An Affair To Remember

Review by Guido Henkel

An Affair To Remember  (1957)
20th Century Fox

Length:        119 mins.
Rated:          PG
Format:       Anamorphic Widescreen · 2.35:1
Languages:English, French, Spanish
Subtitles:    English, Spanish
Extras:        Commentary Track
                     Featurette
                     Newsreel
                     Still Gallery
                     Trailer

Under the "Studio Classics" banner, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is currently releasing a number of their classic films, beautifully restored and with a number of supplements. The 1957 Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr romance "An Affair To Remember," rightfully beloved by generations, is one of these films and it certainly makes a great showing on DVD.

Cary Grant is playing Nicky Ferrante, a world-known playboy on his last voyage, straight into the arms of marriage. On this last voyage from Europe to New York aboard a large cruise ship he meets Terry McKay, (Deborah Kerr) a former nightclub singer, and following his instincts, he once again tries to score wit the lady. Only this time it’s different. She is not easy to get, being engaged herself, and doesn’t immediately fall for his smooth talking charm. As the two get to know each other better over the course of the trip, a true love seems to spring up between them, and desperately they try to decide what to do with their lives. They agree that they would take time to think about it and to meet atop of the Empire State building six months later, if they are still in love with the other. But a tragic accident prevents their rendezvous…

Beautifully produced and photographed, and acted wit ha lot of suave charm, "An Affair To Remember" is a true classic Hollywood movie. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr make a great on-screen couple with good chemistry and dialogues that are much more naturally that you’d find in many other films at the time. Cathleen Nesbitt, as Grandmother Janou, may not talk a lot in this film and she has only a small part, but her performance is truly remarkable as her eyes alone convey more emotions than any words could say.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has restored the movie to its 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio for this DVD and presents it in anamorphic glory. The image is very clean and virtually free of defects. Noise and grain are non-existent, and the beautiful colors of the film are perfectly rendered in this version, making it a true pleasure to watch. Colors are vibrant and rich but never oversaturated. Blacks are solid and deep, creating deep shadows and firmly rooting the image. Edge-enhancement is at a minimum and visible only on a few rare occasions and the compression of the movie has been handled skillfully, making sure that no artifacts distract from the movie experience.

The DVD contains audio tracks in English, French and Spanish, and although they all sound a bit dated, their quality also gives the film a vintage feel that perfectly befits the movie. The audio has been cleaned up and no pops or hiss are audible and the audio is free of sibilance and distortion. The frequency response is a bit narrow, giving dialogues a fairly harsh quality, but as I said before, it only adds to the "classic" feel of the film.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has added a few exciting supplements to this release, such as an audio commentary featuring singer Marni Nixon - who voiced Deborah Kerr’s brief singing part in the film - and film historian Joseph McBride. I would have hoped for an inclusion of Deborah Kerr in the commentary track, but at the age of 82 this may understandably just not be an option any longer. Still the commentary track is very insightful and reveals a lot of information about the production and the art of movie-making at the time. Since there is fairly little first-hand information available from people who worked during that period, commentaries such as this are always a welcome addition to DVDs to at least serve as a repository of information and tidbits that have been accumulated over the years.

You will also find a Movietone Newsreel on the disc, covering the premiere of the movie aboard the S.S. Constitution – the same cruise ship that was pictured in the movie. It is a brief 1-minute clip showing us some of the stars that attended the premiere and take you down memory lane.

"Backstory: An Affair To Remember" is a retrospective featurette that takes us behind the scenes of the film. Cary Grant’s sensational extra-marital affair with Sophia Loren around the time of the production of this movie are long forgotten by most but his fans, but this featurette brings back to life the moments and tumult that surrounded the movie originally. Also featuring interview footage with film historian Peter Bogdanovich, the featurette truly manages to give us a candid look at the film’s stars. It also covers aspects why director Leo McCarey decided to remake his own 1939 movie "Love Affair" with this picture, and how financial issues almost derailed the production. And finally, we also get to hear Deborah Kerr in her on words in this great featurette. There is so much more in this featurette that I can only urge you to take a look at it!

The DVD is rounded out by a beautiful Still Gallery and the film’s theatrical trailer.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has prepared a marvelous DVD bundle here for one of the most beloved romances. Great extras and a marvelous feature presentation make this DVD a must-own for every fan of classic cinema.

    

February 11, 2003

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