It seems like yesterday I went to the movies to see Moonstruck: It was the first time my mom let me go to the movies alone with my friends. Dad dropped us off and picked us up after. I felt so mature and worldly.
Even at the tender age of eleven, I could see and feel the love and romance in practically every scene. I remember watching in awe as Cher transformed from the frumpy Loretta to the sexy woman she didn’t even know existed inside her. On the doorsteps of puberty myself, I remember feeling like I had a first glimpse as to what womanhood could look and feel like. I savored every line and every scene.
And there are so many great romantic scenes in this movie. I could have picked the scene where she meets Ronny in the basement of the bakery. Where she is supposed to ask him to come to her wedding to his brother, Johnny, and put their feud to rest. The sullen, lust-filled stares between them held nothing to the flames from the oven blaring behind Ronny.
Ronny agrees to talk to Loretta in his apartment upstairs. After a passion-filled chat about life and love, Ronny throws the kitchen table, sweeps Loretta off her feet, and repeats he is taking her “to the bed.” After they, um, indeed go to the bed, Loretta hides in the closet and they banter back and forth.
Ronny: You’re trying to make me feel guilty.
Loretta: I’m marrying your brother!
Ronny: All right, I’m guilty. I confess!
Loretta: You’re invited to the wedding! It’s in a few weeks. Why didn’t you do like him and be with your dying mother in Palermo?
Ronny: She didn’t like me.
Loretta: You don’t get along with anybody!
Ronny: What did you do?
Loretta: What did I do?
Ronny: You ruined my life.
Loretta: That’s impossible! It was ruined when I got here! You ruined my life!
Ronny: Oh no I didn’t!
Loretta emerges from the closet, tucking in her blouse.
Loretta: Oh yes, oh yes you did! You’ve got those bad eyes like a gypsy! Why didn’t I see it yesterday! Bad Luck! Is that all I’m ever gonna have? Why didn’t I just pick up a stone and kill myself years and years ago? I’m gonna marry him!
Loretta: Last night never happened, you hear me? I’m gonna marry him anyway and last night never happened, and you and I are gonna take this to our coffins!
Ronny: I can’t do that!
Loretta: Why not?
Ronny: I’m in love with you!
Loretta stares at him in alarm, slaps his face, then studies his face to see the effect of the slap. She is dissatisfied and slaps him again.
Loretta: Snap out of it!
Ronny: I can’t!
Loretta: All right. Then I must never see you again. The bad blood will have to stay there between you and Johnny for all time. You won’t come to the wedding.
Ronny: I’ll come to the wedding.
Loretta: I’m telling you, you can’t.
Ronny: But he wants me to come!
Loretta: But that’s ’cause he don’t know!
Ronny: All right. I will not come. Provided one thing.
Ronny: That you come with me tonight. Once. To the Opera.
Loretta: What are you talking about?
Ronny: I love two things. I love you, and I love the Opera. If I can have the two things that I love together for one night, I will be satisfied to give up the rest of my life.
Ronny: All right. Meet me at the Met.
Super duper knee jerking sigh!
But this is not the most romantic scene for me. It’s the end scene that gives me goose bumps. It isn’t the dialogue, but how Ronny and Loretta cannot take their eyes off of each other. It’s how Loretta’s mother, Rose, played by the feisty Olympia Dukakis, worries at how much her daughter is in love, and that it may ruin her. Remember her banging the table screaming: “Ya gotta love bite on your neck, your life’s goin’ down the toilet!”
A few moments later Johnny, the fiancé, arrives and her whole family is there and so is Ronny.
Loretta: Johnny, I have something to tell you.
Johnny: I have something to tell you. But I must talk to you alone.
Loretta: I have no secrets from my family.
Johnny: Loretta, I can’t marry you.
Johnny: If I marry you my mother will die.
The Old Man laughs a loud sudden laugh, and then subsides.
Loretta: What the hell are you talking about? We’re engaged.
Ronny: Loretta, what are you talking about?
Loretta: I’m talking about a promise. You proposed to me!
Johnny: Because my mother was dying! But now she’s not.
Ronny: You’re forty-two years old, Johnny, and Mama is still running your life.
Johnny: And you are a son who doesn’t love his mother!
Loretta: And you’re a big liar! I’ve got your ring here!
Johnny: I must ask for that back.
Loretta struggles and pulls off the ring.
Loretta: Here! Take your stupid pinky ring. (She throws it at Johnny) Who needs it? The engagement’s off.
Johnny retrieves the ring.
Johnny: In time, you will see that this is the best thing.
Loretta: In time, you will drop dead, and I will come to your funeral in a red dress.
Ronny: Will you marry me?
Loretta: Where’s the ring?
Ronny looks to Johnny a little sheepishly.
Ronny: Could I ah…borrow that ring?
Johnny, in shock, hands it over to Ronny.
He kneels down before Loretta. He presents the ring to her.
Ronny: Will you marry me, Loretta Castorini Clark?
Loretta: Before all these people, yes, I will marry you, Ronny Cammareri!
She takes the ring. Ronny and Loretta kiss.
Rose: Do you love him, Loretta?
Loretta: Yeah, Ma, I love him awful.
Rose: Oh God, that’s too bad.
Sigh! The comedy, the confusion as all the story lines coming together, the love… this scene is my favorite. It makes you laugh, tear up, and it leaves you wishing you came from a quirky Italian family from Brooklyn.
I left the movie theater that night, desperately looking for a can to kick, like Cher. There wasn’t one so I pretended and twirled around the parking lot, wondering what my future love life would be and would I love someone “awful.” All these years later, I do. Sigh.