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An Affair to Remember(1957)
Two people meet on a luxury liner and fall in love, but because they have other lovers waiting for them, they cannot consummate their passion. They vow to find each other again, and if the feelings are mutual, they will be together. But, when a tragedy strikes, it could affect their love.
For more about An Affair to Remember and the An Affair to Remember Blu-ray release, see An Affair to Remember Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on February 7, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning, Neva Patterson, Cathleen Nesbitt, Robert Q. Lewis
Director: Leo McCarey
» See full cast & crew
An Affair to Remember Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, February 7, 2011
Valentine's Day chocolates? Check. Tissue box? Check. Snuggly blanket? Check. Soft-shouldered cuddle partner? Check. Wholesale suspension of disbelief and a general willingness to give oneself over to weepy melodrama? Uh…check. Now you're ready to watch An Affair to Remember, the 1957 film considered by many to be one of these most romantic movies of all time. Chick-flick fanatics and rom-com connoisseurs will recall this tearjerker and heartstring-tugger for the pivotal role it played in Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle, which was not only directly inspired by An Affair to Remember but also used clips from the film liberally throughout. What's odd is that An Affair to Remember is itself a nearly scene-for-scene recreation of director Leo McCarey's own 1939 film Love Affair, substituting Cary Grant for Charles Boyer, Deborah Kerr for Irene Dunn, and Academy ratio black and white for lavish CinemaScope color photography. It may just be a new veneer on an old story, but it's one of those rare remakes that's just as successful as the original. Providing, that is, you're in the mood for a sentimental, this could never happen in real life romance.
If you are, and you're looking to satisfy an escapist urge, An Affair to Remember is one of the best, the story of two well-to-do dilettantes who Meet Cute aboard a trans-Atlantic ocean liner. Cary Grant plays Nickie Ferrante, an international playboy and erstwhile painter known for having a girl in every port. The current grist in the rumor mill, however, is that he's engaged to a wealthy heiress back in New York. Needless to say, he's the talk of the ship. When Nickie has a series of random, flirty encounters with Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr), a nightclub singer who's also spoken for, he sees the chance for one last harmless dalliance before he gets married. She's coy but charmed, and while she doesn't give in to his romantic advances, they strike up a friendship that has the ship's passengers positively tittering. As they are wont to do, the new friends' feelings take a sudden turn toward love when the ship docks on the French Riviera and Nickie brings Terry to visit his elderly grandmother (Cathleen Nesbitt), who takes an approving interest in the red-haired singer. Suddenly aware that they're head over heels for one another, Nickie and Terry make a pact: They'll give each other six months to break up with their significant others, and on July 1st at 5pm they'll reunite atop the Empire State Building.
This, of course, is the kind of horrible, terrible, no good, very bad idea that only happens in Hollywood romance movies. The pact seems completely implausible, so if you're the sort of stickler who's apt to yell out "wait a minute!" mid-picture—anytime anything remotely dubious occurs—you'd probably be better off skipping An Affair to Remember altogether. Because really, as the film moves out of rom-com mode and into all-out melodrama, the machinations of the story go further and further beyond belief. Whenever we get this kind of setup—two lovers agreeing to meet at some specified time and place in the future—it's obvious that something is going to go wrong. This is storytelling 101. To believably sell the drama of this plot device, though, the logic of what comes next—the close calls, the misunderstandings, the inevitable reunion—has to be airtight. Here, it's as leaky as the Titanic. En route to the Empire State Building, Terry suffers an untimely accident and tragically waylaid. Okay, it's contrived, sure, but I'll buy that. Here's what I don't understand, though—why doesn't she contact Nickie afterward? And why doesn't he try to get in touch with her? Sure, I get it; she's embarrassed and he's heartbroken, but these are both fairly famous people who travel in the same social circles—wouldn't Terry have read about her accident in the newspaper or heard about it from a friend?
