Wednesday, February 27, 2008

An affair to remember

Of course I'd heard of An Affair to Remember -- everyone who is into movies has, at some point or the other. I first heard of it when I was in high school and it played on TV (my Dad told me it was a famous movie). When I started becoming interested in movies, I never really made any effort to see it because its story sounded rather sentimental to me and there were so many other movies that I wanted to watch.

I did see bits and pieces of it but my only frame of reference was Nora Ephron's hip trendy Sleepless in Seattle where an appreciation of An Affair to Remember was put up as the cultural marker between men and women -- the women wept buckets over it, the men did not.

Of course, Sleepless in Seattle is a very slight movie. But the point is -- I never really saw An Affair to Remember until last week and this was because I read Dave Kehr's beautiful piece on it (On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Fox has released a remastered 2-disc DVD edition.)

So here's a clip from Sleepless in Seattle (Yay, youtube!)

And another one:

And now watch last scene of "An Affair to Remember"

And my point? Don't let those silly (even if affectionate) lines from "Sleepless in Seattle" stop you from seeing the movie. An Affair to Remember is not a clever hip little movie that bounces off cultural references and makes fun of its own premise (that would be Sleepless in Seattle). As Kehr says:

“An Affair to Remember” evolves effortlessly, almost invisibly, from light romantic comedy to a kind of spiritual drama, as the characters cast off their public identities (they are both performers: he in the tabloids, she on nightclub stages) and approach their essences: Nickie as a practicing (though still unsuccessful) painter, Terry as a singing teacher who now must use a wheelchair.

Is there another line of dialogue in American movies as gloriously absurd, as heart-stoppingly direct, as Terry’s climactic expression of faith, “If you can paint, I can walk”?

“Yes, darling, yes, yes, yes,” replies Nickie, in a burst of affirmation that constitutes the couple’s true marriage vow. The words burst out in a spontaneous rush (as they may well have on the set: McCarey always left ample room for his actors to improvise), without protective varnish.

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