Movie of the Month: An Affair to Remember

Our movie for February is An Affair to Remember (1957) directed by Leo McCarey and starring Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant.

Director Leo McCarey's 1939 film Love Affair was a smash hit, garnering six Academy Award nominations and a pile of cash at the box office. Eighteen years later, McCarey decided to remake the film as An Affair to Remember.

An Affair to Remember (1957)
Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) finds Nickie Ferrante's (Cary Grant) cigarette case in An Affair to Remember (1957).
 In An Affair to Remember, international playboy Nickie Ferrante (Grant) and American Terry McKay (Kerr) meet on a cruise ship. Although both of them are engaged, they fall deeply in love. Nickie and Terry  agree to test their love by separating for six months. At the end of that time period, they will meet at the top of the Empire State Building; however, tragedy strikes before one of them can make it to the 102nd floor.

A vintage poster from An Affair to Remember (1957).
An Affair to Remember was an even bigger hit than Love Affair, earning four Oscar nominations and generating a hit song. The film has earned the reputation as one of the all-time great screen romances. Nora Ephron's 1994 film, Sleepless in Seattle, introduced An Affair to Remember to a whole new generation of fans with several references to the film, including the final scene on the Empire State building's observation deck.

The Empire State Building looms behind Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) and Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) in An Affair to Remember (1957).
An Affair to Remember is almost a shot-by-shot remake of Love Affair, only this time instead of black-and-white there is lush Technicolor photography. Although the scripts for the films are virtually identical, there are some key differences between the two films, which we'll break down below:

An Affair to Remember (1957)
Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) and Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) take a dip in the pool in An Affair to Remember (1957).
- The name of the main character: In Love Affair, French playboy Michel Marnet (Charles Boyer) is our hero. In An Affair to Remember, Grant embodies the role of international playboy Nickie Ferrante.

- Terry McKay's hometown: In Love Affair, Terry (Irene Dunne) returns to her hometown of Philadelphia to earn her living as a singer. In An Affair to Remember, Terry is Boston born and bred.

An Affair to Remember (1957)
A couple of gossips ruin the pink champagne cocktails in An Affair to Remember (1957).

- The first meeting: In Love Affair, Terry and Michel meet when she picks up a telegram that blew out of Michel's hands. In An Affair to Remember, Terry finds Nickie's gold-plated cigarette case.

-The roles of the significant others: Terry's businessman boyfriend (Lee Bowman) and Michel's rich fiancee (Astrid Allwyn) have very small roles in Love Affair. Richard Denning, who plays Terry's long-suffering fiance Kenneth Bradley in An Affair to Remember, has a great deal of screen time in the second half of the film. Neva Patterson, who plays the publicity-hungry heiress Lois Clark, is very funny in a scene where she and Grant are being interviewed on television.

-The songs: Both Love Affair and An Affair to Remember are not considered musicals, but there are several songs performed in each film. Both films had hit songs that were Oscar nominated: Love Affair features Irene Dunne singing Wishing (Will Make It So), while Deborah Kerr (dubbed by Marni Nixon) sings a French version of An Affair to Remember.

We'll have plenty more about An Affair to Remember throughout February, including an article about the Empire State Building in film, a multi-part retrospective on Grant's career and a look at Grant and Kerr's other collaborations.