Love Affair (1939) starring Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer, Maria Ouspenskaya, Lee Bowman, Astrid Allwyn directed by Leo McCarey Movie Review

Love Affair (1939)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Irene Dunne as Terry in Love Affair (1939)

The Original Affair to Remember

It's rather amusing that so many people bemoan modern cinema for being little more than remakes when in truth remakes have always been a part of the movie scene. Take "An Affair to Remember" the 1957 romantic drama starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr which was brought to audiences attention in the 90s because of "Sleepless in Seattle" as that was a remake of "Love Affair", in fact a remake made by the original director Leo McCarey. I could go further because in 1994 "Love Affair" had another remake or as it would be said now re-imagining with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening starring in an updated version. The thing is that whilst "An Affair to Remember" is probably now better known, the original "Love Affair" is just as good if not better with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer brilliant when it comes to the romance and drama of this timeless story.

Returning on a Cruise from Europe to be married, French playboy Michel Marnet (Charles Boyer - Barefoot in the Park) meets American Terry McKay (Irene Dunne - I Remember Mama) who herself has a young man back in America. Despite this they hit it off and spend the few days on the cruise together, stopping in Madeira to see Michel's grandmother whilst trying to avoid gathering too much attention because they know it will make the headlines. As they edge closer to New York they know that they must sort out their lives and take time to think things through so agree to meet up 6 months later on 1st July at the top of the Empire State Building.

Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer in Love Affair (1939)

Now it has to be said it is rather strange writing about this original movie when I have already reviewed "An Affair to Remember" because they are so similar. But because "Lover Affair" and "An Affair to Remember" are on par with each other it makes you realise one important thing and that is the power of the story. Now whilst I am pretty sure most people know how the storyline plays out I won't divulge details but will say that both the romance aboard the cruise, the touching visit to the grandmother and the drama in America is as captivating as ever. The scenes where they visit Michel's Grandmother at the top of the hill are simply beautiful with a perfect musical moment but then the drama of the final scenes as Michel visits Terry in her New York hotel room are still gripping despite knowing what is about to unfold. It is the reason why this storyline has now been made at least 3 times and occasionally referenced in other movies.

But it is not just the storyline which is so good about "Love Affair" and the pairing of Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer are as good as Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. The chemistry between them is perfect going from initially a little jokey, then gently romantic as they fall for each other and then well lets just say incredibly touching. In particular Irene Dunne is outstanding from start to finish delivering the rollercoaster ride of emotion her character has to deal with. If it wasn't for the fact "Love Affair" was released in 1939, the most glorious year in cinema's history, I am sure Dunne would not only have won the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar but the movie would have won more.

What this all boils down to is that "Love Affair" is a great movie and in truth deserves to be as well known as "An Affair to Remember" which owes a lot to "Sleepless in Seattle" for bringing it back to people's attention. There is absolutely nothing wrong with "Love Affair" and it is a case that everything about it is perfect especially Irene Dunne who is not only beautiful but delivers a captivating performance from start to finish.