Movie Review

Love Affair

Love Affair Movie Poster

US Release Date: 04-07-1939

Directed by: Leo McCarey


  • Irene Dunne
  • Terry
  • Charles Boyer
  • Michel
  • Maria Ouspenskaya
  • Grandmother
  • Lee Bowman
  • Kenneth Bradley
  • Astrid Allwyn
  • Lois Clarke
  • Maurice Moscovitch
  • Maurice Cobert
  • Scotty Beckett
  • Boy on Ship
  • Ferike Boros
  • Terry's Landlady
  • Joan Leslie
  • Autograph Seeker
Reviewed on: February 3rd, 2014
Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer in Love Affair.

Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer in Love Affair.

The original (and many say best) version of Leo McCarey's tearjerker romance about a couple who meet on a transatlantic luxury liner and agree to reunite six months later atop the Empire State Building is a genuine movie classic. It stars Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne and is pretty close to perfection.

Now I love Cary Grant as much as the next classic movie fan, but I have to admit that Boyer is better in the role. He has never been more handsome or intensely romantic. And Deborah Kerr, for all her charms, is but a pale imitation of the vastly underrated Irene Dunne. Her Terry McKay is both all-American and a worldly sophisticate. And a completely noble soul without being a stick in the mud.

On top of that this movie includes the Oscar nominated performance by Maria Ouspenskaya as Boyer's elderly Grandmother. Her one scene is a highlight of the movie. This wise old woman instantly recognizes the fact that her international playboy, and erstwhile painter, grandson has met his perfect match at last. Her interaction with Dunne is simple yet beautiful. The entire scene is exquisitely rendered and it exudes a nearly sacred radiance.

Leo McCarey loved the story so much that he filmed it again in the 1950s as An Affair to Remember, following a nearly identical script. Both movies feature a comedic first half that turns tragic during the second half. An accident occurs on the very day these star crossed lovers have chosen for their reunion atop what was then the world's tallest building. Or as Terry tells Michel in the movie, “It's the nearest thing to heaven we have in New York.”

Besides the work by the two stars, the pacing in this original version is much better. It tells the same story in 30 fewer minutes. Love Affair may have been overshadowed by the Technicolor, CinemaScope remake starring the incomparable Cary Grant but trust me, this original 1939 version is far richer in that ineffable ingredient known as movie magic.

Related Review