilbert and Gilbert Blythe – Anne of Green Gables (1985)
Who can forget the first meeting of Anne and Gilbert her first day of school after finally settling in on Prince Edward Island? Though they took notice of each other at a church event, Anne ignored him. When Gilbert tries to get her attention in the classroom by calling her by the hated nickname “Carrots,” Anne’s anger leads to her smashing her slate over his head. She then swears to never forgive him.
Gilbert Blythe: Anne, wait! I’m sorry for teasing you about your hair. Don’t be mad at me for keeps.
Diana Barry: Oh, Anne, how could you? Gilbert always makes fun of the girls. He calls me crow head all the time, but I’ve never heard him apologize before.
Anne Shirley: There’s a world of difference between being called crow-head and being called carrots. I shall never forgive Gilbert Blythe.
14. Mitch Evers & Maggie McKendrick – The Parent Trap (1961)
Though not unknown to each other, these two haven’t seen each other since their divorce and a split custody agreement. After discovering her twin daughters have switched places, Maggie flies out to Mitch’s ranch to reunite the girls. While there, she spies his new girlfriend and decides to spruce herself up before revealing to Mitch that she’s there. When she makes her grand entrance, he’s so surprised by the fact that she’s there looking so beautiful that he backs himself right into the swimming pool.
15. Elizabeth Bennett & Fitzwilliam Darcy – Pride and Prejudice (multiple versions)
This is perhaps one of the most well-known and beloved meet-cutes in literature and film. Darcy arrives at a country dance with his affable friend Charles Bingley. Bingley is immediately taken with Elizabeth’s beautiful older sister, Jane. Darcy cannot be bothered to dance with the provincial locals. Bingley encourages Darcy to ask Elizabeth to dance, but Darcy responds with an insult. He also rebuffs Elizabeth’s attempt to converse with him. Is it any wonder she feels a prejudice towards such a haughty man?
Mr. Bingley: [overheard by Charlotte and Elizabeth] But her sister Elizabeth is very agreeable.
Mr. Darcy: Thoroughly tolerable, I dare say, but not handsome enough to tempt *me*. You’d better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles. You’re wasting your time with me.
[the two men depart]
Charlotte Lucas: Count your blessings, Lizzy. If he liked you, you’d have to talk to him.
Elizabeth Bennet: Precisely. As it is I wouldn’t dance with him for all of Darbyshire, let alone the miserable half.
16. Harry Burns & Sally Albright – When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Little do these two know upon their first meeting that they will share a long-term friendship which eventually leads to marriage. Harry and Sally first meet as recent college grads who must share a vehicle on a cross-country road trip to New York. The trip allows for multiple discussions on various topics, which they invariably disagree about. They part completely irritated with each other, never suspecting they will meet again.
Harry Burns: The first time we met, we hated each other.
Sally Albright: No, you didn’t hate me, I hated you. The second time we met, you didn’t even remember me.
Harry Burns: I did too, I remembered you. The third time we met, we became friends.
Sally Albright: We were friends for a long time.
17. Andie Anderson & Benjamin Barry – How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)
Andie is writing an article about all the things women do wrong in relationships that drive men away. Ben has made a bet that he can make a woman fall in love with him in a short period of time. While each are out at a bar with their friends, they notice each other. They separately agree to use each other as test cases for her article and his bet. They approach each other and carry on a one-word conversation before agreeing to a date. Only neither one knows that the other isn’t sincere in their interest.
Ben: Rarely. Interested?
18. Diana Prince & Steve Trevor – Wonder Woman (2017)
Diana has been training her whole life on her protected island to be an Amazonian warrior. Steve is a WWII fighter pilot who manages to break the protective barrier around her island before crashing into the sea. He’s trapped in his plane as it slowly sinks. Diana dives into the deep to rescue him and carries him to shore.
Diana Prince: You’re a man…
Steve Trevor: Yeah… I mean… do I not look like one?
19. Elizabeth Masterson & David Abbott – Just Like Heaven (2005)
She’s in a coma following a car accident. He’s a grieving widower who is in the market for a new apartment. After rejecting all of the places his realtor shows him, David finally agrees that Elizabeth’s apartment (which is being sublet by her family) is the right one. But once he settles in, he’s shocked when a bossy young woman appears, yelling at him about not using a coaster on her coffee table. They argue about whose home it is until she discovers that she can walk through solid materials.
Elizabeth Masterson: Oh my, this is more serious than I thought.
