An Affair To Remember: 50th Anniversary Edition (Fox, 1957) D: Leo McCarey, w/ Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr. Rating: NNNN; DVD package: NNNN
An Affair To Remember stands as one of the all time great romantic comedies, alongside Annie Hall (1977), When Harry Met Sally (1989), The Philadelphia Story (1940) and Bringing Up Baby (1938). Those latter two star Cary Grant. So does An Affair To Remember, and that’s its first claim to greatness.
Grant was and remains the screen’s best romantic leading man - sophisticated and charming, with a nice underlay of vulnerability and strength of character. While he has a remarkable way with dialogue, much of Grant’s charm comes from his great physical control, a legacy of his youth in pantomime and acrobatic comedy.
Deborah Kerr, his partner in a casual shipboard romance that turns serious, then tragic in the wake of a disastrous accident, perfectly complements Grant’s lightness with a persona that foregrounds depth of emotion and a quiet spirituality. Together, they give their scenes a wealth of subtext.
Veteran comedy director Leo McCarey sets his stars in tasteful Hollywood elegance, and his own understated wit shines through in things not seen and not said. Only the children’s choir numbers in the second half stumble from touching to cloying.
The commentary and related background docs do a good job on McCarey’s style and the movie’s history, and Grant and Kerr receive brief, touching tributes from their surviving spouses.
EXTRAS Disc one: historian Joseph McBride and singer Marni Nixon commentary. Widescreen. English, French, Spanish audio; English, Spanish subtitles. Disc two: Grant and Kerr recalled by surviving spouses, McCarey and producer Jerry Wald bios, visuals and retrospective making-of docs, more. Widescreen.