Love Affair (1939) Poster

(1939)

User Reviews

Review this title
52 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
9/10
Heartbreakingly moving and multi-layered. (spoilers)
the red duchess19 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the most moving films from Hollywood's Golden Age. It is moving because of its beautifully simple plot. This plot is divided into three parts: the meeting and developing relationship of the central couple; the trip to Michel's grandmother; and the heartrending sequence of planned happiness, fate, despair, betrayal, hope.

The first and third part work so well because the characters are so sympathetic, we watch them believably transform from amiably superfical loafers to genuinely loving adults. This transformation is believable because the raw material was pretty good to begin with: Michel might seem almost intolerably playboy material, the archetypal French lover that only exists in non-French imaginations, all corny lines and cynical intention, but the trip to the grandmother's suggests his true value.

However, he needs more life lessons than Terry. Maybe this is because Irene Dunne's persona, in films like 'Cimarron' or 'Show Boat', was based on moral transformation, on the difficult negotiation of the road to adulthood through life. Charles Boyer, well, he's French, isn't he? So whereas Terry is completely transformed by the visit, Michel has more difficulty in letting go of his ego. Terry's failure to meet the appointment is a personal affront: he never once asks why she mightn't have made it. Because he is French, and a playboy, he is cynical about women and their motives, can't take anything on trust. This is what makes the final scene so truly moving - two lovers who really need to be together are reunited, yes, but also, Michel finally comes to full moral awareness, full maturity.

It is, ironically, his own painting that reveals the truth to him (his artform in her territory). The romance narrative is framed in terms of art: Michel is a failed/abandoned painter and poet; Terry is a singer - the transformation scene occurs over the grandmother's piano player (her artform on his territory). The couple meet again at the theatre.

This is part of a wider dialectic about public roles and private desire. The film opens with various global radio gossips announcing Michel's engagement: his personal life is conducted in public, complete with groupies, autographs, paparazzi. His developing relationship with Terry is similarly framed, the audience on the boat eagerly watching it like a soap opera.

The first appeal of the grandmother's house is its quiet, its distance from the world. It is also the place we first learn that the protagonists are artists. it is at this point they begin the inexorable, but slow and obstacle-laden, road from public to private, from an agog dancing hall to a solitary apartment. Art helps them express their personal essences apart from their public reputations, but it also must go through the public mart before it can express private truths - Terry becomes a nightclub singer, then an orphanage instructor; Michel paints on billboards, than for clients.

It is only when art is made private - when Terry accompanies the grandmother; when Michel sees his painting in Terry's bedroom - that is truths are revealed. This last revelation is brilliantly framed by McCarey: we see the painting in a mirror, continuing a visual and structural pattern leading the heroes to self-awareness.

For me, the film is moving for another reason. The grandmother scene is obviously the crucial one. Although we first meet her in a chapel, she is more like a witch, or fairy godmother, her home an enchanted realm. It is her mischievous suggestion that breaks both friends' pre-destined course: after her purpose is achieved, she vanishes. Waiting to die to return to her husband, we are reminded of Charles Boyer's biography and are doubly moved.

But there's more. Both Terry and Michel seem equally lightweight until this visit, but immediately we see Michel connected to a culture, a family, a religion that goes back centuries, that has seemingly unbreakable roots, while Terry, an American, has 'nothing' but a wise drunken father. This is a central stop of a trip from Europe to America; here Terry acquires European culture, a depth her own country doesn't have.

This is one reason the piano sequence is so powerful. But there's another. Although the film never mentions events in Europe, we don't have to look too hard in this tale of a rich European intellectual doing menial work in the States, in this film full of refugees and travel: when the cultured widow of a French diplomat dies in 1939, we are losing more than an old woman.
29 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
undeservedly ignored
MartinHafer16 February 2006
I can't believe that this film is so forgotten by the film viewing public. This film is one of the better romances of the 1930s but, thanks to a mention of AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER in the movie SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER is now considered a "classic"--But how can this be...?! After all, LOVE AFFAIR is the original and AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER is a by-the-numbers and relatively boring remake. Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne are wonderful in this film. And, the direction and writing were excellent. However, doing NEARLY the exact same film two decades later seems pointless. I like Cary Grant and have nothing in particular against Deborah Kerr--but they just aren't as good as the originals.

