skip navigation
An Affair to Remember

An Affair to Remember(1957)

  • Monday, December 8 @ 10:00 PM (ET) - Reminder REMINDER
Up
Down

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:
Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (1)

DVDs from TCM Shop

An Affair to Remember A romantic shipboard romance... MORE > $19.98 Regularly $19.98 Buy Now

Articles

powered by AFI

SEE ALL ARTICLES
teaser An Affair to Remember (1957)

SYNOPSIS

Nickie and Terry fall for each other while on vacation but decide to wait six months to get together because of their attachments to others. When Nickie shows up at the Empire State Building for their long awaited rendezvous, only to find himself stood up, he has no way of knowing that the only thing that kept Terry from meeting him was a car accident. As the days pass after that fateful date, each battles rejection and false pride until Nickie forces a meeting with Terry and learns the truth.

Director: Leo McCarey
Producer: Jerry Wald
Screenplay: Delmer Daves, McCarey
Based on a story by McCarey, Mildred Cram
Cinematography: Milton Krasner
Editing: James B. Clark
Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler, Jack Martin Smith
Music: Hugo Friedhofer
Cast: Cary Grant (Nickie Ferrante), Deborah Kerr (Terry McKay), Richard Denning (Kenneth), Neva Patterson (Lois), Cathleen Nesbitt (Grandmother), Robert Q. Lewis (Announcer), Fortunio Bonanova (Courbet)
C-115m.

Why AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER is Essential

An Affair to Remember is one of the most popular love stories ever made in Hollywood. Many fans would hail it as the most romantic movie ever made.

With its mix of sophistication and sentimentality, the film offers one of the most complete expressions of Leo McCarey's personality as a writer-director. In particular, auteur critics have hailed his ability to make the transition from comedy in the early scenes to the more deeply romantic mood of the film's ending, a characteristic of such other McCarey films as Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945).

The film was also McCarey's last great success, capping a career that stretched back to the silent comedies he wrote and directed for Hal Roach.

An Affair to Remember was one of three 1957 films that brought Cary Grant out of retirement after his performance in To Catch a Thief two years earlier. With the critical and box-office failure of his other two 1957 films - The Pride and the Passion and Kiss Them for Me - it provided the success Grant needed to keep him making films until his ultimate retirement in 1966. It remains one of his most popular films.

The film remains Deborah Kerr's most popular. Throughout her later years, she was always pleased when she met fans and they told her they had most recently seen her in An Affair to Remember.

An Affair to Remember was the most successful of the three films Grant made with Kerr. Although the two seemed perfectly matched, their other vehicles, Dream Wife (1953) and The Grass Is Greener (1960), did not capture their chemistry as effectively.

The film was producer Jerry Wald's first under contract to 20th Century-Fox, where he would finish his career with such acclaimed features as Peyton Place (1957), The Long, Hot Summer (1958) and Sons and Lovers (1960).

by Frank Miller

back to top
teaser An Affair to Remember (1957)

An Affair to Remember and Kerr's other 1957 release, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, made Kerr the most in-demand actress in Hollywood.

The film's title song, "An Affair to Remember (Our Love Affair)" was a major hit for Vic Damone, holding a place on the Hit Parade for 16 weeks. It became a standard recorded by such artists as Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra.

In his last film, Walk, Don't Run (1966), Cary Grant sings a bit of An Affair to Remember's title song.

The film's title has provided the titles for episodes of Spin City and Gilmore Girls. Puns on the title have also provided episode titles, with the most popular being "An Affair to Forget" (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Laverne & Shirley, Three's Company, Who's the Boss?, Wings, Frasier and Boy Meets World). Other variations include "A Non-Affair to Remember" (The Jeff Foxworthy Show), "An Affair to Dismember" (The Nanny), "A Divorce to Remember" (Just Shoot Me) and "A Fair to Remember" (The New Adventures of Old Christine).

The married couple played by Kate Jackson and Michael Ontkean in Making Love (1982) parrot the dialogue along with the film while watching it on TV.

An Affair to Remember was a major influence on Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle (1993). Not only did leading lady Meg Ryan and her best friend, Rosie O'Donnell, consider the film the height of screen romance and watch it on tape while sobbing their eyes out, but the final meeting between Ryan and Tom Hanks occurs at the top of the Empire State Building, where Terry and Nickie planned to meet in An Affair to Remember. The success of Sleepless in Seattle brought An Affair to Remember a new generation of fans and led to an additional two million sales for the film on VHS.

