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Love Affair and An Affair to Remember

Updated on October 9, 2015

Love Affair (1939)

The original Love Affair released in 1939 has Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer as lead stars. It is directed by Leo McCarey.

The story opens with news about a French ladies’ man Michel Marnet who leaves on a transatlantic cruise for New York to marry his fiancée, the heiress Lois Clarke.

Aboard the liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean, he meets American singer Terry McKay who is traveling alone but has a boyfriend named Kenneth Bradley. The two keep each other company but with his seemingly celebrity status, Michel Marnet’s movement is being watched by the other cruise passengers. They decide to not be seen as often together in order to avoid being photographed or talked about.

When the ocean liner stops at Madeira, Michel goes to visit his grandmother Janou, and invites Terry to join him. Janou likes Terry instantly and the old woman tells Terry about Michel’s passion for painting. The old woman promises that some day, she is going to send Terry the beautiful white shawl she is wearing.

At the end of the cruise, the two who have fallen for each other promise to be at the top of the Empire State Building after six months. Michel needs six months to get his life together, and try to get an honest work for himself. They also agree that when one of them does not make it, the other will not ask any questions.

Within the six months, Michel breaks off his engagement with Lois Clarke and pursues painting again. Terry also breaks off with her boyfriend and finds a job on her own.

Six months pass, and Terry goes to the Empire State Building in haste. She meets an accident and lands in the hospital. Michel waits for her at the Empire State Building until midnight.

When Terry learns that she can no longer walk, she decides not to inform Michel about her condition. She wants to disappear from his life so that he is not burdened by her situation. She has found a job at an orphanage as a music teacher.

Michel’s grandmother dies and leaves the white shawl to Terry but Michel does not know where to find her.

Another six months go by and for the first time, Michel and Terry meet in a theater. Michel, with Lois Clarke is on his way out and Terry is still seated with Kenneth Bradley. They say hello and after a moment of hesitation, Michel leaves. He has no clue that Terry can not walk.

Michel’s paintings have been sold by his friend who owns an art store. One of his paintings is an image of Terry kneeling and wearing his grandmother’s shawl.

On a Christmas eve, as Terry settles on the sofa with the help of her landlady, a guest comes calling. It is Michel who finds her name in the directory while looking for a friend’s name.

Michel tries to make Terry tell him why she has failed to come on their appointed place and time, but she obviously keeps trying to change the subject. Michel gives her the shawl from Janou, and is about to leave. Then he tells her that he has painted her wearing the shawl. His friend, the owner of an art shop has told him that a girl really likes it and wants to have it but she does not have the money to buy it so Michel tells his friend to give it to her. Michel starts to say that the girl is in a wheelchair but he pauses and walks around until he comes to Terry’s bedroom. There on the wall is his painting and he understands.

The end of the movie shows them in a tight embrace, and Terry says, “If you can paint, I can walk. Anything can happen, don’t you think?”


Irene Dunne is Terry McKay

Charles Boyer is Michel Marnet

An Affair to Remember (1957)

In 1957, McCarey remakes the Love Affair and changed the title to An Affair to Remember. The movie stars Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. In the remake, McCarey has used the same screenplay so it has almost the same scenes as the Love Affair. The only difference is the name of the leading man. Cary Grant is Nicolo "Nickie" Ferrante while Deborah Kerr is the same Terry McKay.

The story is the same where Nickie Ferrante, a known playboy who dabbles in arts, meets Terry McKay aboard the transatlantic ocean liner cruising from Europe to New York. Though each of them is involved with someone else, they become good friends.

Then Terry joins Nickie as he visits his grandmother when the ship stops at Villefranche-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean cost. From his grandmother, Terry learns that Nickie paints but being very critical of his work, he has stopped painting. Terry now sees the playboy with new eyes and a deeper feeling has blossomed between them.

As they near New York, they promise to reunite in six months at the top of the Empire State Building. They want to free themselves from their present relationships and start new careers.

On the appointed date, Terry meets an accident on her way to the Empire State Building. Nickie waits for her until midnight.

Due to the accident, Terry is unable to walk. She refuses to get in touch with Nickie. She does not want him to know about her disability. She gets a job as a music teacher. Nickie, who has started painting again has his work displayed at his friend’s art shop.

Six months later, they see each other for the first time at the ballet. Nickie has not noticed her condition because she is seated next to her ex-boyfriend. Nickie himself is with his ex-fiancee.

On a Christmas Eve, Nickie finally finds Terry and makes a surprise visit. He is trying to get an explanation from Terry without asking directly but Terry dodges the subject.

Before he leaves, Nickie mentions to Terry about his painting that has been given away at the art shop to a woman who has admired it but has no money to buy the painting. He is about to say that the woman is in a wheelchair but he pauses and walks around her apartment and to her bedroom where he sees the painting on her wall. Then he understands why Terry never moves from the couch and why she never got to the Empire State Building.

The end has them embracing, and Terry saying, “If you can paint, I can walk. Anything can happen, don’t you think?”

According to the American Film Institute, An Affair to Remember is considered one of the most romantic movies of all time.

Love Affair (1994)

Love Affair has again inspired another remake with the same title. Love Affair is a romantic drama film released in 1994 and directed by Glenn Gordon Caron. It is produced by Warren Beatty who also stars in it with Annette Bening.

Some changes are made to the 1994 Love Affair. The lead man's name is changed to Mike Gambril while the leading lady is still named Terry McKay. Instead of meeting on an ocean cruise liner, they meet on a flight to Sydney where the plane makes an emergency landing and the passengers have to wait.

Instead of a grandmother, Mike and Terry visit Mike’s elderly aunt Ginny. Just the same, they fall in love and agree to be at the Empire State Building in three months instead of six from the original movie.

Mike breaks up with his fiancèe, finds honest work as a coach in a small school while pursuing his passion as a painter. One of his art work depicts Terry in prayer.

Terry breaks up with her fiancé and finds a job as a singer. On their appointed day, Terry meets an accident on her way to the Empire State Building. From that point on, the movie has not deviated much from the original film. It has the same ending as the 1939 and 1957 films.

This remake is not much of a critical nor a commercial success. It is nominated for one Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel.

There is another movie inspired by the above romantic films, the Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movie, Sleepless in Seattle but the story line is totally different. Only the meeting at the Empire State Building is the same and Meg Ryan even mentions "An Affair to Remember" in the movie. Sleepless in Seattle is a critical and commercial success.


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