An Affair to Remember appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though somewhat erratic, the picture of Remember mostly looked 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. This appears to be a complication connected to Cinemascope lenses, but it still maintained a distraction. 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. Skin tones varied – Grant looked downright orange on occasion – and other tones jumped around as well. Still, most of the colors were fairly bright and vivid. 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 was generally satisfying.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 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.
Surround usage was modest. Not many effects popped up in the rear speakers, as they focused on the front; a thunderstorm used the surrounds but I don’t think any other sequences made use of them. Music spread to the back channels in a gentle manner, though. Overall, this remained a forward-based track.
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 for its era.
How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray compare to those of the 2008 DVD release? The audio was similar; although the Blu-ray offered a surround track, it didn’t use the back speakers in an active way, so the end result was a lot like the stereo mix of the DVD. Audio quality didn’t seem any stronger on the Blu-ray, as the dated source material restricted its impact.
Visuals showed improvements, though again, the original footage created some limitations. The occasional softness that crept into the image was a distraction in both versions, and colors could be erratic for the pair. Still, the Blu-ray included more than a few very attractive sequences that the DVD couldn’t touch. Even with its ups and downs, the Blu-ray was the stronger transfer.
The Blu-ray includes the same extras as the 2008 DVD. 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.
After this we find 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.
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.
The packaging boasts a 24-page Collectible Book. This follows the example set by a number of Warner Bros. Blu-rays: it attaches a book inside the Blu-ray’s case. Here we find a plot synopsis, biographies of Grant, Kerr and McCarey, a short essay about the film, and a collection of photos; those mix shots from the movie, images from the set and publicity stills. The book adds a nice touch of class to the set.
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 Blu-ray offers somewhat erratic but generally good picture and sound as well as a reasonably informative roster of supplements. The Blu-ray doesn’t blow away prior releases, but it stands as a satisfying rendition of the film.
To rate this film visit the Fox Studio Classics review of AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER