An Affair to Remember (1957)

A strong contender for the title of greatest love story ever made, this 1957 classic moves effortlessly from comedy to sentiment, which is par for the course for a Leo McCarey film. He had proven to be a master at mixing laughter and tears in such 1940s hits as Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945). Needing a hit in the ’50s, he looked back to one of his most successful earlier films, Love Affair (1939), which cast Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer as two sophisticates who fall in love on an ocean voyage but decide to test their faith by waiting six months to meet again. For the remake, he coaxed Cary Grant out of retirement and paired him with Deborah Kerr for a film that would become a favorite for both. As he often did, McCarey allowed his stars to improvise in front of the cameras and kept some of their inventions in the final film. The result was a charming, off-the-cuff romance that leavened its heartbreaking moments with sparkling humor. Nora Ephron paid tribute to the film in her 1993 Sleepless in Seattle, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, leading to an additional two million sales of the 1957 film on VHS.

(d. Leo McCarey, 119 m, Digital)

In attendance: Tara McNamara