David Abbott: Go away, you don’t exist!
Elizabeth Masterson: I’m going to ask you a series of questions and I want you to answer honestly. Has your recent alcohol intake increased?
David Abbott: Yeah. So?
Elizabeth Masterson: So are you hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t quite real?
David Abbott: As a matter of fact, yeah.
Elizabeth Masterson: Well then, have you recently sought consult from a mental health care professional?
David Abbott: What? How did you know that? Stay away from me!
Elizabeth Masterson: Do you often feel paranoid, like people are out to get you?
David Abbott: Why are you asking so many questions?
Elizabeth Masterson: I’ll take that as a yes. Listen to me. You have fantasized, quite convincingly that you have rented an apartment that in fact belongs to somebody else.
Elizabeth Masterson: I think you may need to come to terms with the fact that you may be mentally ill.
20. Anna Brady & Declan O’Callaghan – Leap Year (2010)
Anna decides to propose to her boyfriend on Leap Year in Ireland. But thanks to terrible storms she’s having extreme difficulty reaching Dublin. After a rough boat ride and a thorough soaking, she arrives at a small pub only to meet with its’ surly bartender. Needing a taxi, she inquires about a phone and Declan directs her to one there at the bar. She dials the number and someone answers. Anna can hear Declan’s voice nearby. Looking up she discovers that he’s the voice on the other end of the phone.
21. Penelope Wilhern & Johnny/Max – Penelope (2006)
Thanks to a curse, Penelope has the nose of a pig. The curse can only be broken by true love. Her appearance, however, makes this difficult. Her desperate mother uses Penelope’s inheritance as a lure to find potential husband candidates. While Penelope stays hidden behind a one-way mirror, each suitor has the chance to get to know her first through conversation. But they all flee when she reveals herself. Until Max arrives. Max has been hired to pose as a suitor in order to write a news article about the elusive Penelope. Max and Penelope establish a real connection discussing music and literature. And when Phoebe feels safe enough to reveal herself, Max is the only man who doesn’t run away from her unique face. But ashamed, she runs from him.
22. Jonathan Trager & Sara Thomas – Serendipity (2001)
It’s Christmas time in New York and holiday shopping is in full swing. Jonathan and Sara are strangers who just happen to reach for the same pair of gloves. When the salesperson informs them that it’s the last remaining pair, they both argue over who should have them. This meet-cute leads to them spending one magical winter evening together before they decide that they should each keep one glove.
Jonathan: I hope you enjoy the gloves you bought yourself.
Sara: Oh, I’m sure I will, I usually enjoy my own thoughtfulness.
23. Margaret Hale & John Thornton – North and South (2004)
Margaret is a genteel lady who has recently moved to the industrial town of Milton. While on the hunt for a home for herself and her parents, she has a run-in with a real estate agent who has been employed by John Thornton. Deciding she must speak with Thornton herself, she insists the agent introduce them. After waiting a while at Thornton’s cotton mill, she becomes impatient and goes to look for him herself. She wanders back into the mill floor where she sees the owner beating a man who has been caught smoking and endangering the lives of all the other workers. She’s frightened by the display but intervenes on behalf of the beaten man only to discover that Thornton owns the mill.
24. Ross Poldark and Demelza Carne – Poldark (2015 -)
Is there a meeting more ignominious than this? Ross is still mourning the marriage of his first love to his cousin. While in town, he happens across a filthy young boy protecting a dog from abuse by a small crowd. Ross steps in to rescue both the boy and the dog only to discover that the boy is, in fact, a young woman.
25. Paul Sutton & Victoria Aragon – Walk in the Clouds (1995)
Paul and Victoria are traveling on the same train. A veteran of WWII, Paul is returning to his regular sales route. Victoria is traveling home from college in disgrace, trying to decide how to break the news to her authoritative father that she is pregnant. When Paul helps Victoria with her baggage she vomits all over his uniform. Later, when the conductor comes by for his ticket, he realizes that he and Victoria must have gotten their tickets mixed up in the chaos. Later he finds himself on the same bus with Victoria again. After confessing her predicament he agrees to pretend to be her husband in order to spare Victoria her father’s wrath.
26. Jim Craig & Jessica Harrison – The Man From Snowy River (1982)
Jim has left his home in the mountains and is in town looking for work. The train arrives with local rancher Harrison’s prized colt. But there is some trouble unloading the feisty horse from the train car. The handler has difficulty keeping the colt under control. Jim grabs the reins from the handler and manages to calm the horse but upsets the handler. Jim finds himself confronted by an angry young woman who just happens to be Harrison’s daughter, Jessica.