Do yourself a favor. If you haven't seen either film, watch this one first. And, if you have seen only AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, see this film and find out how beautiful and well-made this film is. Also, if you like LOVE AFFAIR, try seeing another great romance, SMILIN' THROUGH (1932). It has a lot in common with LOVE AFFAIR and you can even see that the writers of this later film "borrowed" one of the plot twists from SMILIN' THROUGH.
56 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A technical comment (mostly)...
gregcouture16 November 2004
I'd always been curious about this original version of the romantic 1957 hit, "An Affair to Remember" which was a bona fide box-office success, made so memorable by the classy pairing of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. That CinemaScope remake in Color by DeLuxe, of this black-and-white original, was also co-written and directed by Leo McCarey, a man who wasn't afraid to regularly mix genuine sentiment with some fairly gloppy sentimentality in the same (admittedly tasty) cinematic dish.

I join those who prefer the original, thanks mostly to the restrained and very professional performances of a quite young-looking Charles Boyer and Miss Irene Dunne, who looks quite ravishing throughout (modelling some gowns that are as chic today as the first time this film was shown). And what a set of pearly whites she had... the better to charm the stuffing out of us with that glowing smile!

Anyway, Turner Classic Movies showed it the other evening and I couldn't believe the terrible condition of the print. Scratches, skips, muddiness, sound problems, every possible defect seemed to be in appalling evidence! Apparently the DVD now in circulation is every bit as bad. Hey! Come on guys! This film is considered one of the better ones during a year (1939) when Hollywood studios unleashed a cornucopia of goodies. How about giving us a version worth watching, for heaven's sake!
47 out of 51 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Ocean voyage
jotix10021 April 2005
"Love Affair", the fabulously romantic film of 1939, is the model in which two other remakes were fashioned, yet, this classic film stands out in our memory because the great chemistry between Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer.

The stars of "Love affair" exuded charm and sophistication, as well as good looks. It's easy to see why Michel falls for the beautiful Terry on board the luxury liner that is bringing them back to New York. The passengers' curiosity play well in the ship sequences. It's a great fun to watch Michel and Terry fall madly in love with one another, yet they must resolve their own entanglements with other people in order to be able to be together. Fate gets in their way.

Irene Dunne was an exquisite woman that played everything with enormous panache. Charles Boyer matches his co-star as the suave playboy who suddenly finds the love of his life. It's a joy to watch these two actors filling the screen. They made it so easy that their acting seems effortless.

In minor roles Maria Ouspenskaya, is seen as Michel's grandmother Janou, a lady who saw in Terry the perfect woman for her grandson. Lee Bowman is Kenneth, and Astrid Allwyn is the elegant Lois.

Thanks to Leo McCarey, this is a timeless film that will bring joy to audiences forever.
32 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
The Original and Still Best Version of the Classic Tearjerker
EUyeshima11 October 2006
Directed by Leo McCarey, this 1939 romantic classic is the first and best version of the old warhorse of a fateful shipboard romance between an aimless playboy and a nightclub singer, both engaged but appearing to be destined to reunite on the top floor of the Empire State Building. The elaborate, shot-for-shot 1957 remake again directed by McCarey with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr is much better known, and Warren Beatty even saw fit to remake it yet again with his wife Annette Bening for a 1994 update featuring an 87-year old Katharine Hepburn in her last film role.

