Saturday, December 30, 2017

NPR on a Cary Grant Classic

I don't mean to sound vain, but NPR's WEEKEND EDITION could've used my help as a segment producer today.  There needed to be more information related to a Cary Grant classic movie.
The classic movie, a love story that starts with a luxury liner flirtation, is a glossy and colorful Hollywood remake that floats on star power.  It has the high wattage screen star power of Cary Grant with the superb Deborah Kerr.  This love story remake was so popular that it was referenced in two future movies.  In one of them, three women worship Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in 1957's AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER.  Those women are in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, the big Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy hit of 1993.
I kick off my early Saturday mornings with coffee and the voice of Scott Simon, the outstanding Saturday host of WEEKEND EDITION on NPR.  I really love his new feature, "Movies You Missed." Classic films are my passion.  Scott has a younger member of the NPR family watch a classic film for the first time and then review it.  They compare notes.  It makes for lively talk.  One millennial had no idea how many lines he's heard in pop culture originated in CASABLANCA.  The talk about what THE COLOR PURPLE meant to a new viewer's life was truly touching.

Linda Wertheimer sat in today for the vacationing Scott Simon. 

If I had been the segment producer for that segment, here's what I would've done:

I would've asked the millennial guest if he'd ever seen SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.  I would've told him that the characters Meg Ryan, Rosie O'Donnell and Rita Wilson play talk about this Cary Grant film extensively.  The Ryan and O'Donnell characters even watch it on TV together.  I would've also told him that AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER is the reason why SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE ends with a scene at the Empire State Building.  In the WEEKEND EDITION "Movies You Missed" segment, there was no mention of SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE which not only has patches of dialogue about AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, but you hear the 1957 movie's theme music in the soundtrack.

I would've told host Linda Wertheimer that AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER was a successful remake of the 1939 classic, LOVE AFFAIR, starring Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne. Leo McCarey directed the 1939 original, which was nominated for Best Picture, and he also directed the remake.  In the WEEKEND EDITION "Movies You Missed" segment, there was no mention that AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER is a remake of LOVE AFFAIR.

The millennial guest watched AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER on his laptop during a flight.  He didn't quite seem to dig Cary Grant and didn't seem to be aware that Grant was a huge Hollywood star at the time.  I would've asked him on the air if he'd ever seen Cary Grant in Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST and NOTORIOUS, two of Hitchcock's best.  I know millennials in New York City who've seen NORTH BY NORTHWEST and wish they could be as cool as Cary Grant in that thriller.

Years before SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, there was 20th Century Fox drama in which a young married couple in Los Angeles watch AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER on TV and quote dialogue along with the stars it in, just like Meg Ryan and O'Donnell did in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.
The Fox drama is 1982's MAKING LOVE starring Kate Jackson and Michael Ontkean as the sweet couple.  This was a groundbreaking Hollywood film about a married man who makes the decision to be fully honest with his wife and come out of the closet.
Rita Wilson (Mrs. Tom Hanks) has a memorable scene in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE as the wife who explains to her husband and their widower dad friend (Hanks) why AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER is so special.  She tears up explaining how tragedy strikes in the movie.
My mother was never one for watching daytime TV much when I was a kid.  But there were rare occasions during my elementary school summer vacations when Mom would stop and watch certain old movies on afternoon local TV.  One was AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER.  It seemed to have a hypnotic pull on her.  I recall walking into the living room during a final scene with Deborah Kerr stretched out on a couch in a low-rent apartment.  Her legs covered up by a blanket.  Mom was in tears.  I asked her what was wrong.

She did exactly what Rita Wilson does in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.  I had the same expression on my face that the little boy has in that clip with Rita Wilson.  When I attended a preview screening of SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE in 1993 and that scene came on, my first thought -- as I laughed a lot -- was "Director Nora Ephron is brilliant.  I personally have lived this scene."

By the way, I know that AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER is quite popular with film fans of a certain age...and, man, do I dig Cary Grant.  But, I prefer the 1939 original, LOVE AFFAIR.  Irene Dunne, a singer and an actress, is at her sophisticated peak in that film.  As in the original, Deborah Kerr is a classy nightclub singer in AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER but her singing is dubbed, as it was in THE KING AND I, by Marni Nixon.  Irene Dunne did her own singing in LOVE AFFAIR and she had better songs -- songs that revealed character and moved the action forward.  The songs in AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER are schmaltzy.
After AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, LOVE AFFAIR was remade yet again -- and with its original title.  1994's LOVE AFFAIR starred Warren Beatty, Annette Bening and, in her last big screen appearance, Katharine Hepburn.  This wasn't mentioned in the WEEKEND EDITION segment either.
There you have it. My notes on AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER and SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.  Tell NPR to contact me if it needs segment producers.  I need a job.  To hear the "Movies Your Missed" segment on Saturday's WEEKEND EDITION, you can find it here: 

Click onto the Programs and Podcasts section, then look for Weekend Edition Saturday.

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