An Affair to Remember (1957)
I think the only applicable words to say after finishing "An Affair to Remember" are "Thank God that's over!". Seriously, what a horrid and insipid story, riding on the back of melodrama! Just fair warning, as I sit and ponder my genuine reaction to the film I find my anger growing...so heads up for that.
Let's get the good stuff out of the way first. There are very stellar moments in "An Affair to Remember". These are pulled off nonchalantly, talent flowing in the scenes. Some of them involve a simple conversation while a band sings "Auld Lang Syne" or the reflection of the Empire State Building in a door, giving us some foreshadowing. Yes, there are good moments contained here.
But that's why I hate the film all the more. You have everything going for you: the director, the actor, the actress, the budget, the studio...how do you mess this up?
I'll tell you, no body thought long and hard about this movie...they should have.
Hollywood was no stranger to controversy at the point in time when "An Affair to Remember" came along. This is nothing terrible audacious as far as how adult the story is. By the title itself, we expect an affair; yet here I was very much disappointed because I expected more affairing! (it's not a word, but it totally should be).
So Nickie (Cary Grant) and Terry (Deborah Kerr) meet on a boat. They are both voyaging from a state of loneliness towards their respective loved ones. Nickie has a reputation that precedes him. In fact, in the opening montage of the movie, reporters talk about how this famous ladies' man is now going to settle down with a very rich heiress. En route to matrimony, Nickie couldn't care less about his prior engagement.
He flirts with everyone he can, though being a man of simple and disgustingly materialistic pleasures, he doesn't want to pursue anyone because he doesn't think any of the women on the boat are that pretty.
Enter Terry, who by some miraculous plot device has discovered the man's cigarette case. Perhaps it was just lying out on the deck and she picked it up, or maybe it fell out of his pocket, or maybe aliens abducted them both and upon returning the earthlings to their home planet, spat the cigarette case out like a wet loogie. Splat. It lands on the ship and Terry plucks it up. I'm most inclined to believe the alien thing, but since it's not in the movie, we'll never know.
Anyways, that's how they meet. He asks for his case back and she...well...she flirts with him and then asks surprised when he makes an advance on her. Oh, not me, I'm not that kind of girl. I'm a good, proper she-person. No one believes her.
Not only does the film make the commentary that a cheating man is acceptable while a cheating woman is a slut—the thought of the day isn't contained in this film alone—it also goes on to say that a woman in love is an irrational, incapable mass of flesh and lastly, a conniver.
So they chat for a while and the gossip on the ship is on everyone's lips. They remark on Nickie's latest ventures. Because he was so infamous for being a man of the bed linen, Terry's appearance with him can only mean one thing...gasp!
But Terry is a good, proper she-person and she will not stand around and let these idle rumors ruin her life. She tells Nickie that they cannot be seen again in public. Then...Nickie offers to take her ashore and introduce her to his grandmother. Wow! Hot!
Trip to grandma turns out to be one of the weirdest moments in film history. Grandma Janou (Cathleen Nesbitt) turns out to speak wonderful English and her foreign accent fades away from scene to scene. These moments are terrible sentimental and I just didn't get why Grandma Janou got so teary over a piano song...oh well.
Turns out that Nickie is a wonderful painter...yeah, that just kind of gets thrown in there. He is a true artist, but so critical of his own work that he can't be successful. This, plus he likes bedding all the rich she-persons.
Terry is now incredibly turned on by Nickie because nothing is a better aphrodisiac than an oil painting and a grandmother. She begins to appreciate that she might be in love with Nickie. Alas, they both know that they are on a doomed voyage of love. They will have to be pulled apart at the end of the journey. They make a pact to meet after six months on the Empire State Building and see if they still love each other.
In the meantime, they both make preparations as if the other person was acting the same way. Nickie tries to sever his relationship with his fiance as does Terry. Seriously, these people are idiots.
They both want to get jobs to see if they survive the anti-socialite scene. Nickie paints and Terry sings and of course they both make money from this extremely competitive and virtually impossible niche in society.
Perhaps the most offensive part of "An Affair to Remember" is how stupid it assumes that its audience is. Leo McCarey has made some good movies like "Duck Soup". Then again he made some so-so flicks like "Going My Way". With "An Affair to Remember" he hits the bullseye for a line taken from Ian Malcolm's character from "Jurassic Park".
Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, we get musical numbers from a children's choir...great, lovely, wonderful, there's got to be a good drinking game in here somewhere.
Posted by Micah Jones