But it all started with this more modest film starring a smart, luminous Irene Dunne as Terry McKay and Charles Boyer all continental charm as Michel Marnet. The story is as contrived as ever, but the script co-written by McCarey, Mildred Cram, Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart is full of clever dialogue to go with the soap opera elements. It's too bad the print condition is so bad given that it has fallen into the public domain, but you can still get a strong sense of the craftsmanship behind the film, especially Rudolph Maté's soft-focus cinematography.

Even though Maria Ouspenskaya gives her most sympathetic performance as Grandmother Janou (she was wonderfully malevolent in "The Wolf Man"), it's really the chemistry between the two stars which keeps this afloat, especially Dunne who was so dexterous in comedy and drama in her prime that she is far superior to either Kerr or Bening. She even gets to sing two songs most winningly, one a Harold Arlen gem called "Sing My Heart". Even though you are likely to know every scene by heart from the 1957 remake, it's still quite worthwhile to enjoy the antiquated charms of the original.
12 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
wonderful movie. I love it!
conniethompson17 July 2000
Love Affair is one of my favorite movies. Irene Dunne is a lovely lady, who sings beautifully. Charles Boyer is a subtle, elegant actor who wins my heart every time. Maria Ouspenskaya is lovely as Boyer's grandmother. I understand from Boyer's biography, that he suggested the scene with her as a method of making his character more sympathetic. What an addition to the film! I prefer this version of the story to the later one. Watch the scene near the end when Boyer realizes that his painting was given to Dunne and understands what happened the night he waited at the Empire State Building. What acting!
23 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
What a wonderful film!
henken27 March 2000
This is a film of two genuine moods. The first half or so is a romantic story in the fine 1930s comedic tradition. The dialogue is witty, the characters charming, and the developing romance a joy to watch. The second half is a drama which is deep and engaging. The dignity with which the characters act through trying circumstances is wonderful, and a marked contrast and relief to the hysterical characters found in contemporary movies. To have two such different moods both handled with such extreme skill in the same movie makes this a rare gem.

The acting is superb; both Dunne and Boyer play with believable subtlety and emotional power. They drew me in so I cared enormously. Maria Ouspenskaya is, as always, superb. Compare her performance here with her blistering performance in her similar-but-opposite role in Dodsworth. The direction is very straightforward in its service to the story, with only the occasional standout moments: look for the superb shots of the couple's first kiss, of the reflected empire state building, and of the double headline. With a story and acting as strong as this, that's exactly as it should be.
11 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Such An Appealing Story
bkoganbing14 December 2005
When a film gets done three times for three generations, I guess you have to concede it's definitely got something going for it.

Lovers Charles Boyer/Irene Dunne, Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr, and Warren Beatty/Annette Bening all have their different appeal, but I think the story is universal. What woman who's seen this film hasn't dreamed of an ocean voyage where she will meet the love of her life?

Earnest and hopeful Irene Dunne goes on an ocean voyage where she meets continental playboy Charles Boyer. He's definitely a love 'em and leave 'em type, but there's something about Irene that keeps drawing him back.

It doesn't help that both are involved with different people. But this is the movies and we all know how things work out on film.

Mention should also be made of Maria Ouspenskaya as Boyer's beloved grandmother. She's a grand old lady and you know when I guy takes a girl home to meet granny, it's a sign he's hooked.

Lee Bowman is Irene's involvement and he's such a good guy, I kind of feel sorry for him he's getting dumped.

Leo McCarey directs these romantic films with a sure hand. For lovers of romance of all ages.
21 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Wonderful, charming, great performance
plantjen2 January 2005
I didn't really intend to watch this whole movie--it was on the channel my satellite dish was tuned to, when i turned off my DVD player after watching another movie, late at night. But after only a couple scenes, i was glued to it! I was so impressed with the characterization and the witty humor (unlike other films of its era, the humor was not corny at all, and was genuinely funny), and I just HAD to keep watching, even though I wasn't looking forward to the tears that this film (and its later version, An Affair to Remember), is reputed to bring to all who watch it.

The humor centering around the nosiness and gossip among the other cruise patrons, was especially funny and timeless.

