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20TH CENTURY FOX

MOVIE INFO
Synopsis:
In this poignant and humorous love story nominated for four Academy Awards, Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr meet on an ocean liner andi all deeply in love. Though each is engaged to someone else, they agree to meet six months later at the Empire State Building if they still feel the same way about each other. But a tragic accident prevents their rendezvous and the lovers' future takes an emotional and uncertain turn.

Director:
Leo McCarey
Cast:
Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Richard Denning, Neva Patterson, Cathleen Nesbitt
Writing Credits:
Leo McCarey, Mildred Cram

MPAA:
Not Rated.

Academy Awards:
Nominated for Best Cinematography; Best Costume Design; Best Score-Hugo Friedhofer; Best Song-"An Affair to Remember".

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Digital Stereo
French Digital Mono
Spanish Digital Mono
Subtitles:
English, Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 2/4/2003

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Singer Marni Nixon and Film Historian Joseph McBride
• AMC Backstory Episode
• Movietone Newsreel
• Still Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
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RELATED REVIEWS


An Affair to Remember: Fox Studio Classics (1957)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 2, 2003)

One of those movies with many remakes, from what I can tell, the story of 1957’s An Affair to Remember has hit the screen at least four times. The material originally showed up in 1939’s Love Affair. 1993’s Sleepless In Seattle offered a variation connected to Remember, while 1994’s Love Affair gave us a more straight retelling of the story.

Though 18 years separated them and they featured different titles, Remember and the 1939 Love Affair maintain an extremely tight bond. They tell identical stories. At the start of the film, we learn that noted ladykiller Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) has finally decided to settle down; he plans to marry wealthy heiress Lois Clarke (Neva Patterson). As he cruises on a ship from Italy to New York, he encounters Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) when she finds his cigarette case. Though both are involved with others, they clearly hit it off, much to the amusement of the many prying eyes on board the boat.

Nonetheless, they spend a lot of time together, and their relationship intensifies when they go ashore in France and visit his grandmother Janou (Cathleen Nesbitt). Terry falls in love with the place and they make a greater connection, one clearly endorsed by the old lady.

When they return to the ship, it seems clear their relationship’s gone to another level. They still attempt to avoid the crowds, but when it becomes obvious this doesn’t work, they come out to the public. As the boat nears New York, they start to worry how they’ll deal with their future relationship. A slacker socialite, Nickie’s never worked, so he fears he won’t be able to take care of Terry as well as she deserves.

They agree to wait and establish themselves better. They make a date to meet six months hence at the top of the Empire State Building; if they both show up, that’ll seal the deal. Back in New York, they reunite with their significant others. Nickie plans to tell Lois that things have changed, but as soon as they arrive at her mansion, he discovers a TV interviewer will immediately chat with them. Nickie doesn’t dump Lois, but he states that they won’t be married for another six months.

Along with her boyfriend Ken (Richard Denning), Terry sees the interview and spills the beans when it ends. She breaks up with Ken and we follow the individual lives of Nickie and Terry as they wait for their date with destiny. He paints with sporadic success, while she does well as a nightclub singer. All of this leads toward their big day – will it come off like planned?

I won’t tell, but chances are most folks already know how this tale will end. You’ll definitely be aware of the ending if you’ve already seen the 1939 Love Affair, as Remember strongly duplicates the older flick. Not only did it offer a remake, but also both movies came from the same director! That’s not unheard of, especially back in the era during which Remember was made.

Still, it seems odd, especially since director Leo McCarey does little to improve upon the original film. Remember has one advantage missing from Love Affair: a better cast. Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne seemed decent as the original’s leads, but both Kerr and Grant provide substantially stronger performances here. They merit a nice chemistry between them, and they click well. Kerr also adds a good sense of intelligence to Terry. Grant falters somewhat when he needs to present Nickie’s more sincere and emotional side, but the flick offers enough opportunities for schtick that he generally succeeds in the part.

When Remember focuses on its comedic elements, it works pretty well. The early scenes on the boat seem lively and amusing. However, once the romance really sets in, the story becomes less compelling, and as the weepier elements start to dominate, it turns downright insufferable.

I presented the same complaints about Love Affair, and since Remember presents a fairly literal remake of the old flick, McCarey didn’t change those parts. Frankly, I felt like I should simply have cut and pasted my review of Love Affair here, as An Affair to Remember so strongly resembled its predecessor. The remake offered a little more spark due to its cast, but otherwise it mostly came across as a saccharine and sappy melodrama.

Footnote: McCarey made one negative change between Love Affair and Remember. My favorite unintentionally funny part of the 1939 flick came during a scene with the children’s choir taught by Terry. Before they’d sing, she’d use a kid named Aloysius to set the key. He’d present the note in an ostentatious and identical way every time, and this never failed to make me laugh. Alas, we get no new version of Aloysius in Remember.


The DVD Grades: Picture B / Audio B- / Bonus B-

An Affair to Remember appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though somewhat erratic, the picture of Remember mostly looked quite good for its age.

