02/10/2009 11:37 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

An Offbeat List of Romantic Movies to Rent for Valentine's Day

It happens every Valentine's Day: Someone publishes a list of romantic movies to rent for the perfect Valentine's date.

Round up the usual suspects, as Claude Rains says in perennial list-topper, Casablanca.

These days, if you plug the words "romantic movies" into any search engine, you can generate endless lists of titles - most of which have the same movies jockeying for position: Sleepless in Seattle, Titanic, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally. Worthy films, to be sure, if a tad clichéd - and popular enough that most of them will be checked out by the time you get to the video store, or will be hard to come by on any sort of timetable if you're listing them on your Netflix queue.

So here's a brief alternative list: an offbeat six-pack of movies that pack a potent romantic wallop, but which don't immediately spring to mind when you say the words "date movie." Try one on for size this Valentine's Day:

1. Eyewitness (1981): A Manhattan janitor makes himself a target for a killer by claiming to have information about a murder - in order to get closer to the TV reporter who's covering the story. William Hurt plays the janitor, Sigourney Weaver is the reporter, in a movie from before they were major stars. They create heat through personal chemistry, thanks to a smart, understated script by the late Steve Tesich.

2. The Terminator (1984): "I came through time for you," Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) tells Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), in a dazzling romantic moment - which, of course, is sandwiched between startlingly tense chase sequences as they flee the seemingly unstoppable Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, I know - strictly speaking, it's not a romantic movie. But the movie itself is an action classic, and it's hard to ignore the sweeping sentiment when the two of them finally have a few minutes of alone time.

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