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The top 10 hankie fests

Not every chick flick has all these elements. In fact, most of them have just a couple. But with that in mind, at least one of the following attributes must be present in order for a flick to be designated "chick":

Terminal illness _ Usually mom or an apple-cheeked daughter is dying, and it helps if they're progressively more beautiful as they do.

Failed romance _ "There's not a lot of mileage in a love story if all goes smoothly," says Toby Miller, a film professor at New York University.

Wistful disappointment _ What could be more wistfully disappointing than Ghost, in which Patrick Swayze comes back from the dead to romance his wife, Demi Moore, and then leaves again?


10. The Way We Were _ A failed romance, wistful disappointment _ and a Barbra Streisand song.

9. Waiting to Exhale _ Lots of failed romances, plenty of women against the world _ and a Whitney Houston song doesn't hurt, either.

8. Sleepless in Seattle _ Wistful disappointments galore, happy ending notwithstanding.

7. Beaches _ Women against the world, a terminal illness _ and a Bette Midler song doesn't hurt, either.

6. Four Weddings and a Funeral _ Just dare a man's man to sit through this. Just dare him.

5. Steel Magnolias _ Women against the world, family focus, terminal illness, failed romance _ all in cute Southern accents.

4. Little Women _ Women against the world, family focus, a failed romance (or two), a terminal illness, and a couple of cute boys thrown in for good measure.

3. Thelma and Louise _ A groundbreaking women-against-the-world chick flick. A classic example of the quest movie in which feelings count more than resolution.

2. Ghost _ Ditto Four Weddings and a Funeral.

1. Terms of Endearment _ A chick-flick jackpot. All the essential elements.

Bergen (N.J.) Record