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A Half-Dozen Roses: Under-the-Radar Films for Valentine’s Day

Since it’ll be tough to get a dinner reservation tonight, how about curling up beside the fire with a nice romantic movie?

Rather than such standards as “Casablanca” or “When Harry Met Sally,” here are half a dozen lesser-known cinematic roses:

Beautiful Girls (1996) – Ironically titled film is mostly about guys — and worse yet, guys who don’t really understand beauty. Multi-stranded plot has a Manhattan pianist returning to his hometown, where he finds that his lunkheaded high-school chums haven’t grown up; and neither has he.

Terrific cast includes Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Mira Sorvino, Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Rapaport, David Arquette, Annabeth Gish, Noah Emmerich, Martha Plimpton, Uma Thurman and a marvelous young Natalie Portman.

The Big Sick (2017) – Zoe Kazan plays Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani plays himself in this tale of a Caucasian woman and a Middle Eastern man battling their way toward love through numerous obstacles — including his parents, who insist on marriage to a Muslim.

Since we know the pair eventually triumphed — going on to co-write the script for this film — “Big” is hardly a tragedy; but calling it a rom-com, as many critics did, sells short the heartbreak throbbing through so many brilliant scenes.

Co-starring Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily’s parents.

For Heaven’s Sake (1926) – Swift, silly and charming silent comedy starring the great Harold Lloyd; here, his pampered millionaire falls for a woman who works with the homeless in a downtown shelter. Heartfelt and hilarious, with a lovable hero and, despite its slapstick shenanigans, nary a mean or malicious moment.

Running less than an hour, this gem is currently available free on YouTube.

A Little Romance (1979) – From veteran director George Roy Hill (“Butch Cassidy,” “Garp,” “Slaughterhouse-Five”) comes this romance about two young teens — an American girl and a French lad — who find each other in Paris one summer. Since their transcontinental romance seems slightly star-crossed, the two eventually pair up with a dashing older man (Laurence Olivier) for a spur-of-the-moment getaway to Venice.

This was the film that put Diane Lane on the cover of Time magazine, launching a distinguished career that now includes more than 50 films.

She was 13 at the time.

“Six Days, Seven Nights” (1998) – Critics didn’t care for this colorful rom-com starring Harrison Ford and Anne Heche; but my wife and I love it — and now that Heche is gone, perhaps it’s time to take another look.

The actress plays a ditzy career gal marooned on a tropical isle with Ford’s cranky old pilot; here, the pair tangle with modern-day pirates while struggling against romance — because she’s already engaged. Great scenery, a little action, lots of laughs and terrific acting; Ford has rarely been better.

Co-starring David Schwimmer; directed by Ivan Reitman (“Stripes,” “Ghostbusters,” “Meatballs”).

“Stranger Than Fiction” (2006) – Romance is only part of the picture in this metaphysical comedy with a cast for every demographic: Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and Queen Latifah.

Ferrell plays IRS drudge Harold Crick, who finds that his life is being narrated by an outside voice. With the help of Hoffman’s lit professor, he learns that this fate-like figure is actually a contemporary novelist — with a penchant for killing off her protagonists. Yet thanks to a new-found love (Gyllenhaal), the standoffish Crick has awakened to the wonder of life; so he must track down the writer and change her mind.

In an era of franchises, sequels and cheesy retreads, “Fiction” is not like any other movie you have seen.

Now bust out those chocolates and settle down for some cinematic sweetness.