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 50 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.
How did the picture and audio of this 2008 “50th Anniversary Edition” compare to those of the 2003 “Studio Classics” release? Both seemed identical to me. If any substantial differences occurred, I didn’t discern them.
This new “50th Anniversary Edition” of An Affair to Remember offers the same extras as the “Studio Classics” set along with a few new ones. I’ll mark elements exclusive to the “50th Anniversary” DVD with an asterisk. If you fail to see a star, the component also popped up on the “Studio Classics” set
On DVD One, 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.
Over on DVD Two, we open with five featurettes. *Affairs to Remember: Cary Grant goes for nine minutes, 48 seconds as it mixes movie clips, archival materials and interviews. We hear from Grant’s widow Barbara Grant Jaynes as she discusses how she met Grant and their life together. Don’t expect much real insight here, as Jaynes works hard to maintain the notion of Grant as a thoroughly wonderful person. That isn’t to say he wasn’t a great guy – I have no idea – but it does mean that the featurette lacks a lot of depth.
Grant’s co-star gets the spotlight in the five-minute and 34-second *Affairs to Remember: Deborah Kerr. It provides remarks from Kerr’s husband Peter Viertel as he tells us of his relationship with his wife. Since he describes her as a saint, this means the content level remains on about the same level as the Grant piece. It’s nice to hear reflections from someone who knows Kerr so well, but the material rarely engages.
(By the way, since this program speaks of Kerr in the present tense – and doesn’t note her October 2007 death – I would assume the DVD went into production too late to acknowledge her passing.)
*Directed by Leo McCarey goes for 22 minutes, 32 seconds and includes film historian Scott McIsaac, authors/film professors Wes Gehring and Paul Harrill, author/filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich, and USC Cinema-Television Professor Rick Jewell. “Directed” gives us a basic look at McCarey’s life and career. Actually, “basic” seems unfair, as it provides a pretty solid examination of the man and his work. The presentation is very meat and potatoes, but what it lacks in flash it makes up for with a great deal of good details. This turns into a satisfying biography.
Next comes the 16-minute and six-second *A Producer to Remember: Jerry Wald. We get notes from brother/screenwriter Malvin Wald, sons Andrew and Robby Wald, writer Richard Baer, and widow Constance Wald. Ala the McCarey piece, this one provides a look at the life and career of producer Wald. It’s also a solid discussion of the man, as it gives us the appropriate details.
For the *The Look of An Affair to Remember, we find nine minutes and one second with Bogdanovich, Gehring, Jewell, and film historian John Cork. The featurette discusses the movie’s framing, color palette, and other visual choices. It proves quite insightful and interesting.
After this we find an episode of AMC Backstory devoted to An Affair to Remember. This 24-minute and 25-second program features interviews with Kerr, 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 30-shot collection mixes publicity stills, behind the scenes shots, and wardrobe tests. (Note that both the “50th Anniversary” and “Studio Classics” DVDs include still galleries but this one is a little more extensive; the prior disc only presented 22 photos.)
Don’t expect much from the *Poster Gallery, as it features a mere two images! In the DVD’s case, you’ll find reproductions of vintage *Lobby Cards. The package provides four black and white stills.
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.
Since this is the third DVD release of Affair, pursestrings issues arise for fans. For those who own no prior version of the flick, it’s really a toss-up between this “50th Anniversary Edition” and the 2003 “Studio Classics” release. It looks like that one remains in print, and it boasts a retail price $5 lower than this one’s $19.98. That’s not a huge difference, but since both releases feature identical picture and audio, it may push you toward the cheaper one. Some of the new extras are good, but I don’t know if they offer enough substance to merit the extra money.
As for those fans who already have the “Studio Classics” disc, I don’t imagine they’ll want to double-dip here. Again, the only difference comes from the smattering of new extras. Since I’m not sure if they’re worth the $5 differential between the two releases for those who own neither set, they’re definitely not worth a full new purchase. This is the best version of Affair on the market, but it doesn’t exactly blow away its predecessor.
To rate this film visit the Fox Studio Classics review of AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER