An Affair to Remember (Leo McCarey, 1957): USA
Reviewed by: Collier Grimm. Viewed on DVD.
If you’re searching for a classic love story to share with your Valentine, look no further than Leo McCarey’s, An Affair to Remember, which has been deemed one of the most romantic films of all time by The American Film Institute. The film is a remake of the 1939, Love Affair, but was re-worked into one of the most heart-wrenching love affairs to date.
As the film opens, the audience learns that world famous playboy, Nicky Ferrante (Cary Grant), will soon be off the market. He is boarding a cruise ship headed for New York where he will meet his fiancé and be married. While on board, Ferrante tries to persuade a rather prude passenger, Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr), to sleep with him. Of course the audience must deduce that this is happening through the witty dialogue by Delmer Daves and McCarey. Code regulations of the time would have never allowed Ferrante to so blatantly request sexual relations out of wedlock. Instead the audience must “read between the lines.” Translation: kissing shots that dissolve into scenes where both are smoking heavily equal…sex.
Although Ferrante is unsuccessful in seducing McKay, the two start to fall in love while aboard the lengthy cruise to New York City. The two are both in relationships back in New York, but realize that they would be fools to let the real thing pass them by. However, Ferrante doesn’t have any real source of income and decides he must find a job before the two can be married. With the hopes for finding a job, and letting their not-so-significant others down, the pair decides to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building.
However, in a devastating turn of events, something prevents them from meeting, and both are too proud to contact one another and find out what has happened. Is true love lost, or will cupid find a way to make their affair one to remember?
An Affair to Remember has been referenced in dozens of films, most famously in Nora Ephron’s, Sleepless in Seattle. The plot in “Affair” is re-visited by Meg Ryan and Rosie O’Donnell as they plan a meeting place, the Empire State Building, for Ryan and Tom Hanks. While weeping and hugging, O’Donnell and Ryan lip sync Kerr’s most melodramatic and memorable line from “Affair,” in a truly Eprhon-esque scene:
“Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories, we’ve already lost the spring!”
Several other characters reference “Affair” throughout the film, most memorably when Rita Wilson breaks down at the dinner table while illuminating her husband and Hanks on the magic of love between Kerr and Grant. It’s one of the funniest moments in cinema.
“Affair”, is one of the most classic and memorable films of all time. The film’s theme song, sung by Vic Damone, will have you and yours all choked up as Kerr and Grant reveal the power of onscreen chemistry. There are a couple of charming musical numbers, lots of cigarette smoking, and a uniqueness to the film that has never been replicated. My one complaint is that Kerr, a red head, is dressed in several orange gowns that do nothing for her. However, Grant’s costuming is dashing, as always, and his glistening tan will have many hearts a thumping. Get some chocolates, a date or a buddy, and pink champagne to toast, “a love affair to remember.”