Director Glenn Gordon Caron remade the film -- under the original title, Love Affair -- in 1994. Real-life married couple Warren Beatty and Annette Bening took over the leads, with Katharine Hepburn as Beatty's grandmother. The film did not do well at the box office.

The 1999 Bollywood film Mann borrows the shipboard romance and the waiting period afterwards from An Affair to Remember. Aamir Khan and Manisha Koirala play roles inspired by those of Grant and Kerr.

In Touch of Pink (2004), which depicts Grant's ghost (played by Kyle MacLachlan) as an advisor to an Indian gay man, An Affair to Remember plays on the TV.

by Frank Miller

back to top
teaser An Affair to Remember (1957)

Love Affair (1939) and An Affair to Remember are the first original and remake to both win Oscar® nominations for Best Song. The 1954 and 1976 versions of A Star Is Born, would do the same, though technically the earlier film is not the original. That honor goes to the non-musical 1936 version, What Price Hollywood?.

Cary Grant would later admit that, like many of An Affair to Remember's fans, he always cried while watching the film's ending.

Robert Wagner, still at the start of his career, was a frequent visitor to the set so he could watch Grant work.

During filming, Grant's wife, Betsy Drake, had him visiting a hypnotist to help him quit smoking. She also packed him a hamper full of health food for his lunch, though he often finished it before starting filming because without cigarettes he was hungry all the time.

An Affair to Remember was the second film in which Deborah Kerr took over a role previously played by Irene Dunne. The first was The King and I (1956), the musical version of the novel previously filmed with Dunne as Anna and the King of Siam (1946).

While filming a scene on board the luxury liner, Grant pointed out that the steward's jacket had the wrong buttons for the Queen Mary. Although crew members insisted nobody would know the difference, he said, "Yes, but I'll know it," so they changed the buttons.

Kerr had not seen Cathleen Nesbitt, cast as Grant's grandmother, in 19 years. Back then, Nesbitt had played Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, with Kerr as a lady in waiting. The film marked the start of a long friendship between them.

In France, the film was called "She and He", "A Splendid Love" in Italy, "The Great Love of My Life" in Portugal, "Too Late to Forget" in Brazil, "All of Love" in Sweden and "Unforgettable Fondness" in Finland.

With $3.85 million in box office receipts, An Affair to Remember was one of the top-grossing films of 1957.

20th Century-Fox promoted An Affair to Remember with the tagline "Every precious moment of the glad...tender...triumphant love they found -- and almost lost!"

by Frank Miller

Memorable Quotes from AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

"This ship is going much too fast." -- Cary Grant, as Nickie Ferrante, trying to make small talk with Deborah Kerr, as Terry McKay.

"I was bored to death. I hadn't seen one attractive woman on this ship since we left. Now, isn't that terrible? I was alarmed. I said to myself, 'Don't beautiful women travel any more?' And then I saw you, and I was saved -- I hope."
"Tell me, have you been getting results with a line like that, or would I be surprised."
"If you'd be surprised, I'd be surprised." -- Grant, as Nickie Ferrante, and Kerr, as Terry McKay, revealing they're on to each other.

"He's always attracted by the art he isn't practicing, the place he hasn't been, the girl he hasn't met." -- Cathleen Nesbitt, as Grandmere, describing Grant, as Nickie Ferrante.

"It's not that I'm prudish. It's just that my mother told me never to enter any man's room in months ending in 'R.'" -- Kerr, as Terry McKay, to Grant, as Nickie.

"I told you, that's what beauty does to me." -- Kerr, as Terry, explaining why Grant's kiss made her cry.

"Being a woman I'm naturally more cautious, and I can think more clearly when you're not around." -- Kerr, asking Grant to leave.

"I'll just take my ego for a walk." -- Grant.

"We're headed into a rough sea, Nickie."
"I know. We changed our course today." -- Kerr and Grant.

"What makes life so difficult?"
"People." -- Kerr and Grant.

"Pink champagne -- that's the kind of life we've both been used to. It might be a little difficult to -- do you like beer?" -- Kerr, trying to inject a little reality into her romance with Grant.

