“Love Affair” screens at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5, 2014 in the Durwood Film Vault of the Kansas City Central Library, 14W. 10th St. Admission is free. It’s part of the year-long film series Hollywood’s Greatest Year, featuring movies released in 1939.
Directors don’t often get do-overs.
Oh, Hollywood loves remakes. They come with a built-in audience…or so it’s thought.
But a director making the same movie twice? Not so often.
Hitchcock made “The Man Who Knew Too Much” twice (in 1934 and in 1956). Beyond that I know of only one other such re-do.
In 1939 Leo McCarey directed “Love Affair” with Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne. In 1957 he remade it as “An Affair to Remember” with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. (There was even a third version, 1994’s “Love Affair” with Warren Beatty and Annette Bening.)
“The difference between ‘Love Affair’ and an ‘Affair to Remember’ is very simply the difference between Charles Boyer and Cary Grant,” McCarey recalled. “Grant could never really mask his sense of humor – which is extraordinary – and that’s why the second version is funnier. But I still prefer the first.”
Both screenplays were written by McCarey and follow more or less the same plot. A notorious playboy and a woman (she’s a nightclub singer) meet on a boat chugging from Europe to America. Both are engaged to other people, but they fall in love.
Arriving in New York, they make a pact. They’ll spend time apart and then, if they still feel that romantic tug, they will meet in exactly six months at the top of the Empire State Building (“The nearest thing to heaven that we have in New York”).
If one of them fails to show, they’ll know their affair wasn’t meant to be.