I found Irene Dunn's character (Terry) to be extremely appealing and likable, with a very expressive and beautiful face (and, as someone else mentioned, those pearly whites are stunning!). Boyer (Michael), was quite believable as a playboy experiencing true love for the first time. You could see the love in his eyes when he looked at Terry, and when he listened to her sing. And all of his other emotions throughout the movie, whether happy or sad, were readable via his expressive eyes alone--no need for any other expression!

Of course, the children at the orphanage were too good to be true (typical for old movies), but they were so adorable and likable, and I could just feel the love and pride that Terry felt while working with them. It really seemed genuine.

I had always thought of these old movies as corny, but this one changed my perspective! Highly recommended for all ages!
20 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1939 - the classic Hollywood year
Schlockmeister21 July 2002
What a year that was... 1939! So many great movies produced in a 12 month period! And this ranks up there with any of them. especially if you are looking for a romance.

Irene Dunne is wonderful in her role, her expressive face conveyed her emotions and reactions so well it is like reading her mind. She ws beautiful and charming and perfect in her part. Charles Boyer as the quintessential French gadabout, seemingly unfeeling toward women but true love melts his heart.

Yes this indeed was the original "Meet me at the top of the Empire Stae Building" film and it sets a standard hard to beat.

Recommended highly, would make a great triple feature with "An Affair To Remember" and "Sleepless In Seattle". (in that order)
14 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Romantic Dream
Ishallwearpurple2 September 2001
This is the best of the two films (Love Affair, An Affair To Remember). I love the two stars; Boyer has never been so charming and Irene so darn loveable. The song "Wishing" by the 3 little girls gets to me every time. Just so sweet. And Irene sings two lovely songs herself. The scene at the end when Boyer looks at his painting and realizes what has happened to keep his love from him is so much more true than when Grant does the same in "Affair" that it makes all the difference. I always think Grant is too obviously acting, and it just doesn't ring true. But Boyer does it just right.

The story has been reviewed many times here so I won't do it again. Just say that the spell cast by the film is perfect for all romantics. Just watch and enjoy.
29 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
The original version of this classic is still the best
itsmits5 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have watched the three versions of this movie plus the related "Sleepless In Seattle" several times. I find that the original 1939 is the most pleasing from the standpoint of story exposition as well as portrayals. The crucial piano performance by Maria Ouspenskaya and accompanying vocalization by Irene Dunne seems to me to be the heart of the relationship that develops between Terry and Michel. To appreciate Ouspenskaya's performance, one only has to view "Waterloo Bridge" with Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor to see the range of her acting skills. "Plaisir D'Amour" is actually a ballad written in 1798. It can often be heard as background music in many movies as well as in other versions.(Listen to Elvis sing 'Take My Hand')

"Wishing" seems to be more consistent with the story line than does its counterpart in "An Affair to Remember". (Maybe that's why it earned an Academy Award nomination in the competitive year of "Over The Rainbow".) The Terry McKay quote regarding '. . .is either illegal, immoral or fattening.' was actually Alexander Wolcott, wasn't it? In the remake, Leo McCarey had the advantage of newer technology and Technicolor but how can you improve on a masterpiece?
8 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Romantic and witty melodrama brought to life by fine cast and nice direction
ma-cortes27 March 2009
This timeless classic movie and superior adaptation deals about the known story of a wealthy singles(Charles Boyer,Irenee Dunne) on an Ocean liner . They know themselves and falling spontaneously in love but they're both recently engaged. Boyer and Dunne promise their love on the Empire State Building where agree a meeting months later, to see if their love still holds . But the tragedy takes place and Boyer bounds for Island Madeira.