Sharpness presented the disc’s main problems. While the majority of the film came across as acceptably concise and accurate, the image definitely took a turn for the hazy at times. Quite a few examples of mild softness marred the presentation. Some of this may have resulted from the light edge enhancement I noticed, but I still felt the movie looked softer than I’d like. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and the print seemed surprisingly clean. I noticed occasional examples of specks and marks, and I also saw a little more grain than I expected. Nonetheless, these remained minor issues, as the majority of Remember presented a fairly blemish-free experience.

Colors appeared somewhat erratic but usually looked good. At times the hues came across as somewhat pale, and skin tones periodically appeared a bit flat. Otherwise, the colors were fairly bright and vivid, and I noticed no significant concerns with them. Black levels seemed nicely deep and rich, especially via the dark suits worn by Grant. Low-light shots were a little dense, but they generally appeared acceptably well defined. Ultimately, the image of An Affair to Remember showed a few concerns but it seemed to hold up well after more than 45 years.

The stereo soundtrack of An Affair to Remember seemed unmemorable but acceptable for its age. The soundfield offered a low-key presentation. Mostly it felt like broad mono, as the mix spread slightly to the sides. Some scenes came across as more active than others, and the track picked up a bit as the film progressed. Nonetheless, the imaging remained fairly heavily centered. Music showed decent stereo elements, and some effects popped up from the sides as well. Speech occasionally did that, though the results were mixed; at times it sounded like the dialogue just hard-panned to the appropriate speaker.

Audio quality was decent for its era. Speech seemed somewhat thin, and the lines showed a little bleeding to the sides above and beyond the intentional localization. Nonetheless, dialogue mostly remained reasonably clear, and I noticed no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Music was a bit flat but remained acceptably bright and showed some mild dynamic range; a little bass emerged at times. Effects also managed to come across as moderately realistic. They lacked great substance despite some mild bass for louder elements like the ship’s horn. No source flaws like hiss or pops seemed apparent. In the end, there wasn’t much to the soundtrack of Remember, but it remained acceptable.

This new “Studio Classics” version of An Affair to Remember marks its second release on DVD; apparently the first one included virtually no supplements. The new edition makes up for that with some nice materials. We start with an audio commentary with singer Marni Nixon and film historian Joseph McBride. Both were recorded separately and their comments were edited together for this otherwise screen-specific piece. Nixon pops up infrequently but she provides a few good notes. She discusses her involvement in the film, her working relationship with Kerr, her struggle to get formal credit, and a few other relevant topics.

McBride heavily dominates the piece, however. He covers similarities and differences between the various versions of the film, biographical material about the main participants, technical notes and other subjects related to the flick. The track sags occasionally but not frequently, though McBride’s comments periodically do little more than offer generic reflections such as “this is good”. Overall, the piece offers enough interesting data to merit the attention of fans, but it doesn’t come across like a generally stellar commentary.

Next we find an episode of AMC Backstory devoted to An Affair to Remember. This 24-minute and 25-second program features movie clips, archival material, and interviews with Deborah Kerr, filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, Sophia Loren biographer A.E. Hotchner, Cary Grant biographer Roy Moseley, former assistant to Affair producer Jerry Wald Curtis Harrington, Kerr’s daughter Francesca Shrapnel, film historian Rudy Behlmer, Cary Grant biographer Nancy Nelson, Kerr’s manager and friend Anne Hutton, Deborah Kerr biographer Eric Braun, Houseboat director Melville Shavelson, and Sleepless In Seattle actress Rita Wilson.

If you’ve seen prior episodes of “Backstory”, you’ll know what to expect here. The program covers Remember fairly well, though it takes a somewhat sensationalistic point of view. It delves heavily into the personal romantic lives of its stars as well as the problems confronted by its director. Some material about the film’s creation also appears, and we also hear about the movie’s success and its continued life. However, the other elements dominate. While I’d prefer more coverage of the flick itself, “Backstory” still provides a fairly compelling look at the circumstances that surrounded Remember.

A few smaller extras round out the set. A Movietone News newsreel covers the film’s shipboard premiere. This 56-second clip seems insubstantial but mildly interesting. We also find the film’s trailer plus a small Still Gallery. The 22-shot collection mixes publicity stills, behind the scenes shots, and wardrobe tests. Finally, the Movie Classics section presents ads for All About Eve, Gentleman’s Agreement, and How Green Was My Valley

During Sleepless In Seattle, a female character makes the claim that “Men never get this movie” in reference to An Affair to Remember. I think she was correct, but I guess if guys can have their inane action movies, women can indulge in weepy romances. An Affair to Remember seems trite and lackluster to me, although its leads help enliven it somewhat. The DVD offers somewhat erratic but generally good picture and sound as well as a reasonable roster of supplements. No one will ever count me as a fan of the flick, but those who do enjoy the movie should like this DVD.

For those who own the original disc, I think the “Studio Classics” release merits an upgrade. In addition to the new one’s expanded selection of supplements, it also presents the movie with an anamorphic image absent from the first one. With a list price of less than $20, I believe the new release is a good buy for anyone with an affection for Remember.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3661 Stars Number of Votes: 71
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