An Affair To Remember (1957)

Author: Dr. Mandar

An Affair To Remember
Year: 1957
Director: Leo McCarey
Cast: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr

It’s Christmas Eve. A man walks in a woman’s apartment. She is lying down on a sofa, her paralyzed legs covered under a blanket. The man, unaware of her predicament, starts venting his anger through acerbic reminiscences. He reminds her how one year ago they were supposed to meet atop New York’s Empire State building to exchange marriage vows. He even slyly leads her to lie about being there and waiting for him! He has no idea what trauma she has endured. Lying there on the sofa, the woman puts up with this emotional torture- still very much in love but too proud to reveal her handicap. Then the man tells her that he is now going away for good. As a parting shot he starts telling her about his best painting and how he advised his friend to give it off to a poor woman, who seemed to be too enamoured by in it. But then suddenly it hits him. The dots connect. The peculiar description that his friend made of the woman who took away the painting; the woman he is leaving forever; the woman now lying on the sofa, unable to lift herself to come and wish him a goodbye . He rushes inside – sees his painting hanging on her bedroom wall. He comes out and looks at her. She says tearfully, “Oh darling, don’t look at me like that”!
 
This final scene from An Affair To Remember is one great piece of cinema. For me, this one scene alone is sufficient to call this film a classic. The great Grant with his cutting sarcasm;  the marvelous Kerr with her dignified stoicism;  the drama surrounding that confrontation and the final lump-in-the-throat realization of love.  It is so beautifully portrayed!
 
An Affair To Remember- (Director McCarey’s reworking of his 1937 film Love Affair), is a typically 50s romantic tale of two unlikely people falling in love; getting pulled apart by fate and then coming together to live happily forever.  On the decks of an ocean-liner Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) meets Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr). He is a famous playboy; she is an ex-night-club- singer. He is going off to marry a rich heiress; she is seeing a kind tycoon. Despite her best efforts to keep herself away from his charms, she falls for him and when he sees her genuine simplicity, he also realizes that he is in love. Just before the boat reaches its destination, they decide that exactly after six months, if they still feel the same way about each other, then they would meet at the top of the Empire State building to exchange marriage vows. But then a tragic accident changes everything along the way!
 
Presence and performance of the tall, dark and handsome Grant and the quietly radiant Deborah Kerr turn this rather patchy and at times tedious movie into an endearing romantic saga. Their sparkling chemistry and the above-mentioned final scene are the abiding memories of this film.
 
Voted at No.5 as the all- time favourite Hollywood romances, An Affair To Remember is the highest ranked romantic film where the lovers finally end up together! Its eternal appeal can be gauged by the number of Hollywood (Sleepless in Seattle) and Bollywood films (Mann) inspired by it.

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