This magnificent tearjerker is a clever tale plenty of good feeling, love story and unforgettable scenes in which the spectators ever feel drawn into the protagonists lives . The perceptible script is brought to life by a perfectly cast ensemble, as the wonderful Irene Dunne, the attractive Charles Boyer and the veteran Maria Ouspenskaya in a small but touching role; plus interventions very secondaries by Gerald Mohr and Joan Leslie. The usual RKO's musician Roy Webb composes a lush romantic score makes it easy on the ears. Expert cameraman Rudolph Mate creates a superb camera work full of fine detail. The motion picture is stunningly directed by Leo McCarey who directed a good remake, though inferior version, titled ¨Love affair(1957)¨with Gary Grant, Deborah Kerr and Richard Denning . Another and lesser version about this weepie story in contemporary look are the following :¨Sleepless in Seattle(1993)¨ by Nora Ephron with Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan and ¨Love affair(1994)¨ by Glenn Gordon Caron with real life marriage , Warren Beatty and Anette Bening, and Katherine Hepburn.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Often imitated, rarely duplicated
robb_7724 May 2006
Unarguably one of the all-time greatest romantic "weepies," director/co-writer Leo McCarey's ten-hankie classic has been overshadowed somewhat in the last few decades by the phenomenal success of it's popular remake, 1957's AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (which McCarey also directed). The 1957 is the version that is most seen on television and on video (perhaps because it is in color and stars Cary Grant), but the original is the real winner in terms of quality. Very few movies can successfully make the transition form shipboard romantic comedy to tearjerking sentiment, but LOVE AFFAIR really nails the formula without missing a beat. The film side-steps saccharine mawkishness by keeping the reactions and emotions of it's character's believable and simple, and thankfully never descends in to soap opera-level histrionics.

The always-terrific Irene Dunne earned yet another Oscar nomination for her delightful and sincere performance in what is unarguably one of her best-loved roles. Charles Boyer proves himself to a more than apt leading man, and his transformation from English rouge to broken-hearted soul is astonishing. There is significantly more chemistry between Boyer and Dunne there would be between Grant and Deborah Kerr or Warren Beatty and Annette Bening in the 1957 and 1994 versions, respectively, which lends the film a greater emotional wallop. Nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, LOVE AFFAIR is one of the best film romances from Hollywood's golden era and should be as widely seen as the later remakes.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
She Did Not Reach the Place Nearest to Heaven
claudio_carvalho12 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
While in a cruise from Europe to New York to get married with his fiancée and heir of a great fortune in USA, the disputed bachelor sportsman Michel Marnet (Charles Boyer) meets the gorgeous former night-club singer Terry McKay (Irene Dunne), who is returning to her supportive boy-friend, and they have a love affair and fall in love for each other. They schedule to reunite on the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building six months later, on July 1st, to decide whether they should marry each other or not. On the scheduled date, while crossing the street to go to the meeting, Terry is hit by a car and is not able to meet Michel.

After "Casablanca", "An Affair to Remember" is probably my favorite romance ever. Today I have just seen "Love Affair", which has been recently released on DVD in Brazil, and I am mesmerized with this film, certainly one of the most beautiful, charming and brokenhearted love stories of the cinema industry. Although also adorable, "An Affair to Remember" is practically a remake frame-by-frame if this original version. Irene Dunne is simply astonishing, with one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen, and it is impossible not fall in love for her. Her witty, delightful and sometimes even ironical lines seem to be ahead of time. Her chemistry with Charles Boyer is awesome, and this unforgettable dramatic love story is a must-see for any sensitive and romantic viewer. She did not reach the place nearest to heaven, and left us with tears in our eyes. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "Poema de Amor" ("Poem of Love")
13 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Exquisite and soul-stirringly poignant.
RogerTheMovieManiac8817 August 2013
'Love Affair' is an astonishingly beautiful and tender movie that, thanks to consummate technical contributions, makes a fair play at being the definitive Hollywood romance. Perusing the credits, one absorbs all those names of legend. From Leo McCarey all the way down, they certainly succeeded in enveloping a relatively straight-forward scenario in the most delicate and all-consuming of atmospheres. McCarey said that he liked his characters 'to walk in clouds' and that he wished to portray a 'little bit of the fairy-tale' in his movies. A dreamy, entrancing mood is created early on and sustained throughout. The soft-focus cinematography of the wonderful Rudolph Mate is instrumental in expressing the fleet-footed and gaily ethereal air of the ship-bound scenes. Such technical excellence, allied to a first-class screenplay by Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart, gives an added wallop to the emotional impact delivered by several unforgettable acting performances.

