Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1939. RKO Radio Pictures. Story by Leo McCarey, Mildred Cram, Screenplay by Delmer Daves, Donald Ogden Stewart. Cinematography by Rudolph Mate. Produced by Leo McCarey. Music by Roy Webb. Production Design by Van Nest Polglase. Costume Design by Howard Greer, Edward Stevenson. Film Editing by Edward Dmytryk, George Hively. Academy Awards 1939.
Charles Boyer is a famous playboy on an ocean liner, bound for New York where he will be married to the woman who finally managed to destroy his happy bachelorhood. Irene Dunne is a beautiful singer who is also on her way to her fiancé, which spells trouble when she and Boyer meet and sparks immediately fly. They want to spend time together but have to avoid being photographed or gossiped about, then when they arrive in New York City set each other a challenge: in six months, if they still feel the same way about each other, they will meet at the top of the Empire State Building. Leo McCarey would later remake this exercise in corniness as the far more popular An Affair To Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, extending the plot by half an hour and, as we see here, unnecessarily so. The sequence involving visiting his grandmother (here played by Maria Ouspenskaya) is the most endearing part in both, while the simpler plotting makes this one come off a bit more honest and benefits from Dunne’s delicious wise-cracking.