"The Empire State Building is the closest thing to heaven in this city." -- Kerr, setting up her reunion with Grant.

"There must be something between us, even if it's only an ocean." -- Grant.

"Oh, it's nobody's fault but my own! I was looking up...it was the nearest thing to heaven! You were there." -- Kerr, explaining her accident.

"Winter must be very cold for those who have no memories to keep them warm, and we have already missed the spring." -- Kerr.

"If you can paint, I can walk. Anything can happen, right?" -- Kerr, delivering the film's final line.

back to top
teaser An Affair to Remember (1957)

In 1938, Leo McCarey was having a hard time coming up with an idea for his next film. His wife suggested they take a vacation to spur his creativity, so they spent three months in Europe with no success. On the trip back, their first ocean trip from Europe to the U.S., they got up early on the last day to catch the first sight of land. McCarey was complaining to his wife that the trip had not worked, when he caught sight of the Statue of Liberty and the plot for Love Affair (1939) sprung into his head: "Suppose you and I were talking to each other when the boat sailed from England, and we got to know each other on the trip. We felt ourselves inseparable. By the time the trip was over, we were madly in love with each other, but by the time the boat docked we have found out that each is obligated to somebody else."

McCarey developed the story with Mildred Cram, then turned the screenplay over to Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart. He wrote the male lead for Charles Boyer. Both Helen Hayes and Greta Garbo wanted the female lead, but he cast Irene Dunne on his wife's suggestion. The result was a major hit, winning Oscar® nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Story, Best Art Direction, Best Song, Dunne and supporting actress Maria Ouspenskaya, cast as Boyer's grandmother.

In the '50s, McCarey had hit a career slump following the box office failure of his anti-Communist thriller My Son John (1952). Struck by the number of people who had called Love Affair the best romantic film they had ever seen, he decided the time was ripe for a remake. He also wanted to see if he was still as good a writer and director as he had been.

Daves came back to work on the screenplay of An Affair to Remember. Stewart helped as well but without credit; he had been a member of the Hollywood Ten and was still blacklisted.

McCarey originally wanted Ingrid Bergman for the female lead.

McCarey offered Cary Grant the male lead because he wanted to expand the comic scenes during the first half of the picture. Although Grant had misgivings about stepping into Boyer's shoes, he accepted the role in An Affair to Remember because he wanted to work again with Deborah Kerr and McCarey, who had helped make him a star in The Awful Truth (1937).

After Kerr's success mouthing Marni Nixon's singing in The King and I (1956), Wald suggested making her character a singer. They even had Nixon dub her vocals again.

In early interviews, Wald predicted the film would be a success because it had been so long since Hollywood had produced a sophisticated romance like those made in the '30s. He also thought the cast would help sell the film, since Grant and Kerr were two of the few actors who could make that type of material work. He said, "Today's actors either look good and talk lousy, or they look lousy and talk good."

The film's working title was Love Affair. When 20th Century-Fox's lawyers discovered that Columbia Pictures owned the rights to that title, it was changed to An Affair to Remember.

by Frank Miller

back to top
teaser An Affair to Remember (1957)

An Affair to Remember was shot mostly in Hollywood, though there were location shoots in New York City and the South of France. When Cathleen Nesbitt's friends asked if she had enjoyed filming her scene as Cary Grant's grandmother in France, she had to inform them that the interior scenes had been done on the 20th-Century-Fox back lot.

As with many of his films, including the original Love Affair (1939), McCarey allowed his stars to improvise on camera and included many of their lines in the final film.

During filming cinematographer Milton Krasner pointed out to Grant that a lump on his forehead was making it hard to film his close-ups. The lump was the result of a childhood accident, but Grant had been habitually rubbing it for years, leading it to swell. Doctors told him it would take four to six weeks for him to recover from its removal. Instead, he took a few days off, had his wife, Betsy Drake, hypnotize him, and had the procedure performed in the doctor's office under a local anesthetic. He recovered within days with no scarring.

McCarey wanted the theme song of An Affair to Remember to set the film's romantic mood from the start. He and Wald hired Harry Warren, who had been writing songs for films since the coming of sound and had penned most of Warner Bros.' great Busby Berkeley musicals. Warren tried 25 melodies before he came up with a tune that would sound right as a piano piece played by Nesbitt, a traditional French song and a pop number. Then he handed the music over to Harold Adamson, who wrote the lyrics with McCarey's help.