Nevertheless, the film works because it functions more like a fantasy, a daydream where the only rationality is the logic of love—which, as we all know, isn't always subject to common sense. Even the sets and cinematography nurture this illusion of being somehow beyond real. The very deliberate colors are more vibrant than everyday life—almost approaching a hand-tinted quality at times—and the blue-screened backdrops of the Mediterranean give a storybook feeling of intentional artifice. You can constantly nudge yourself out of this dream by picking out plot holes and inconsistencies, but you can also just succumb to it and allow it to carry you along to the film's teary-eyed, voice-choking finale. The former is simple enough—especially if you're not naturally the romantic sort—but the latter is much more satisfying. Making this all the easier are the two irresistible leads. Has any modern actor come close to the kind of effortless charisma that Cary Grant exudes? He's in a classic Grant role here—that of the suave Continental drifter, as charming as he is rich—and he manages to turn his rather raffish, womanizing character into someone deserving of our sympathy. Grant's ever-present magnetism sometimes pulls attention away from Deborah Kerr—whom you might remember as the troubled Sister Superior in Black Narcissus—but she's great as well, fretting with her forefinger between her front teeth as she mulls over what society will think. When the two are finally brought together again, you'll want to have those tissues at the ready. You're gonna need 'em.
An Affair to Remember Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shot on the then relatively new anamorphic widescreen CinemaScope format, An Affair to Remember really does exemplify the classic look of a Hollywood production from the 1950s. The film looks wonderful on Blu-ray, with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that's drenched in creamy, lightly exaggerated colors. (Outside of Lucille Ball in Technicolor, you've never seen hair as ginger as Deborah Kerr's here.) Like Fox's other big recent digibook re-release—All About Eve—An Affair to Remember has been carefully restored. The print is in nearly immaculate condition, with few specks and no real debris, and the image is completely natural, with no telltale signs of digital noise reduction or overzealous edge enhancement. There are a few quirks inherent to the way the film was shot and assembled—you'll see brief shifts in color during scene transitions and notice spikes in grain during some shots that appear to be stock footage—but nothing major. I was quite impressed by the picture quality; clarity is usually strong, contrast is perfectly attuned, and you get the sense that each color in the film was thoughtfully considered before being allowed in the frame.
An Affair to Remember Blu-ray, Audio Quality
CinemaScope was one of the first formats to implement surround sound—it featured right, left, and center channels, along with a single surround channel—so 20th Century Fox's decision to give the film a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track on Blu-ray makes perfect sense. (Although I believe this particular film, as seen in theaters, originally only had a stereo mix.) The rear speakers are mainly used to expand the film's score—which sounds wonderful, audio-wise, if a little schmaltzy in content—but you'll also hear occasional effects, like a foghorn bellowing behind you or an unexpected knock on the door from the left rear channel. All of this is balanced well, and the dialogue throughout is clean and easily discernable. For those that need or want them, English SDH and Spanish subtitles are available in easy-to-read white lettering.
An Affair to Remember Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
An Affair to Remember doesn't feature any new exclusive extras on Blu-ray, but it does come with a fine array of recycled supplements, including a commentary track and several featurettes. The disc comes housed in a sleek 25-page digibook with a plot summary, cast/crew bios, and plenty of stills.
An Affair to Remember Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Despite a plot that makes far too many implausible twists, An Affair to Remember is a grand Hollywood romance that every chick-flick fan should see at least once. Not only does it feature the always-charming Cary Grant—a picture of whose face, I believe, illustrates the dictionary definition of "debonair"—but it also concludes with the kind of tearful happy ending that necessitates the presence of a handkerchief, a hand to squeeze, and a shoulder on which to cry. In short, it's the perfect Valentine's Day sob-a-thon. Recommended for capital-R-Romantics of all ages.
An Affair to Remember: Other Editions
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An Affair to Remember Blu-ray, News and Updates
• An Affair to Remember UK Blu-ray - October 3, 2011
The UK branch of 20th Century Fox Entertainment has revealed that it will release on Blu-ray Leo McCarey's An Affair to Remember (1957), starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. The preliminary release date set by the studio is January 30th.
• An Affair to Remember, All About Eve, Boys Don’t Cry Blu-ray Comi... - November 29, 2010
An early announcement to retailers indicates that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release three catalog releases on Blu-ray on February 1, 2011: An Affair to Remember (Leo McCarey, 1957); All About Eve: 60th Anniversary Edition (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1957) ...
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