Chief among these is that of Irene Dunne. This is the finest that I have ever seen her, and that really is saying quite something! 'Love Affair' would have been half the movie it is, with any other actress in the role of Terry. She inhabits the role so perfectly and brings an uncomplicated timelessness to proceedings. The chemistry between Terry and Charles Boyer's Michel is palpable, from their very first inspired meeting through a port-hole window, and this feeds into the ambiance of adventurous light-heartedness. There is a charming, whimsical vitality and freshness to the subliminal glances and little, knowing giggles of the first half.

Dunne said that 'comedy demands more timing, pace, shading and subtlety of emphasis. It is difficult to learn but once it is acquired it can be easily slowed down and becomes an excellent foundation for dramatic acting'. The gay abandon of the repartee and ensuing romance is an enduring example of this quote being realised in the most captivating fashion. Dunne is funny and vivacious and reveals what fantastic dramatic capabilities she possessed. Watching 'Love Affair' in a double-bill with 'My Favorite Wife' allows one to realise the incredible range and depth of personality that she managed to impart.

The tranquil sojourn on Madeira with Michel's grandmother (Maria Ouspenskaya) adds immeasurable profundity to the movie. The place is so quiet and peaceful that it makes for a tremendous framing device. The audience sees Terry and Michel in a more revealing and personal light away from the prying, inquisitive eyes aboard the ship. It would seem that Boyer suggested the grandmother scenes as a way of fleshing-out his playboy character. It certainly was a swell idea by him, if so!

The ensuing tragedy and eventual reconciliation of lovers is beautifully and poignantly presented. 'An Affair to Remember' has rather usurped this movie in the collective consciousness, but the later version has nothing on the texture and feeling that permeates right through this picture. This is the version that should nestle in the hearts of movie-lovers the world over. Otis Ferguson put it well when he said that 'clichés of situation and attitude are lifted almost beyond recognition by a morning freshness of eye for each small thing around'. 'Love Affair' is nigh on the quintessential Hollywood romance and a movie to eternally cherish for its all-round beauty and refined, romantic charm.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
A Classic Left The Way It Is!
Sylviastel10 July 2011
Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer star in this romantic film about two potential lovers who come across on a cruise ship. First, they are magnificent and Hollywood legends. The film's been remade but I don't think it holds a candle to the original. Anyway, they travel on the ship and get to know each other. Dunne's character McKay plans to meet her Michel (played by Boyer) at the top of the Empire State Building on July 1. She describe the building as the closest to the heavens in New York City. Michel is an aspiring artist and Dunne plays an aspiring singer. Will they meet? Will something or somebody stop them? You have to wonder what the outcome will be with these two lovers? I won't spoil the story. Maria Oupenskaya does a marvelous job as Michel's grandmother. The rest of the cast is also fine but I don't recall many of their names. But this film made the Empire State Building a romantic location rather than just a tourist attraction. Still it's one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
what a great movie!
smw38014 March 1999
I loved this movie! I think it's a lot better than An Affair To Remember, which I always want to love more than I do. There's such great chemistry between Dunne and Boyer. And though it lags a bit in the second half, and there are a couple too many scenes with kids singing, I was enchanted throughout.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
McCarey's Gift
harry-7613 November 2003
Leo McCarey's lovegift to moviegoers of that golden year of filmmaking, 1939, "Love Affair" shines as a beautifully acted and mounted melodrama.

Two of filmdom's finest actors, Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer, take the leads in this original filming of this touching romance (later done as "An Affair to Remember").

