Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Favorite- An Affair to Remember

Off to a good start here with my Friday Favorite column, I'm on a 2 week streak.  I was hoping I'd be updating during the week with other items, such as my TCM Classic Film Festival recaps from both 2012 and 2013, but! I started a new job this week and waking up at 6 took a lot out of me.  However, it's a part time job, with more time possibly being added as the school year goes on, so I should be able to update a little during the week.  We shall see.

This week's edition of Friday Favorite is a little tribute to 1957's An Affair to Remember.  Starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.  It is a remake of the 1939 movie, Love Affair starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer, both films were written and directed by Leo McCarey.  It was also further remade in 1994 with Annette Benning and Warren Beatty.

 I first saw this film in late October of 2004, which is before my classic film obsession really started.  Classic film didn't get it's claws into me until about 2006, oh! that makes me think I should write a post about my classic film obsession origin story or describe my gateway film.  That'd be a fun post.  But I digress.  I first saw this movie in 2004, I don't appear to have a slightly humorous IM conversation about my initial impression, but I do know that one of the reasons that I probably sought it out was because of the scene in 'Sleepless in Seattle' when Rita Wilson describes the movie and gets all emotional.  My younger self saw that and probably thought, 'I gotta see that.'

 Pretty good advertisement for the movie right?  I guess I have Nora Ephron to thank for the movie suggestion.  I actually just read that Sleepless in Seattle is the cause for a boom in VHS sales of An Affair to Remember, how funny.  So naturally after graduating college I decided to seek it out.  I think what's appealing about this movie is how it begins as a whimsical, silly love story.  The two leads, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr are very natural and flirtatious, while not looking for love (they are both betrothed to others).  And there are a bunch of comical exchanges, such as the dinner scene when Nicky and Terry are trying to convince a boatload of people that they're not having an affair, but it just turns into a vignette of silent comedy.
Nicky diving into the pool, directly into Terry and their subsequent lame attempts to throw the very interested boat passengers off their scent.
But all of the bubbly fun, like the pink champagne, had to come to an end.  A very heart wrenching, very emotional and heavy end.  That doesn't fail to almost always make me cry.  While there are some possibly overly sappy elements, and I could do without the children's chorus, which seems unnecessary, but I guess Terry had to keep busy while she was apart from Nicky, there are also some very sweet and tender moments and exciting chemistry between Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.  I really enjoy all the conversations between Kerr and Grant on the boat, when they're trying to be coy, but they really just end up looking ridiculous.  I also noticed upon my most recent re-watch how completely heartbroken and drained of life Cary Grant's character becomes when he's revisiting his grandmother's villa, if and when my CD/DVD drive feels like working properly I will do my best to screen cap it because it's really well done.  In the meantime look at this!
Updated with a heartbroken Cary Grant Collage:

 Plot Summary:  I feel like most people know the plot through other pop culture references, but here's a very brief summary.  Two people Nicky Ferrante (Grant) and Terry McKay (Kerr) meet on a boat, they flirt and begin to fall in love (only as love can be conveyed in a 1950s movie, with hand grazes and sitting next to each other at a bar).  The man is engaged to another and the woman just couldn't dare.  When they realize they can't live without one another they decide to meet at the top of the Empire State Building in 6 months time so they can get their lives in order before marrying...I don't want to give away anymore.  You'll have to see the movie if you want to know how it ends.

Favorite Witty Exchange:
It takes place while Terry is on a stairwell and Nikki continual circles around it.
Terry: Top of the mornin' to you
Nicky: And the rest of the day to you
Nicky: Now, listen...
Terry: No, no
Nicky: What?
Terry: Keep moving
Nicky: Oh, dear.
Nicky: Wait a minute, don't go away.  Now, have you come to any conclusions yet?
Terry: No. Keep moving
Nicky: Oh, dear.
Terry: I miss you.
Nicky: I miss you too.
Terry: Why don't you telephone more often?
Nicky:  I'll try, but you know.
Nicky: Were you going to say something?
Terry: No, I wasn't going to say anything.
Nicky: Oh, listen, couldn't we at least eat together, you know in your room or my room?
Terry: The news would be all around the ship before we'd had our salad.
Nicky: I know.
Terry: The crew talks too, you know. Do go around the other way.  You're making me dizzy.
Nicky: Be better for me also, I can tell you that.
(Terry continues to walk up the stairs, while Nicky circles and a new set of legs come down the stairs)
 Nicky: Oh, wait a minute darling, uh..
(A different lady appears)
Nicky: Listen darling, I...
(Nicky sees it's not Terry)
Nicky: That's odd, ha, well.

Favorite Supporting Character:  There aren't that many fleshed out supporting characters in this movie due to the central love story being the driving force of the movie, everything else seems peripheral and almost out of focus.  But there are some fun characters on the boat.  In fact there's one man, Mr. Hathaway on the boat who keeps trying to get a word in with the famous Nicky Ferrante, but instead he constantly gets ignored.  It's a cute running joke.  I'll get a screenshot of him too when my optical drive feels like behaving. (Updated with a screenshot)

 After watching the movie for the 100th time I decided to watch some of the special features on the DVD and it includes an interesting featurette, which has some clips of an interview with Deborah Kerr, she admits that many of her and Cary Grant's scenes were improvised, which I think adds to the naturalism and sweetness of their rapport.  There's also some of an interview with Deborah Kerr's daughter who discusses how much they Kerr and Grant enjoyed working together.  One running 'joke' that came out of the improvisations was when they would stop mid-conversation and one would say, 'what?' and the other would respond, 'I thought you were going to say something.'
"winter is cold for those with no warm memories"
There is also a very interesting and informative commentary track for the movie done mostly by a film historian Joseph McBride and a few interjections and stories from Marni Nixon, who I saw at the 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival.  McBride provides information about Leo McCarey and his film career, the film's place in history and points out things like the use of the color orange in the film, which was used to remind the viewer of Deborah Kerr when she isn't in a scene.  And Nixon shares some of her experiences recording the songs sung by Deborah Kerr's character and some anecdotes about working with Deborah Kerr and her experiences.  I really love listening to great commentaries like this for films I know and love. 

I think ultimately the off-screen chemistry between Deborah and Cary really carried over and helped their on-screen chemistry and made it that much more believable.  This film is definitely one of my favorite romances, it has the perfect balance of humor, romance, sappiness and seriousness.  Just like a perfect relationship.  It is also a quintessential Cary Grant movie, he was so good at playing the dashing romantic lead, it's hard not to fall in love with him.  It also has great locations, such as a boat, Nicky's grandmother's villa off the French Riviera and of course New York City.  This movie is definitely worth checking out and isn't just a sappy "chick's movie," even if Tom Hanks believes that.
what a pair!
Alright that does it for week 2 of Friday Favorites, tune in next week for another exciting look at one of my favorites.


  1. I need to watch this movie again! I own a copy but haven't seen it in ages. It was part of my own early interest in classic movie too. Great post Diane! I like your new series.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! It's been really fun to put these together and a good excuse to watch some of my faves :) It's really fun to revisit movies that I hadn't seen for awhile, especially ones I saw before becoming a classic film fanatic so I would definitely recommend re-viewing An Affair to Remember!