An Affair to Remember (1957)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama, Melodrama  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Leo McCarey's remake of his Love Affair (1939) is a classic tearjerker and a key reference of Sleepless in Seattle (1993). While shameless in its manipulation of emotion, the film avoids the worst excesses of the bathetic through the peerless performances of its two graceful leads. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr star as the couple who, after meeting on a cruise ship, agree to meet at the top of the Empire State Building in six months time in order to test the strength of their love. The film suffers from a certain unevenness. After its engaging first act, the lengthy second act during which the lovers are waiting out the six months, which includes some subpar musical numbers by Kerr, is an exercise in tedium. The film's reputation is based upon the plotting chicanery of its third act and its lachrymose denouement. With a film like this, one is tempted to conjecture about the enduring appeal of something so patently false. But if one takes Kerr's accidental injury as a metaphor for her own sense of unworthiness or fear of loving and being loved, along with Grant's love for her in spite of her "fault," the source of its power seems much easier to accept.