Affair to Remember, An (1957): Leo McCarey’s Inferior Remake of his Superlative 1939 Melodrama, Now Starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr

Leo McCarey remade his own superlative 1939 melodrama, Love Affair, from a screenplay by him and Delmer Daves, based on a Mildred Cram story.

An Affair to Remember
AffairtoRemember.jpg

Grade: B (*** out of *****)

The film stars Cary Grant in the Charles Boyer’s part, and Deborah Kerr taking over the Irene Dunn’s one. 

The secondary cast consists of Richard Denning, and Cathleen Nesbitt.

Inferior Remake

The remake is inferior to the original in several respects, including the leads; acting. Grant as a playboy and Kerr as a singer project more maturity and reserve, but also less charm and spontaneity than the original lovers, Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne.

 
The movie is uneven: In moments, Grant and Kerr’s acting is captivating to watch with moments of delicacy, tenderness and subtlety. In others, their delivery is stale.
This was the second teaming of Grant and Kerr after their 1953 movie, Dream Wife, which both claimed to have enjoyed making. The duo will make one more film together, Grass Is Greener.
 
According to Andrew Sarris, this was the last time that McCarey was able to triumph with his extraordinary brand of emotional voltage over growing formal deficiencies in the narrative structure of his films. 
 
McCarey’s specialized genre was comedy in all of its varieties, from slapstick (“Laurel & Hardy”) to screwball (“The Awful Truth,” his masterpiece) to romantic (“Love Affair”) to Sentimental (The Bells of St. Mary’s)
 
Unlike his peers, say Mamoulian or King Vidor, he was not a technical innovator, and usually conformed to the conventions of classic Hollywood narrative. McCarey’s mise-en-scene relies on the long take (often a two-shot) and idiosyncratic, often spontaneous performances. 
 
The great French director Jean Renoir had said that Leo McCarey was one of best American directors “because he really understood people.” And indeed, above all, he understood actors and inspired them to do their best work. He held that the director’s first duty is not to interfere with his cast, if the cast was chosen right.
 
The movie was shot in Widescreen color by Milton Krasner who was Oscar-nominated, and the title song (especially the Vic-Damoned version) was very popular.
 
Many critics resented the degrading comments about McCarey’s film made by Nora Ephron in her schmaltzy romance, “Sleepless in Seattle.”
 
Stay away from the latest remake, “Love Affair, in 1994,” which Warren Beatty poorly directed with his wife-actress Annette Bening in the Irene Dunne/Deborah Kerr part, and Katharine Hepburn as Beatty’s grandmother in her very last big-screen appearance.
 
Oscar Nominations: 4
 
Cinematography: Milton Krasner
Song: “An Affair to Remember,” music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Harold Adamson and Leo McCarey
Score: Hugo Friedhofer
Costume design: Charles LeMaire
 
Oscar Awards: None
 
Oscar Context:
 
The winner of the Cinematography Oscar was Jack Hildyard for David Lean’s WWII epic “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” 
The title song lost to James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn’s “All the Way,” from “The Joker Is Wild.” 
Orry-Kelly won the costume design award for Cukor’s musical, “Les Girls.”

Credits:

Directed, produced by Leo McCarey
Screenplay by Delmer Daves, Donald Ogden Stewart, McCarey,
Story by McCarey, Mildred Cram
Produced by McCarey, Jerry Wald
Cinematography Milton Krasner
Edited by James B. Clark
Music by Hugo Friedhofer
Color process DeLuxe Color

Production company: Jerry Wald Productions

Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Release date: July 19, 1957

Running time: 115 minutes
Budget $2.1 million
Box office $3.85 million (US/Canada rentals)