I’ve liked a lot of songs at different times of my life, but my favourite of all time is ‘A Certain Smile’ by Johnny Mathis. It comes from the film of the same name which was based on Francoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse.
The film is about a young French student who falls in love with an older (married) man, but in the end has to accept that he doesn’t love her. The older man, Luc, is played by Rossano Brazzi, who certainly has a wonderful ‘certain smile’ (remember him as Emile de Becque in 'South Pacific'?)
The song is both romantic and bittersweet – the beginning of love with ‘a certain smile, a certain face, can lead an unsuspecting heart on a merry chase’ – leading to ‘you love awhile, and when love goes, you try to hide the tears inside with a cheerful pose' – but ‘in the hush of night, like a bittersweet refrain, comes that certain smile to haunt your heart again.’
I first saw the film and heard the song when I was in my teens, and it has remained a ‘special’ song for me ever since. I can’t really define why, but now, as a romance author, I find my heroines invariably go through this kind of experience. However, for them, everything eventually works out happily!
Here's the clip from the original film when Johnny Mathis first sang it: