Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

There are a few ingredients essential to any successful romantic comedy. First, the characters have to live in an expensive city and have really nice apartments despite working as, like, freelance dog photographers or culture bloggers. Second, their love interest has to be a prickly pseudo-jerk who, if he can just come to realize there’s more to life than running a successful architectural firm, will reveal a hidden, very tender heart. Lastly, that dude, when he looks at his co-star, needs to convey a lifetime of complex emotions through his eyes alone.

Alanna Bennett, zooming in on this last point, has crafted a theory of The Look, extending from romcoms to romantic dramas (or “romdrams”). Starting from the natural jumping-off point of Dawson Creek’s Pacey, Bennett put forth a convincing thesis for the importance of a male actor’s peeper placement.

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Wouldn’t you be surprised to learn that Twitter has latched on to this with the burning passion of of a thousand mid-‘90s Hugh Grants? Keep your heart, Three Stacks, because we’re going deep into romance territory.

For instance, here is a weirdly saturated, Twilight-lookin’ GIF of James McAvoy offering a textbook example of The Look:

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A few more classics include fan favorites like these baby-faced versions of Paul Rudd and Ethan Hawke to everyone’s boyfriend, Colin Firth:

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Of course The Look is not merely the domain of romances from decades past. New entries to the evolving canon include more recent examples, including these, from Tom Hiddleston, André Holland, Armie Hammer, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Take it away, boys:

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The lists go on and on, eyeballs after eyeballs smoldering and winking and melting the inner cores of anyone who looks back in turn. Sadly, though, none so far have managed to include unsung heartthrob Marty Feldman, who has provided cinema with one of its all-time great romances through his relationship with Young Frankenstein’s Gene Wilder. Now there’s a look.

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