AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER
AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER ($20) is long considered the king (or queen) of weepy tearjerkers; having its a status brought home to a new generation of movie fans, when the film became an integral part of the plot of the wildly popular SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE. Aside from its more weepy aspects, AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER is a highly entertaining movie because of the wonderful interplay of its two stars Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, which shows the two British thespians at the top of their game. Grant and Kerr exhibit an incredible screen chemistry in this film, as well as interjecting a great deal of humor with the playful nature of their performances. Of course, when AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER shows its serious side, both performers are more than up to the task, especially Grant who demonstrates a level of emotional depth that one rarely sees in the characters the screen legend usually played.
In AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER Grant portrays well known playboy Nickie Ferrante, who is making a transatlantic voyage to America to marry his very wealthy fiancée. While at sea, Nickie has a chance encounter with fellow passenger, Terry McKay (Kerr), who is returning to America to the man she loves. Wholly aware of Nikkie’s reputation with the ladies, Terry maintains a polite detachment in her dealings with the notorious playboy. However, when the two disembark at a port of call that allows Nikkie to visit his elderly Grandmother Janou (Cathleen Nesbitt), romance finally blossoms between Terry and Nikkie. Upon their return to American the lovebirds agree to meet again in six months at the top of the Empire State Building, allowing each enough time to end the prior commitments in their lives. However, at the appointed time of Nikkie and Terry’s rendezvous, destiny steps in, threatening to permanently end their love affair. The cast of AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER also includes Richard Denning, Neva Patterson, Robert Q. Lewis and Charles Watts.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for 16:9 displays. This is the second time that Fox has issued AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER on DVD, with this edition offering definite improvements to the previous rehash of the widescreen Laserdisc transfer. The DeLuxe color on the Laserdisc was less than thrilling, so I never bothered with the first DVD release. However, this second time around, not only is AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER enhanced for 16:9 displays, I find the colors to be a genuine improvement. Hues are far more consistent throughout the course of the film, there is no overt fading of the colors and flesh tones are more natural looking than other DeLuxe films from the same period. Some of the colors are surprisingly well saturated, plus the reds veer less towards orange than they did in previous video and broadcast versions of the film.
The image itself is reasonably sharp and well defined, although there were certain limitations in the CinemaScope lenses and cinematography from that period that keep AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER from looking as crisp as a brand new movie. Also, some of the rear screen projection work is a bit obvious, and a hair soft looking. Blacks appear accurate, although the whites can appear a tad off. Contrast is fairly smooth, although shadow detail gets a bit muddy towards the darker end of the spectrum. The film element used to transfer this 1957 release shows few signs of age, with very minor scratches and other forms of debris rarely being noticeable. A grain structured can be glimmered at various times throughout the course of the movie. There are a few shots in which the film grain appears a bit heavier than others, but even then, it is not particularly bothersome. Digital compression artifacts are well tamed by solid authoring.
AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack that decodes to standard surround. Personally, I would have liked it if the original 4 channel magnetic stereo soundtrack had been included on the DVD, as Fox did with other CinemaScope releases from the same period. The matrixed version of the track seems a bit flat, with almost none of the big, wide fifties stereo flavor carried over into this mix. There is none of the directional dialogue that was prevalent in the era, and noticeable stereo imaging seems confined to the film’s score. Fidelity is reasonably good for a film approaching its fiftieth anniversary, but the 4 channel might have been a bit richer sounding. Background hiss and surface noise have been cleaned up significantly, leaving no audible distractions on the track. Dialogue is crisp and always fully understandable. French stereo and Spanish monaural language tracks have also been encoded onto the DVD, in addition to English and Spanish subtitles.
The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few supplemental features. Starting things off is a running audio commentary featuring film historian Joseph McBride and singer Marni Nixon (who provided Deborah Kerr's singing voice in this film, as well as THE KING AND I). This is a very informative and entertaining track, with both participants providing interesting bits on the production and the personalities involved. Next up is AMC Backstory: An Affair To Remember, a twenty-four minute program that offers a look at the making of the movie, as well as profiling Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr and director Leo McCarey, who utilized this opportunity to remake his classic 1939 film LOVE AFFAIR in CinemaScope and color. Filling out the supplements is newsreel footage of the film's shipboard premiere, a still gallery, theatrical trailer and bonus trailers.
With this DVD reissue of AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER Fox has finally done right by this by this romantic classic. If you are a movie buff, Cary Grant or Deborah Kerr fan, or are just looking to have a good cry, you will want to add AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER to your DVD collection. Recommended.
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