"Remember Paris, Texas? Nastassia Kinski and Harry Dean Stanton are estranged husband and wife, separated by the violent force of their profound passion. It's impossible to imagine—and yet, in the climactic scene, wherein Stanton and Kinski trade Sam Shepard monologues, their love does indeed melt the screen. And they're in separate rooms! She's creamy, he's craggy, and love looks through a glass darkly."
"The very thought of Antonio Banderas (hot, sexy, hot, um, hot) and Tom Hanks (um, not hot) as a couple in Philadelphia made my head hurt. Turns out they were a really cute couple."
"Robin Williams and Peter O'Toole in the '80s movie Club Paradise had some weird chemistry that worked. It wasn't an especially good movie but you can't really begrudge anything that contains so many SCTV vets and Jimmy Cliff."
"Leslie Nielson and Priscilla Presley in The Naked Gun would seem to be utterly incongruous, yet his sight gag humor, timing, and elastic face, and her wooden beauty created a hilarious mix."
"Cher bedding Bob Hoskins in Mermaids and telling him, 'You're very sexy, you know.' This may be a candidate for the 'so odd it works' category, since I bought the connection when I saw the film, and it wasn't because I was rooting for the heavyset bald man to get some 'tang."
"Beatrice Kiddo and Pai Mei in Kill Bill 2. Uma Thurman's sassy beauty and doe-eyed humility against that shock of white hair and soaring white mustache from which Gordon Liu barked orders in strangely hypnotic percussion—those two absolutely lighted up the screen!"
"Jerry Lewis and Faye Dunaway in Arizona Dream."
Wow. I didn't see Arizona Dream. Can anyone corroborate the above? If that pairing works, I might have to rethink my theory of the universe.
Thanks to everyone for the e-mails. May all your disconnects be emotionally resonant.
Update: OK, thanks, I got the picture on Emir Kusturica's Arizona Dreams. I must have been in rehab when it came out in 1993, so I'll check it out in the next month.