Jessica Harrison: If I’d wanted your help, mate, I would’ve asked for it.
27. Lucy Hill & Ted Mitchell – New in Town (2009)
Lucy’s Miami based company has sent her to wintry Minnesota to evaluate the continued viability of one of their subsidiary companies. Lucy is under instructions to cut costs and possibly close down the manufacturing plant which is the town’s largest employer. Her temporary secretary invites Lucy over for dinner at her humble home. Lucy is surprised to find single father Ted also joining them for dinner. Lucy believes that Ted was invited as a potential date for her. They do NOT get off on the right foot, with each of them insulting the other. She only realizes how unfortunate their first introduction is the next morning when she has an important meeting with the local Union representative who just happens to be Ted.
Lucy Hill: [conversation at dinner table] Industrial competition in a free-market economy is what built this country.
Ted Mitchell: No, robber barons built this country, and they did it from the blood of working folks. Hell, you steal somebody’s car, you get thrown in jail, you steal somebody’s life savings, you get to be a CEO.
Lucy Hill: I’m planning on being a CEO.
Ted Mitchell: Well, Blanche, you better count the silverware before she leaves, then.
Lucy Hill: Oh, don’t bother, I’m leaving now.
Ted Mitchell: Not if I leave first.
28.Belle and the Beast – Beauty and the Beast (2017)
Perhaps the scariest of meet-cutes. Belle finds her beloved father imprisoned in a dark, creepy castle. While speaking with her father in his cell, she’s confronted by his captor, the Beast. The Beast uses his appearance and manner to try to intimidate Belle into leaving. But she refuses, instead bargaining for her father’s freedom with her own.
Belle: [sees the Beast’s silhouette in an upper part of the tower] Who’s there? Who are you?
Beast: [angrily] Who are *you*?
Belle: I’ve come for my father!
Beast: Your father… is a thief!
Beast: He stole a rose.
Belle: I asked for the rose. Punish ME, not him.
Maurice: No, he means forever. Apparently, that’s what happens around here when you pick a flower!
Belle: [to the Beast] A life sentence for a rose?
Beast: [leaps down to her section of the tower, but remains hidden in the shadows] I received eternal damnation for one. I’m merely locking him away. Now, do you still wish to take your father’s place?
INFORMATION ABOUT THE MOVIES
Where to Watch: Many of the classic films are aired on TCM. Almost every movie on this list is also available on DVD and some on various streaming sites.
Available on Netflix: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Leap Year, North and South, Beauty and the Beast
Stream on Amazon Prime: Gone With the Wind, My Man Godfrey, Poldark, New in Town
Rent from Amazon: Gone With the Wind, The Glass Bottom Boat, Moulin Rouge, Bringing Up Baby, The Lady Eve, The Holiday, You’ve Got Mail, My Man Godfrey, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Parent Trap, When Harry Met Sally, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Just Like Heaven, Leap Year, Serendipity, Poldark, A Walk in the Clouds, The Man From Snowy River, New in Town, Beauty and the Beast
Rent from iTunes: Gone With the Wind, Moulin Rouge, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Bringing Up Baby, The King and I, The Lady Eve, The Holiday, You’ve Got Mail, My Man Godfrey, How to Steal a Million, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Parent Trap, When Harry Met Sally, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Just Like Heaven, Leap Year, Penelope, Serendipity, Poldark, The Man From Snowy River, New In Town, Beauty and the Beast.
Rent from YouTube: The Hundred-Foot Journey, The Lady Eve, My Man Godfrey, Just like Heaven, New in Town, Beauty and the Beast
Rent from GooglePlay: Moulin Rouge!, The Hundred-Foot Journey, The Lady Eve, The Parent Trap, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Just Like Heaven, Leap Year, Poldark, The Man From Snowy River, New in Town, Beauty and the Beast
Content Warning: The majority of these films are rated PG or PG-13 and do not feature graphic content. A couple of them are Rated R (When Harry Met Sally, The Thomas Crown Affair)
Quote Credits: IMDB.com
What are some of your favorite onscreen meet-cutes? Are there any meet-cutes on this list you haven’t seen yet?
Featured image at top: You’ve Got Mail/Photo: Warner Bros