For some legal reasons, Dunne's films are presently hard to find and rarely shown. Yet she remains a remarkable film actress, never having given less than an excellent performance.

Boyer's career matches Dunne's perfectly. Obviously born to be an actor, he was always on top of every role, delivering subtle performances that were peerless.

While Dunne is presently semi-forgotten, Boyer's work has kept him in public view, thanks to numerous screenings of his lengthy canon. As a personal note, I'm constantly reminded of his ultimate real life termination at his own hand. While this doesn't at all affect his work, it's still a revealing footnote to an otherwise spotless career.

"Love Story" is a touching romance, and continues to move viewers on each showing.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Love Affair
swifty7722 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Nominated for six Oscars way back when, 'Love Affair' starts as an interestingly fresh kind of romance movie. We meet our lovers, Terry and Michel on a boat cruise and the first half of the movie focuses on their bonding: a great tip I learnt from Michel is that taking your girl on her first date to visit your grandmother is a winner. The main reason we never feel guilty that our protagonists are engaging in a softcore affair is that we never really meet their spouses and when they enter the story, we are already rooting for the pairing that is 'Tichel', with their undeniable chemistry. However, after their first meeting goes to shizz when Terry is involved in an accident, the plot starts to slack. The entire last third of the movie turns into a Christmas musical for some reason and although Terry and Michel get their emotional conversation at the end of the movie, you can't help but feel annoyed they didn't get to spend more time together.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Before Grant and Kerr there was Boyer and Dunne!
inkblot1110 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Terry McKay (Irene Dunne), a nightclub singer from the States, goes on a sea voyage to Europe. At this time, the Thirties, Atlantic crossings take at least a couple of weeks. One day, a love letter falls at her feet, through a porthole. But, its not for her! It was written for a gentleman, Michel (Charles Boyer) who accidentally let it fall. Terry begins to tease the man, who is rather famous for being both rich and a playboy. Newly engaged, this letter turns out not even to be from his own fiancé. Seeming bored with life in general, despite his approaching nuptials, he is struck by Terry's forthright and independent nature. Before long, he introduces her to his grandmother on Madeira and finds out that Terry has excellent musical abilities. Indeed, the grandmother likes Terry so much she vows to leave her a beautiful shawl upon her own death. So, its complicated. Terry has a steady boyfriend and Michel has his lady, What do they do with the budding feelings of love that are arriving, unbidden? Keeping boundaries, they nevertheless declare their passion for one another but agreed to wait six months. If, at the end of that time, they both show up on top of the Empire State Building near Christmas, they will marry. If one doesn't show, it will mean that it was never meant to be and they will never meet again. For six months, Terry moves to Philadelphia and scores it big as the headliner at a swanky nightclub. As the all important day approaches, she goes shopping for a new dress. But, just as she is crossing the street to see her beloved Michel, she is hit by a car and ends up in the hospital. Michel, stung, doesn't know about this, only believes that she really didn't love him after all. Will they really live separate lives from this point on? Before the enchanting An Affair to Remember, with Grant and Kerr, there was this lovely version of nearly the same story. Dunne is wonderful as the spunky Terry and, sister, she can sing! Boyer, too, is charming, elegant and romantic as Michel. The rest of the cast is nice, as is the scenery, costumes, storyline and vivid direction. Go back in time, why don't you, and choose this wonderful romance some enchanted evening!
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
"The nearest thing to heaven"
Steffi_P19 July 2011
It says something for the strength of a story when it can be made twice and still be just as good second time round. Remakes are usually odious things, second-rate bastardisations of a sacred classic that should never have got the green light. However when director Leo McCarey remade Love Affair in 1957 as An Affair to Remember it worked just as well as the original. The later picture has become better known, but Love Affair is still a wonderful thing in its own right.

