Romantik om bord
I actually like a good romantic comedy. A funny and intelligent romantic comedy is a guilty pleasure and working my way through the list I have watched a lot of good ones through the thirties and the first half of the forties. The classic screwball comedy is rom-com at its peak.
Sadly “An Affair to remember” is not such a movie.
Instead it presses all the wrong buttons for me and in the end I do not know whether to laugh or to cry. According to the Book it has won such accolades as being named the most romantic movie ever. This baffles me and I suppose say a bit about such a jury. You want “most romantic movie”? Try “Brief Encounter”.
Where to start…
Nicolò (Nickie) Ferrante (Cary Grant) and Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) meet on a cruise ship crossing the Atlantic and fall in love. Nickie is a playboy with no job or profession and Terry is… well later we find out she is a famous singer, but initially we know very little of her. This is first time my eyebrows go up, we know practically nothing of these two people but that they seem to be good at fooling around. It gradually occurs to me that they must be rather young. Based on Nickie’s grandmother I would place him mid-thirties and Terry a bit less, maybe late twenties. Yet Cary Grant was 53 at the time and looked closer to sixty and Kerr albeit “only” 36 looks and acts as if she was in her mid-forties. This is rather confusing. Are these people middle aged acting silly or are they young people with very conservative tastes? A half explanation is that this is 1957 and the world looked like this, but I am not buying it.
Anyway, the first half of the movie takes place on this cruise ship where they are having an affair, but eagerly trying to hide it. Nickie is supposed to get married and Terry has some dude waiting for her (but is not married, heaven forbid). This is mildly funny because the entire ship knows of the affair. A wealthy and chubby fan gets constantly snubbed by Nickie and Terry and those incidents are (sadly) the second funniest elements of the movie. There is a lot of banter between the two, but it never reaches the heights that we know Leo McCarey and Cary Grant are capable of. Finally, before disembarking they promise each other to sort things out and meet on top of Empire State Building in six months.
Six month later Nickie is waiting on the top floor, Terry is running to meet her appointment… and is run down by a car and hurts her legs. Obviously she cannot make her appointment, but she also refuses to meet or even leave a message for Nickie until she can walk again. Nickie is understandably disappointed, not just by being burned, but by being dumped altogether. He has given up his lifestyle and become a poor painter, though I do not entirely understand how he suddenly loses his wealth, and goes through a lot of pain.
Finally Nickie finds Terry in her apartment and in a roundabout way tries to find out what on Earth happened. Even at this point Terry refuses to tell Nickie that she cannot walk. Apparently she prefers the pain she is inflicting both of them. When he finally finds out what is bugging her Nickie asks the question I have been dying to ask for the past half hour “Why did you not let me know?”. The crucial question of the entire movie. But before she can answer he follows up with the bland and irrelevant question “why did it happen to us?” and thereby cheats me for the answer.
The entire premise of the drama is so incredibly stupid that I almost gave up on watching it. Did she really think that he would take it bad that she had an accident? And what kind of person prefers to inflict so much pain and uncertainty to save her pride. It just makes no sense at all.
Add to this the sappy sentimentality that clings to everything in this movie like sticky molasses, such as the children choir or the final line: “If you can paint, I can walk; anything can happen, don't you think?". Ugh.
The one element I really liked was Nickie’s grandmother, (Cathleen Nesbitt). She was a witty and feisty old lady with a sparkle in her eyes. She made me crack up, but the bliss was unfortunately short-lived.
I doubt this is a movie I will be watching again. There are too many better rom-coms around. Think of watching it? Do yourself a favor and pick “The Awful Truth” instead.