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AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (director/writer: Leo McCarey; screenwriter: story by Leo McCarey & Mildred Cram; cinematographer: ; editor: James B. Clark; music: Hugo Friedhofer; cast: Cary Grant (Nickie Ferrante), Deborah Kerr (Terry McKay), Richard Denning (Kenneth Bradley), Neva Patterson (Lois Clarke), Cathleen Nesbitt (Nickie’s Grandmother), Robert Q. Lewis (Announcer); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jerry Wald/Leo McCarey; 20th Century Fox; 1957)
“Not much to remember.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Not much to remember about Leo McCarey’s An Affair to Remember, which is a remake of his smash hit 1939 Love Affair which starred Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne. McCarey’s greatest film was Duck Soup with the Marx Brothers, these two overwrought love stories show he’s capable of turning out middle-brow weepies that are nothing more than a glorified soaper.

This one is a comedy drama about a shipboard romance on a transatlantic voyage (using the USS Constitution) between wealthy playboy Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) and ex-chanteuse Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr ). The same major plot points were lifted by “Sleepless in Seattle.” It was also remade again in 1994 starring Warren Beatty, which was universally declared a bomb. This version uses basically the same script as the original but adds to it a few more comedy lines, music, and Technicolor ‘Scope, with only the latter being an improvement. It’s somewhat entertaining if you buy into what Hollywood considers as a good old-fashioned romantic tale, but it grows wearisome as it resorts to being a contrived tearjerker loaded down with soap opera clichés and sentimentality. Vic Damone sings the title track in the background.

While meeting aboard the cruise ship bound for New York, the would-be lovers make plans for a reunion at the top of the Empire State Building in six months despite being engaged to other people. They do this to test their love and see if things have changed over time. Nickie’s engaged to a wealthy heiress (Neva Patterson), while Terry has a very supportive businessman beau (Richard Denning). Terry plans to attend the reunion, but an accident prevents her from making it. Not knowing this Nickie, who is a show on the 102nd floor, thinks that she either has married or does not love him anymore, and frets that the love of his life has eluded him. We are left wondering if they will ever meet again, and if they meet what will happen.

The bubbly comedy aboard the ship was easy to handle; the pseudo-melodramatics in NYC was not only a mood killer but a film killer. The narrative is a prime example of the shameless manipulations of emotions used by Hollywood to sell its suds.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”