An Affair to Remember (1957)

Synopsis:

Despite being engaged to be married to other people, debonair chick-magnet Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant, North by Northwest) and ex-singer Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr, The End of the Affair) fall in love during a transatlantic trip. They agree to meet again in six months at the Empire State Building in New York City to decide whether or not they want to pursue a serious relationship, but fate intervenes.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“There must be something between us…”

Classic tearjerker is better than I remembered. It is, of course, a remake of the 1939 weepy Love Affair, starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer (Leo McCarey, Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s, directed both movies).

Which version is better? It’s really a close call because this is a scene-for-scene retelling. The main difference is that the original was shot in black and white while the remake was filmed in glorious CinemaScope-color by Oscar-winning cameraman Milton R. Krasner (Three Coins in the Fountain and How the West Was Won).

In addition to that, unlike Love Affair, An Affair to Remember makes a bigger effort to flesh out the supporting characters. All differences aside, for my money, the leading actors tip the scales in favor of An Affair to Remember: I simply like the Grant-Kerr combo more than I like the Boyer-Dunne duo. Grant and Kerr have extraordinarily good chemistry — it’s so much fun to see them tease each other.

The film’s best scenes are aboard the ocean liner. The repartee between Grant and Kerr makes this section of the film really funny. I also liked the scenes at the beautiful French villa — well, a great soundstage that resembles a villa. Cathleen Nesbitt (The Haunting of Julia) is wonderful as Grant’s French grandmother.

An Affair to Remember loses steam during the second half. The (completely unnecessary) scenes with the orphans were too corny for my taste. The children are a bit obnoxious and add very little to the story’s arc. That’s something that was carried over from the original and should have been eliminated for the remake.

However, the last scenes are so good — director McCarey’s timing, the fine writing, Grant and Kerr’s acting, music, etc. — that you will immediately forget and forgive the film’s few imperfections. The finale, while a little predictable, especially if you’ve seen Love Affair, is genuinely touching and very romantic.

The cast also includes Richard Denning (Creature from the Black Lagoon), Charles Watts (Billy Rose’s Jumbo), Neva Patterson (The Solid Gold Cadillac) and Fortunio Bonanova (For Whom the Bell Tolls). The great Marni Nixon once again dubbed Kerr’s singing voice (Nixon also dubbed Kerr in The King and I).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Nora Ephron’s Sleepless in Seattle (1993) is a great demonstration of the film’s enduring appeal (if you’ve seen it you know what I’m talking about). Romantics at heart will find lots of things to love about An Affair to Remember. The Christmas Day ending makes it a great holiday film. Remade, yet again, in 1994 (with Warren Beatty, Annette Bening and Katharine Hepburn). Color, 115 minutes, Not Rated.

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