Monday Movie: Love Affair, by David Bax
Every Monday, we’ll highlight a piece of writing from our vaults. This review of Love Affair originally ran as part of our TCM Classic Film Festival 2019 coverage.
As is often the case when a director remakes their own film, Leo McCarey’s second attempt, 1957’s An Affair to Remember, is better known than the original, 1939’s Love Affair. For someone my age, that probably has a lot to do with Sleepless in Seattle, which also played the festival this year. Films at TCM Fest are often introduced by TCM hosts or celebrities and Dana Delaney, who spoke before this one, says she prefers the earlier version. And I’m not one to argue with Dana Delaney. Especially when her argument boils down to chemistry, something stars Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer have in such abundance, it practically makes the film feel like 3D. Dunne and Boyer play too people who are engaged, but not to one another, who meet on a cross-Atlantic ocean liner, immediately fall for each other and, upon arrival in New York, vow to meet at the top of the Empire State Building in six months if their feelings haven’t subsided. But Terry (Dunne) gets hit by a car on her way to the rendezvous and refuses to try to connect with Michel (Boyer) until she learns to walk again (the film’s ableist undercurrents are the only major weak point). The screenplay, by Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart, is full of witty banter, much of it about the indignities of fame, and yet so much of the movie’s power, including the overwhelmingly beautiful finale, lies in non-verbal strokes. When they disembark, for instance, Michel’s fiancee meets him as he gets off the ship and then Terry must literally come between them to exit the gangplank. Love Affair is a witty and touching romance with a better head on its shoulders than most such movies. What remake?