An Affair to Remember (1957)

An Affair to Remember (1957)


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

Reaction & Thoughts:

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 movie 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 B&W while the remake was filmed in glorious CinemaScope-color, by Milton R. Krasner (All About Eve and Three Coins in the Fountain). Also, the 1957 film fleshes out the supporting characters. For me, at least, the actors tip the scales in favor of An Affair to Remember; I just simply like Grant-Kerr more than I like Boyer-Dunne.

Grant and Kerr are more beautiful and elegant than any human being ought to be. And they have extraordinarily good chemistry. It was the second, and best, of the three films they made together (Dream Wife and The Grass Is Greener are the other two). They were good friends in real life and that may explain why they always seem at ease with each other — it’s so much fun to see them tease each other.

Like the original, the best scenes are aboard the ocean liner. The repartee between Grant and Kerr makes this section of 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. The second half never quite recaptures the magic of the first half, but the last scene is so good — McCarey’s timing, Grant’s acting — that you won’t hold it against the film.

Truth be told, I didn’t care much for the scenes with the orphans. 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 in my opinion, should have been eliminated for the remake.

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

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Anyhow, 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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