Inspired by a project he worked on in art class last year, my oldest has convinced us to try to watch the 100 Best Movies of All Time this summer. Of course, it’s ended up as more like 115 movies since there is more than one list of the top 100. Last night we watched Bringing Up Baby, one of my all-time favorites. It’s been many years since I last watched it, and I had forgotten how awesome the meet cute is. If you’re not familiar with the term, a meet cute is a plot device that sets up the first meeting of the hero and heroine in a movie or book. Here are some of my favorite movie meet cutes:
In Bringing Up Baby, Susan (Katharine Hepburn) accidentally steals David’s (Cary Grant) golf ball and then his car.
In Ever After, Danielle (Drew Barrymore) pelts the prince (Dougray Scott) with apples because she thinks he is stealing her horse.
It Happened One Night pits heiress Ellie (Claudette Colbert) against ex-reporter Peter (Clark Gable) in a fight for the last seat on a bus.
In Wimbledon, Peter (Paul Bettany) is given the wrong hotel room when checking in for the tournament and he walks into Lizzie’s (Kristen Dunst) room.
In Singin’ in the Rain, Don (Gene Kelly) runs through the street trying to escape from his fans. He jumps onto the tops of cars, and he accidentally lands in Kathy’s (Debbie Reynolds) convertible.
Fools Rush In: Alex (Matthew Perry) is in a restaurant waiting in a long line for the bathroom when Isabel (Salma Hayek) cuts in front of him.
Charlotte studied the man standing next to Elizabeth. Something about him instantly drew her to him, something in his confident bearing and the way a mischievous smile played across his lips. Laughter danced in his eyes.
Elizabeth smiled brightly. “Lord Marley, may I present Miss Charlotte Lightwood.” She gestured to Charlotte. “Charlotte, this is Lord Marley.”
Lord Marley took her hand, sending an unfamiliar sensation buzzing through her. They both froze for an instant before he bowed. “It is a pleasure to meet you. Lady Lightwood has assured me you are available for the next dance. Please soothe my nerves by confirming she is not mistaken.”
Elizabeth nudged her, and in a whisper that could surely be heard on the other side of the ballroom, said, “Lord Marley is one of the most eligible bachelors on the market this season. He requested the introduction, though I can’t imagine why.”
Heat rushed to her cheeks. “I am not engaged, my lord.” She surreptitiously glanced around them to see if anyone had heard Elizabeth.
Lord Marley clenched his jaw before leading her onto the dance floor. When the warmth of his touch penetrated the fabric of her gown, she inhaled the scent of sandalwood with a hint of citrus, and her pulse thrummed. She couldn’t prevent herself from flashing him a smile. The noise of the ballroom faded into a harmonious cacophony as they settled into the waltz.
Overly wealthy, overly charming, overly good-looking, he could have any woman he desired. As she lacked both title and dowry, she could think of no reason why Lord Marley would have any interest in her. She narrowed her eyes.
Lord Marley nodded to the couples surrounding them, but when he met her gaze, his serene countenance disappeared. “Why do you look at me with such abhorrence? I assure you I have no nefarious designs upon your person.”
“I’m certain you have no designs, nefarious or otherwise, upon my person.”
He smiled widely, but made no response.
She lifted her brows. “Which begs the question, my lord, why did you request to dance with me?”
He deftly swung her away from a collision with an encroaching couple. “Miss Lightwood, you are one of the most beautiful and sought-after ladies in attendance. I merely seek my turn to be the object of your attention. You must stop frowning at me or everyone shall think I’ve said something inappropriate.” His knee brushed against her leg through the thin silk of her gown, and the intimate touch sent a shiver through her.
Though she couldn’t discern what he might want from her, she knew she couldn’t afford to alienate one of the richest and most powerful men in London. She softened her expression and immediately became lost in his clear blue eyes.
His gaze captured and held hers for several heartbeats before he cleared his throat and spoke again. “I have a proposition for you.”
Her breath caught in her throat. She couldn’t fathom anything he might offer that would be proper for her to accept.
“I thought perhaps we could be of assistance to one another.” He studied her face as if waiting for a response.
Charlotte swallowed. “Please continue.”
“I have heard that you are coming out under less than ideal conditions.” He inclined his head, and she nodded in agreement. Less than ideal was certainly one way to put it. “I propose to show you my favor, which will attract the attention of other suitors.”
She stiffened. “They will think you are courting me.”
His smile widened. “Exactly, and they will view you as a potential match because of my regard.”
An image of Horace popped into her head. “I agree to your proposition.” She held her breath, hoping her quick response hadn’t made her appear desperate.
Lord Marley laughed, a sound as crisp and refreshing as the first autumn breeze. “Wait. I haven’t finished yet.”
Her stomach dropped, and she took a deep, steadying breath. “Of course there’s more. What do you expect from me in return?”
“You needn’t look at me with trepidation. I saw you speaking with Princess Tarasova earlier, and thought you might be willing to assist me with my plans to court her.”
His words left an indelible gash on her heart. Of course he couldn’t actually court her, and the princess was an obvious choice for him, but it still hurt to hear him say it so pragmatically. “What, precisely, do you expect me to do?”
He shrugged. “Give me some insight into her, what she likes and dislikes. Provide me with the type of information that will assist me in winning her hand. Information that other suitors won’t have.”
She studied him before responding. She would be foolish to refuse him, but she felt a pang of guilt over feeding him information about the princess, the only person who had made any attempt to show her friendship since she’d arrived in London. In fact, if it hadn’t been for her kindness, Charlotte would have run from the ball after those girls made such disparaging remarks about her. On the other hand, Lord Marley’s attention would attract the notice of other men and could be her only chance to avoid having to marry Horace. “I believe I shall need more time to consider your proposition.”
“Naturally,” he agreed.
The music had stopped, and they were the only ones still standing on the dance floor. Lord Marley took a step back from her, tucking her arm through his and escorting her to Elizabeth.
“Until we meet again, Miss Lightwood.” He bowed and kissed her hand. Excitement fluttered in her stomach.
The moment he left her side, three other gentlemen approached Elizabeth for an introduction. After more than an hour of nonstop dancing, Charlotte had to acknowledge that Lord Marley’s plan could work.
If you enjoyed Charlotte and Sebastian’s meet cute, find out what happens next. You know you want to!
What’s your favorite movie or book meet cute?