Arguably the biggest difference between the two versions is the cast. Love Affair sees Irene Dunne in what is perhaps the finest performance of her career, showing off all the varied strands of her talent. Dunne was one of the first stars who could combine a fantastic singing voice with real acting ability. When she sings she puts feeling into every note and gesture, making the songs blend seamlessly into her character's emotional development. And she could do comedy as well as the boys, often developing a ballsy rapport with her leading men as she does here with Charles Boyer. Boyer is not quite as breezily likable as Cary Grant would be in 1957 (and ironically, Grant could just as easily have played this role in 1939), but he is a strong dramatic performer and certainly fits the bill. Maria Ouspenskaya is very good too. Her role is negligible in terms of screen time but it has a bearing on the whole plot, and despite her frailty and quietness Ouspenskaya has the necessary presence to deliver a suitably memorable performance.

The cast may vary, but the director is the same for both versions, and when McCarey came to do the remake he followed the original almost shot-for-shot. The implication is that his earlier work was already good enough, which it certainly is. McCarey calls upon his silent comedy background as usual, making use of long takes, subtle manoeuvres and compositions in depth. Sometimes this is as comical as it is meaningful – Dunne and Boyer sitting side-by-side at their separate tables for one is like a sight gag. Other times it is dramatically poignant. The couple's heartfelt talk on the last night of the cruise is shot in one very long take, but rather than making it completely static, the director shows us the gentle rocking of the ship as a tender counterpoint. That's typical McCarey, finding ways of keeping things moving without looking artificial or going against the mood of the scene.

But perhaps the biggest secret to the dual success of the two versions is that wonderful screenplay. We have an original story by McCarey and Mildred Cram, fashioned into a screenplay by Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart. McCarey always had a nose for a heartrending love story and Stewart pretty much defined the romantic drama of the 30s and 40s. The romance develops naturally – it's not one of those misogynistic quasi-abductions you often see in movies of this period. The fateful twist is perhaps a little trite and melodramatic, but everything that comes before has been set up with such an easygoing realism that the bolt-from-the-blue is acceptable. The final resolution is just what we would expect, but it is done with a delicate simplicity that makes its impact very real. An Affair to Remember may be the better known picture, but both versions seem to fit into their own era with really very little difference between them. The reason of course is that Love Affair has that uncomplicated timelessness, which still makes it a moving experience today.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Film music
jcain318 September 2001
The song played on the piano by the grandmother and sung by Irene Dunne is Martini's "Plaisir D'Amour (Pleasure of Love). It has been a classic since its French release in 1932.It was recorded then by Yvonne Printemps (1894-1977). Her recording is with harpsichord accompaniment.
7 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
The story line is old, but this was the orignial
normbeaulieu6 January 2002
Very good picture. It's the original "meet you at the top of the Empire State building" movie. Irene Dunne shines in this. Good classic to watch. An Affair to Remember is far distant secondary film to this. Proves again that 1939 was the best year for movies. A strong "8" rating.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Get your handkerchief out!
marxsarx2 March 2003
This seems to be the movie that "Sleepless in Seattle" starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is a remake of. Actually, "Love Affair", in my estimation is the better of the two movies. "Love Affair" starts off a bit slowly when Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer meet aboard a ship sailing for America. Boyer is a casanova who is planning to be married and Dunne has a boyfriend. They engage in much light hearted and witty banter. Sometimes they are funny and sometimes their dialogue and jokes are extremely dated and difficult to follow. However, once the two lovebirds go to meet Charles Boyer's grandmother (movingly portrayed by Maria Ouspenskaya) and spend an afternoon with her at one of the ship's stops, this movie really takes off. At that point, this movie develops a sincerity that one feels in his gut. From that point on we know that that this man and this woman are meant to be together. The question is, will they end up together or not, and this film takes us through some surprising events before we find out. Yes, this movie is sentimental. Yes, this movie is a bit contrived toward the end. Oh, but what a contrivance it is. Get your handkerchief out and enjoy a good cry. 86/100
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed