An Affair To Remember


(out of 5)

Deborah Kerr plays a woman engaged to be married to a wealthy New York businessman, thwarted on an ocean liner travelling from Europe to the Big Apple when she meets world-class playboy Cary Grant. They fall in love, partly because Kerr is the only woman who doesn’t fall flat on her back when she sees Grant, which to him I suppose signifies a challenge. Unfortunately, Grant is too famous, and so their romance must be kept a secret so that neither of their fiancees find out. Eventually they reach harbour and decide to meet after six months, to see if they really do want to be together. They even pick a romantic meeting spot: the top of the Empire State Building (those of you who are thinking, Wow that’s just like Sleepless In Seattle, well you’re right, but you’ve got it backwards). There’s a sappy, pat happy ending that is all Hollywood and makes me want to throw up (after I dry my eyes, I hate this movie but it always makes me cry). That it’s a remake of Love Affair is one thing, but that it was remade by the same director is quite astonishing to me; his intent was to not only remake the film in colour (disgusting, overly bright colour which was the fashion for CinemaScope romances in those days), but to extend the running time as well. The only part that I really adore (and which is my favourite aspect of any version of this story), is when Grant takes Kerr on a trip to the coast of France to visit his widowed grandmother (Cathleen Nesbitt; Maria Ouspenskaya in the original 1939 version, Katharine Hepburn in the 1994 version where the scene took place on a South sea island instead of France). It’s a testament to Kerr’s profound powers as an actress that she can take a character who could potentially be a complete ninny and make her a vibrant and passionate woman who maintains stately poise without compromising any inner passion. All in all it’s a film so purple it’s scary, but it seems to deserve its status as the most famous romance film from its time. It has all the trappings it needs: tragic story, beautiful actors, full-throated monologues, and not a hint of believability. If you have the patience, grab a Kleenex box and dive on in.

Jerry Wald Productions

USA, 1957

Directed by Leo McCarey

Screenplay by Delmer Daves, Leo McCarey, Donald Ogden Stewart, from a story by Leo McCarey, Mildred Cram

Cinematography by Milton R. Krasner

Academy Award Nominations
Best Cinematography (Milton Krasner)
Best Costume Design (Charles LeMaire)
Best Music (Scoring) (Hugo Friedhofer)
Best Music (Song) (“An Affair To Remember”, music by Harry Warren; lyrics by Harold Adamson, Leo McCarey)

Directors Guild Award Nomination
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Leo McCarey)