On a luxury ocean liner, playboy Cary Grant meets singer Deborah Kerr. Each is involvedwith someone else, but they fall deeply in love with each other. Upon arriving in New York, theydecide to part and, if all goes well, reunite in six months at the top of the Empire State Building,by which time their lives should be in order. If you’ve seen Sleepless in Seattle, you know whathappens next. Though this is one the most celebrated weepies ever, I found it curiouslyuninvolving….The banter on the ocean liner, though amusing, fails to make us believe in the depthof the relationship, and so the tragedy that comes later lacks punch. The plot meandersinterminably, is padded out by Sound of Music-style songs involving sweet widdle kiddies, andthe reasons for keeping the characters apart during the third act are so contrived that suspensionof disbelief crashes and burns. The ‘scope cinematography is nice, and it’s always fun to watchtop stars like Grant and Kerr, but if you want a more convincing heart-tugger, see Now,Voyager.
A very nice stereo sound, given that the film is from 1957. The music, in particular, is richand full in the surround mix. There aren’t a lot of sound effects, but the odd time they show up,they do so quite impressively. I confess I was nervous that there was no mono option, but the“surround dialogue” effect only crops up a couple of times.
If you’ve got an old pan-and-scan VHS version, throw it away. This is a Cinemascope movie,and the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio is beautifully preserved here. The print is in verygood shape. Every now and then there is a bit of flicker, and a bit of grain (though the latter onlyshows up in what I’m pretty sure is stock footage. The colours and contrasts are glorious, andthere is only the slightest edge enhancement halo.
Most prominent of the features is a commentary by singer Marni Nixon (who talks about herparticipation in the film and about the music) and film historian Joseph McBride (who handleseverything else). Even where I disagreed with the commentary, I found it informative, interesting,and intelligent. The AMC Backstory episode is interesting too, in a gossipy, A&E Biographykind of way (all kinds of stuff about Grant’s affair with Sophia Loren). Along with a still galleryand trailers for the other Studio Classics films, there are the original trailers for An Affair toRemember (including a Movietone News piece, the ancestor of today’s featurette). The menuis basic.
This is a great film to look at, and there are plenty of clever moments, but the whole is lessthan the sum of its parts.
Special Features List
- Still Gallery
- Commentary by Singer Marni Nixon and Film Historian Joseph McBride
- Movietone Newsreel
- AMC Backstory Episode