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A top-grossing film upon its release, An Affair to Remember captured the magic of falling in love. Take a step closer to heaven with these fun facts from behind-the-scenes.
1. Leo McCarey directed the film. Twice.
An Affair to Remember was actually a remake of McCarey’s earlier work Love Affair starring Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne. The idea was part in thanks to his wife, who suggested they go abroad to help him think as he began to write his new story. Unfortunately, creativity escaped him. Aboard the steamer back home, McCarey met his wife on the deck and sarcastically commented that the trip had helped – suddenly, upon seeing the Empire State Building, an idea came to life.
2. Cary Granted really wanted to do the film.
When the original film was in production, Grant visited the set and wished he had been able to play the lead with Irene Dunne. Cary had worked with Dunne in The Awful Truth, directed by Leo McCarey. Many film historians note that Grant copied the mannerisms of McCarey, as the two share similar names and similar frames. McCarey was surprised Cary wanted to do a remake, since he was normally adverse to taking on a role that someone else originated.
3. Cary’s life was saved on the set.
While filming, a cameraman noticed that Grant’s forehead had a lump. Cary dismissed the concern, believing it to be a bruise from a USO tour. However, at the studio’s insistence, he went to a doctor, where it was discovered to be a tumor. Thankfully, it was successfully removed shortly after filming ended.
4. The director wanted Ingrid Bergman.
Cary Grant and Bergman had proved they were a critical and commercial success in Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious. McCarey believed the chemistry between the leads would create a success again, which he was anxious for since he had not directed a film in approximately five years. But Bergman turned down the role, as she was living abroad, after the negative press caused by her affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini. Deborah Kerr was the second choice, and she matched Cary's energy perfectly.
5. No scenes were shot on a boat.
Originally the film was to shoot in Europe and on an actual boat. However, the budget didn’t make these options possible, and instead, the film shot on a soundstage, which allowed the director to utilize the lighting and framing he wanted. For the remake, McCarey also changed the setting to San Francisco, feeling that New York was being too overused in film. This change, however, was reversed.
6. Grant and Kerr adlibbed.
The pair got along famously, and it shows in their on-screen romance. Kerr said, “He taught me so much, and we improvised a lot of things in that.” In fact, one “flubbed” improvised moment stayed in the film. On the deck, Deborah thought Cary said something and the dialogue stops for a moment as they figure out the mistake. The fun exchange almost ends with them breaking up.
7. It had a second revival thanks to another film.
Sleepless in Seattle starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan not only includes scenes from An Affair to Remember but the plot point of meeting at the top of the Empire State Building. Thanks to the plug, moviegoers rediscovered the 1957 classic, and sales for the VHS rose to approximately $2 million. Later, McCarey's story was remade again as Love Affair, this time teaming Warren Beatty with Annette Bening.