Thursday, September 21, 2023

Cary & Deborah: An Affair to Remember

The 1957 film “An Affair to Remember” is a guilty pleasure of mine. Sentimental, old-fashioned, and obviously shot within the walls of a Hollywood soundstage, it still gives the tear ducts a workout every time I watch it.

Thanks to the chemistry and witty repartee between Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, the film somehow rises above its hard-to-believe premise. Nickie (Grant) and Terry (Kerr) meet aboard a cruise ship, on the way to New York City to be reunited with their partners. Whether in the black and white still above or the screenshot below, it is impossible to be fooled into thinking that this movie was shot on location. The perfect lighting of the leads (never a shadow to spoil their faces) is further evidence of this.

Neither of the leads is truly in love with their mates, yet there are sparks of passion between Nickie & Terry. Aboard the ship, it’s all about flirtation, romance, and comic banter as the two attempt to avoid the gossip of other passengers while exploring what might exist between them.

The story becomes more dramatic once the two depart the ship near the French Riviera for a brief (but pivotal) visit with Nickie’s beloved grandmother (Cathleen Nesbitt). Granny sees that the two are destined to be together and imparts sage advice to both.

With a promise to reunite in six months (enough time for both to “clear house”) at the Empire State Building, tragedy keeps them apart and the audience is left without the humor that permeated the first half of the movie.

The final scene redeems the film, and the highly predictable plot and trite dialogue could only be pulled off by pros like Grant and Kerr. Apparently Ingrid Bergman was the original choice by director Leo McCarey, as he figured the duo from Hitchcock’s “Notorious” team could score him a hit, too. I’m glad she turned the film down, as Kerr is perfection.

See more Classic Movie & TV photos at my main website.

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