Kerr and Grant sing a few bars of the theme song during the shipboard dance. Philips Records, which was releasing the film's songs, announced that they would sing the title song on the official soundtrack recording, but the album only included Vic Damone, who sang the song over the credits, and Marni Nixon, who dubbed Kerr's singing in most of the film. Kerr can only be heard in "The Tiny Scout," the song she performs with the children's chorus.

In a rare move for a Hollywood film of the '50s, the director was credited in the film's title. The official title card reads Leo McCarey's An Affair to Remember.

To help promote the film, Grant did a product endorsement, something he had tried to avoid for years. In this case, however, he was being honest. The ad was for TWA, his airline of choice.

by Frank Miller

back to top
teaser An Affair to Remember (1957)

AWARDS & HONORS

Hugo Friedhofer came in fifth in the Laurel Awards for Top Music Composer as published in Motion Picture Exhibitor magazine.

Leo McCarey was nominated for the Directors Guild Award.

An Affair to Remember was nominated for four Oscars® -- Best Song, Best Cinematography, Best Score and Best Costume Design.

In the organization's 2005 poll "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions," members of the American Film Institute named An Affair to Remember the fifth greatest love story in American film history. It came in behind Casablanca (1942), Gone with the Wind (1939), West Side Story (1961) and Roman Holiday (1953).

The Critics' Corner: AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

"Adding comedy lines, music, color and CinemaScope, Jerry Wald and Leo McCarey turn this remake of the 1939 Love Affair into a winning film that is alternately funny and tenderly sentimental."
- Variety

"I can't take all this seriously. I don't think you're meant to. The marvel is that these two amazing stars make this weepie fun instead of an ordeal. Happily the chuckles drown the tears....And Kerr? Warmly sensitive, I knew. But that wry comic touch -- it's a revelation."
- Sarah Stoddart, Picturegoer

"As before [in 1939's Love Affair], the attraction of this fable is in the velvety way in which two apparently blas people treat the experience of actually finding themselves in love. This is an immature emotion that is loaded with surprise. And the old script of Love Affair, worked over by Mr. McCarey and Delmer Daves, provides plenty of humorous conversation that is handled crisply in the early reels by Mr. Grant and Miss Kerr....But something goes wrong with the picture, after the couple get off the ship and abandon that area of romantic illusion for the down-to earth realities of dry land. The marriage pact seems ridiculously childish for a couple of adult people to make. The lady's failure to notify her fianc of her accident seems absurd. The fact that the man does not hear of it in some way is beyond belief. And the slowness with which he grasps the obvious when he calls upon the lady is just too thick."
- Bosley Crowther, The New York Times

"A lush slice of Hollywood romanticism."
- MFB [Monthly Film Bulletin]

"Remake of Love Affair, a surprisingly successful mixture of smart lines, sentiment and tears, all applied with style and assurance."
- Halliwell's Film & Video Guide

"Middling remake of McCarey's Love Affair. Bubbling shipboard comedy in first half, overshadowed by draggy soap-opera clichs and unnecessary musical numbers in N.Y.C. finale."
- Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide

"Entertaining enough while the action's still afloat, the plot later gets bogged down in soapy clichs when the characters debark in New York, agreeing to separate and test their love before they marry. Boyer's romantic gravity is much missed in the second half."
- Geoff Andrew, TimeOut Film Guide

"Less rehash than incantation, An Affair to Remember is most affectingly viewed as a dream film. Grant himself allegedly balked at McCarey's decision to film the characters' idyllic Mediterranean interlude in the Fox backlot, yet the unreality of the scenes at the grandmother's home and private chapel, with matte backgrounds and studio lighting, adds to the wistful mood of feelings in tentative bloom. The splendid use of the widescreen, often making Nickie and Terry the warm heart of a cool composition, illustrates the fragility of the couple's idealized romance back in the "real world" while giving lie to the director's supposed indifference to visual expression. McCarey is frequently compared to Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu, and indeed, An Affair to Remember looks back at Love Affair the way Ozu's Floating Weeds [1959] looks back at A Story of Floating Weeds [1934]: as a story that once moved the director, retold in changed times as an act of defiantly anachronistic humanism."
- Fernando F. Croce, Slant Magazine

