JAN / FEB 2013: BY ELLA G.
A dear person in my life has a blog entitled, “They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To.”
Recently, I found myself pondering this small, yet profound, statement. It is never more true than in the beautiful little film An Affair to Remember. I watch it whenever I encounter it, no matter what channel it might be on and regardless of its duration left. I’ll even watch the last five minutes and not feel gypped—after all, that is the best part of the entire film.
It is the story of Nicky Ferante, an American playboy, and Terry McKay. They meet abroad an ocean liner currently on the Mediterranean Sea. In what appears to be a match of polar opposites, Nicky and Terry strike up a blossoming friendship. Terry accompanies Nicky on a visit to his grandmother, Janu’s, house, while at port. During an afternoon together, Nicky and Terry realize they are in love with each other. But there is a catch (as there always is): the two individuals are currently engaged to other people, ones they do not love, but still…
As the boat docks, Nicky and Terry make a pact. If in six months, with no talking or writing, they still feel the same way about each other, they will meet atop the Empire State Building and live happily ever after. However, things don’t go off without a hitch. One character is led to believe something about the other one when it is the furthest thing from the truth.
What draws me to this movie? Is it the amazingly talented (and gorgeous) cast of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr? Those two were just right for their parts and utterly believable in the performances they give. The part atop the Empire State building makes my heart feel sad every single time, and you feel the character’s pain and anguish, anger and loss. Aren’t films supposed to do that? Besides, it’s just pretty awesome to say that you love a Cary Grant movie. It sounds, I don’t know, classy somehow.
Or do I keep coming back to An Affair to Remember because of its lack of junk? This generation equates the word “affair” with sex, but in this classic romance there is no between the sheets action. In fact, while still engaged to other people, Nicky and Terry show nary a kiss and when they do lock lips, it’s off camera. Do you have any idea how rare that is? Granted, movie production codes wouldn’t have given a green light to this film had sex or nudity been present. Theater going audiences wouldn’t have tolerated it either and the audience is the bang for the actor’s buck as the saying goes.
Like I said, “they don’t make them like they used to.” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy current romantic comedies and dramas as much as the next girl. But An Affair to Remember brings me back to a simpler time and place. One where romance meant more than your bedroom performance. One where actors had to rely on their own talent, not on stunt men and special effects. Those elements are cool, but some of the most well beloved movies stem from raw, meaty dramas… and you don’t need to blow things up to achieve that end.
I get giddy and sentimental when I think about this classic, which was voted the American Film Institute’s 3rd best romantic film of all time. It has quotable lines and poignant moments, and a lovely theme song sung by Vic Damone. Ever since first watching it, I don’t look at the Empire State Building the same way again. And yes, I cry in the exact same parts each time. It doesn’t matter if I’m starting in the middle or not—trust me, the tears will come.
This is the product of a remake and Warren Beatty/Anette Benning made their own version of the story. Sleepless in Seattle bears similarities as well. I’ve seen them all and while it’s just my opinion, none possess the magic of this one. That’s why I come back to it again and again and again. It’s why I’ll be seeing it on the big screen soon. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr drew me in and now, there is no getting away. ■