Leo McCarey had one of the oddest career arcs of any Hollywood auteur, starting out as one of the top comedy directors of the 1930s before becoming one of the best at tearjerking romantic melodramas. McCarey’s interest in the latter actually started in his comedy years, when he made the brutal social-problem-play Make Way For Tomorrow, and the dreamy Love Affair. After he’d switched to dramas semi-permanently, McCarey revisited Love Affair for the superior An Affair To Remember, a lavish DeLuxe/CinemaScope production starring Cary Grant as a bored playboy who’s inspired to pursue his interest in painting when he falls in love with a willful woman (played by Deborah Kerr) on a cruise ship. The two promise each other that they’ll disentangle fully from their former lives and then meet again at the top of the Empire State Building in six months to begin a new adventure together, but circumstances intervene, and each is too proud either to investigate or admit what happened. McCarey draws out the tension of their separation, risking frustrating the audience with the leads’ stubbornness and passive-aggressiveness. But his patience pays off with one of the most emotional final scenes in movie history. An Affair To Remember airs on Turner Classic Movies tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern. The big finish happens about 110 minutes later.
December 08, 2014 Cable Pick Of The Day