An Affair to Remember

Talkie of the Week: An Affair to Remember

USA 1957, 110 minutes, color, 20th Century Fox. Director: Leo McCarey, Screenplay: Delmer Daves and Leo McCarey, Story by: Leo McCarey and Mildred Cram. Cast: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning, Neva Patterson, Cathleen Nesbitt

Plot summary: On a cruise from Europe to New York, infamous playboy Nickie Ferrante meets Terry McKay and falls in love with her mildly abrasive charm. The couple, though otherwise engaged, has an affair to remember until they reach their destination and vow to meet again, six months later, at the top of the Empire State Building.

Review: An Affair to Remember is a classic. Warren Beatty remade it with wife Annette Benning and Sleepless in Seattle refers to it all the way through. There is something about the combination of Hollywood legends Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, the heart-wrenching storyline they know to sell. The music, the colors, the wardrobe. Take your pick. This movie is a composition of romantic chic.

Cary Grant is beautifully cast as infamous playboy Nickie Ferrante, newly engaged to a rich heiress, who is used to wrapping women around his finger wherever he goes. Deborah Kerr gives an equally expert performance as Terry McKay, a former singer who is now engaged to a wealthy entrepreneur. Together, they spark the screen with a tale about falling in love outside of existing relationships. That story alone is probably as old as humanity itself, but the film depicts it without the now common celebration of infidelity and juicy sex. The film is from 1957 and thus lingers on emotions, yearning and eschewal, a perfect setup for the tragic twist.

An Affair to Remember is a love story, pure and simple, with a dash of sentimental music and Southern French flair. Most memorable for me are the scenes with Nickie’s grandma – probably for personal reasons, but Cathleen Nesbitt is such a darling (as Nickie calls her), I truly cannot imagine anyone not falling in love with her. And then there is the end, poignant and richly emotional. You better invest in boxes of tissues because there is no way I’m not going to recommend this movie to you.

Available on DVD and VHS.

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