Saturday January 30, 2010 17:46

Movie #0010 – An Affair to Remember (1957)

Posted by Michael

Directed by: Leo McCarey
Starring: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Cathleen Nesbitt
First Viewing

Synopsis: A notorious playboy, engaged to be married, meets a woman (also engaged) on a European cruise. They fall in love, and make a plan to reunite six months later at the top of the Empire State Building.

Well, this is movie number ten, which means that I’m just about one percent done with the list — only 991 movies to go! At this rate, I should be done in around eight years or so (just the movies, of course; the books are going to take much, much longer than that).

If you were to make a list of, say, the top ten Hollywood movie stars of all time, Cary Grant would have to be on top, or very close to it. He just epitomizes the classic Hollywood movie star in so many ways, and along with people like Clark Gable and James Stewart, is one of the benchmarks by which most stars are measured. And with good reason, too — though he essentially played a variation on his established persona in pretty much every movie he made, he was so darn good at it, and so charming, that it really didn’t matter.

So it goes without saying that Grant was quite good in this film; his co-star, Deborah Kerr, was just as good, and the two have palpable on-screen chemistry (which is probably one of the reasons why this movie has endured so strongly over the years).

I definitely liked this movie, though there are a couple of things that irked me about it — the main thing being the absurd amount of time that the couple spends apart (essentially the entire second half of the almost two hour film). Now, I think we’re all aware of the unwritten rule of romantic movies — there will always be a part towards the end of the film in which the couple breaks up, usually due to an unfortunate misunderstanding. We as the audience know that the couple will get back together, but we put up with this because there is something inherently satisfying about seeing two people who love each other overcome the odds and find happiness, and because pretty much every movie (and broadly speaking, every story) must contain some sort of conflict for the characters to overcome. However, there is a reason why this section of the film generally lasts about five or ten minutes — since we know for a fact that the couple is going to get back together, there’s not so much interest in seeing the couple apart; the real interest is in seeing them reunite. So, almost one hour of this? A bit much.

The other thing that bothers me about the latter half of the movie is the flimsy (and downright illogical) reasoning that’s keeping the couple broken up. In the film, Kerr’s character is struck by a car on the way to their six month reunion, rendering her unable to walk. She elects to keep this a secret from Grant because she doesn’t want his pity, and because she doesn’t want him to have to take care of her. In the meantime, Grant simply thinks that she didn’t care enough to show up, and is, of course, heartbroken. I find the fact that anyone would be insensitive enough to make that particular decision (or stupid enough to not realize how insensitive it is) a bit tough to swallow, putting it mildly.

Despite all that, I still enjoyed this film — thanks mostly to Grant and Kerr. The first half was definitely better than the second, but I was never bored, and… well, the ending kind of got to me (uh, I mean, I bit into a pepper).

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