"Nobody would mistake An Affair to Remember for a master class in cinema. McCarey's widescreen technique is utilitarian, and the third act, in which the lovers are kept apart mostly by Kerr's overactive conscience, spends a lot of time spinning its wheels. Yet the principals are in such fine form, underplaying against their stagy backdrops, and the tragic turn of the plot is so gripping, that the movie succeeds in spite of its white-elephant pedigree. In particular, the famous final scene remains an edge-of-the seat experience, as Grant paces around the immobile Kerr, talking in riddles about who did and didn't show up at the Empire State Building that fateful day."
- Donna Bowman, The Onion A.V. Club

"Leo McCarey's remake of his own Love Affair is a masterful update of a pre-war classic for the post war generation. Yet, regardless of whether you see the original or its remake, An Affair to Remember, the net result is ultimately slated to turn out the same -- bring Kleenex!...Truthfully, the plot of this weepy now seems heavily dated. Though there are some inspired romantic touches, McCarey's melodrama does tend to delve into the critical yawn-and-stretch category of sleepers during its middle section."
- Nick Zegarac, MediaScreen

Compiled by Frank Miller

back to top
teaser An Affair to Remember (1957)

SYNOPSIS: Nickie and Terry fall for each other while on vacation but decide to wait six months to get together because of their attachments to others. When Nickie shows up at the Empire State Building for their long awaited rendezvous, only to find himself stood up, he has no way of knowing that the only thing that kept Terry from meeting him was a car accident. As the days pass after that fateful date, each battles rejection and false pride until Nickie forces a meeting with Terry and learns the truth.

In the '50s, McCarey had hit a career slump following the box office failure of his anti-Communist thriller My Son John (1952). Struck by the number of people who had called Love Affair the best romantic film they had ever seen, he decided the time was ripe for a remake. He also wanted to see if he was still as good a writer and director as he had been.

The result was An Affair to Remember (1957), one of the most popular love stories ever made in Hollywood. Many fans would hail it as the most romantic movie ever made. With its mix of sophistication and sentimentality, the film offers one of the most complete expressions of Leo McCarey's personality as a writer-director. In particular, auteur critics have hailed his ability to make the transition from comedy in the early scenes to the more deeply romantic mood of the film's ending, a characteristic of such other McCarey films as Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945). The film was also McCarey's last great success, capping a career that stretched back to the silent comedies he wrote and directed for Hal Roach.

An Affair to Remember was one of three 1957 films that brought Cary Grant out of retirement after his performance in To Catch a Thief two years earlier. With the critical and box-office failure of his other two 1957 films - The Pride and the Passion and Kiss Them for Me - it provided the success Grant needed to keep him making films until his ultimate retirement in 1966. It remains one of his most popular films and the same is true for Deborah Kerr. Throughout her later years, she was always pleased when she met fans and they told her they had most recently seen her in An Affair to Remember.

An Affair to Remember was the most successful of the three films Grant made with Kerr. Although the two seemed perfectly matched, their other vehicles, Dream Wife (1953) and The Grass Is Greener (1960), did not capture their chemistry as effectively.

An Affair to Remember was nominated for four Oscars® -- Best Song, Best Cinematography, Best Score and Best Costume Design.

In the organization's 2005 poll "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions," members of the American Film Institute named An Affair to Remember the fifth greatest love story in American film history. It came in behind Casablanca (1942), Gone with the Wind (1939), West Side Story (1961) and Roman Holiday (1953).

Director: Leo McCarey
Producer: Jerry Wald
Screenplay: Delmer Daves, McCarey
Based on a story by McCarey, Mildred Cram
Cinematography: Milton Krasner
Editing: James B. Clark
Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler, Jack Martin Smith
Music: Hugo Friedhofer
Cast: Cary Grant (Nickie Ferrante), Deborah Kerr (Terry McKay), Richard Denning (Kenneth), Neva Patterson (Lois), Cathleen Nesbitt (Grandmother), Robert Q. Lewis (Announcer), Fortunio Bonanova (Courbet)
C-115m.

by Frank Miller

back to top