Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr have more magic between them than that which is written in their lines. And there is plenty of magic in the lines: She finishes his sentences and he answers before she speaks. An Affair to Remember is a stylized movie typical of its era. The great Italian countryside shots are all produced on a sound set. And Kerr and Grant have a casual relaxation about them that keeps audiences watching year after year after year.
The story is that she, Terry McKay (Kerr), was a nightclub singer who consented to have her expenses paid by a wealthy admirer. Circumstances have gone on in this way for years and now he has proposed marriage. She feels a need to take time away to adjust, so she sets out on a sea voyage alone. Meanwhile, playboy Nickie Ferrante has become engaged and feels the need to take a final solo sea voyage. Terry and Nickie meet, encounter an attractive sort of friction toward each other and, before they know it, are meeting for dinner every night. A bit awkward this because of Nickie’s socialite celebrity status with a well publicized engagement.
When it comes time for Terry and Nickie to part, as New York looms on the horizon and visions of a day spent with Nickie’s grandmother in Italy loom as a cherished memory, they decide—in between finishing each other’s sentences and answering things not yet spoken—to agree that if they each break off their engagements and build productive careers (she as a singer, he as a painter), then they’ll meet at the top of the Empire State Building in exactly six months to pledge their love and devotion to each other. One of the most famous lines in romantic movies comes in relation to the day six months later that Terry runs through traffic to get to the Empire State Building. “I was looking up,” she says.
Nickie is waiting there on the top of the Empire State Building but Terry is lying in a hospital bed with her legs crushed and her ex-fiancee standing loyally and devotedly at her side covering all medical costs. The story doesn’t end until Kerr delivers Terry’s line about looking up and there is not a dry eye in any room in which the movie is played.
Kerr and Grant are perfect and, even though stylized in one of Hollywood’s more “stiff” eras of production taste, the film has reached cult status with some people watching it annually and declaiming it as the best story ever filmed. An Affair to Remember is a perfect rental or DVD gift for the home library or a friend’s movie library. If by some odd chance of fate you have actually not seen An Affair to Remember, you really must. You may not join the cult devotees (personally, I need several years between all that sobbing…) but you will enjoy the witty banter, the charming screen personalities and a human and touching story of two people trying to be better than they have been for the love of each other.
An Affair to Remember (1957)
Loe McCarey – Director
Delmar Davies and Leo McCarey – Screenplay
Cary Grant - Nickie Ferrante
Deborah Kerr - Terry McKay
[An Affair to Remember reviewed from DVD in Reviewer's private collection.]