1957 Movie Review: AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, 1957


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Directed by Leo McCarey
Starring: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr
Review by Michael Aloisi


A man and a woman both involved in relationships, meet, fall in love and plan to meet each other again in six months to spend their lives together. But does it happen?


The ultimate playboy, Nickie Ferrante, played by the always enjoyable Cary Grant is about to get married to a famous millionaire. While on a cruise to America to be with his fiancé, he meets Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr), a beautiful woman who is also involved in a relationship of her own. Nickie is at first embarrassed and impressed that she can resist his advances, for almost no woman can. The two begin to spend time together while stuck on the boat for the long journey across the ocean. Slowly but surely they fall madly in love.

Knowing they need time to straighten out their lives and break it off with their current relationships, they make a plan to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building. Time ticks by and the two never talk, but work towards their goals to get together. Finally when the day arrives Nickie waits on the 102nd floor, but Terry never shows. Thinking she deserted him Nickie slips into a deep depression as time slips by and the fate of the couple hangs in the balance.

The first hour of the movie takes place almost completely on the cruise ship, with one interlude in Italy. It is thoroughly enjoyable to watch Grant and Kerr play a flirty game of cat and mouse as they both fall for each other. Yet the second half of the film, while the two are apart, lacks the chemistry and enjoyment that the first half does. It feels a bit long and slow and even has two completely unnecessary and long musical numbers that does nothing to help the film. And the fact that the climatic twist in the film is so simple to solve you want to yell at the characters for being stupid, is a bit hard to swallow in modern times. The ending is also a bit anti-climactic and rushed but still satisfying. The chemistry between Grant and Kerr is what placed this movie at number 5 on the greatest romantic movies of all time list by AFI. Those expecting to be knocked over by this classic film should lower their expectations and just appreciate a story of real love.

For those who love Sleepless in Seattle, this movie is a great accompaniment since it mentioned in it several times and even inspired the ending. In fact after Sleepless was released over two million copies of An Affair To Remember were sold! Yet no one seems to remember that Affair is a remake itself of a 1939 film called Love Affair.


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Movie Review: NOTORIOUS, 1946. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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Horror/Thriller Movie Review

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
Review by Tom Coatsworth


Miami, Florida; 1946. Alicia Huberman’s father is imprisoned as a Nazi spy. She drowns her sorrows with good times. But when Devlin, an American agent, woos her to work for Uncle Sam her better self answers the call. They fly to Rio De Janeiro where she infiltrates a group of Nazi Industrialists led by her former boyfriend, Sebastian. Torn between love for Devlin and duty to the job — she marries Sebastian, going deep undercover to discover their secrets. But soon she’s found out and is slowly poisoned. Devlin must see passed his jealousy and bitterness before he can save her.


“Notorious woman of affairs… adventurous man of the world!” — the original tagline. But with Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains who needs taglines? There may be greater movie stars and there may be finer actors but there are no finer actors who happen to be movie stars. Put these three in a film, let Hitchcock direct, and you have the cinematic equivalent of a royal flush — you simply cannot lose. And indeed ‘Notorious’ is a classic for the ages. It didn’t always seem so — the critics were tepid in their initial response. I suspect the story, which veers toward the tall end of the tall-tale camp, is responsible.

Alicia Huberman (Bergman) is the lady in question. Her father has been imprisoned as a German spy. She is determined to wipe the bitterness clean with gin and good times until T.R. Devlin(Grant) crashes her party and offers her a chance to work for the good guys. Devlin and company have had her under surveillance. They know that beneath the brash smirk lurks the heart of a patriot. And so with some reluctance she accepts the job and they fly to Rio where she infiltrates the Farben Group.

— a band of Nazi industrialists who are cooking up the Fourth Reich. But wait — not until she and Devlin have had a chance to fall in love.

Then the job comes as a thunderbolt. She must “land” a former boyfriend, Alex Sebastian (Rains), who is the head of the Farben Group, and find out what they’re up to. In a cruel dilemma she must play ‘Mata Hari’ and bed down and marry him in order to conduct her ‘undercover’ work. Her affair with Devlin is finished — however their love will not die and it simmers on beneath the surface and this is the true beating heart of the film.

On the surface Alicia is living a dream in a mansion surrounded by riches. Inside her spirit dies a slow weary death. For Devlin it is all business and he has no sympathy. In fact he’s blind with jealousy. It is the life she chose, he tells her. Back to business — Sebastian throws a party to introduce his wife to Rio society. Devlin manages an invite. There he and Alicia gain access to the wine cellar where they discover uranium ore in a wine bottle. When Sebastian stumbles on them they fake an embrace to cover their spying. Sebastian is coldly furious until he discovers he’s married to an American Agent. Then he would gladly kill her except that it would alert his colleagues to his bungling. And so with the aid of his Mother he slowly poisons Alicia — with coffee, kindness and arsenic.

Alicia discovers the trap but she is too weak to get away. She collapses and is confined to a bedroom. Cut off from the world and surrounded by enemies she faces certain death unless Devlin can see passed his bitterness and come to her rescue.

Filmed in sumptuous black and white by Ted Tetzlaff, ( Edith Head designed Bergman’s gowns) these stars have never shone brighter. The chemistry between Grant and Bergman is electric, legendary. The moral of the story hasn’t aged as well: that a party girl must be poisoned just shy of extinction before she can earn the love of a gentleman. But Alicia is more than that — she is the German people, wayward at times but good as gold underneath. And this was America in 1946 — a country with a huge German demographic in a hurry to forgive. Likewise we must forgive a rather gimmicky plot and recognize it’s function: it is a torture chamber for the human heart and it works quite wonderfully. Watch for Hitchcock at the bar downing a glass of champagne.

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Movie Review: TO CATCH A THIEF (1955) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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Classic Movie Review

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring Cary Grant, Grace Kelly
Review by Steven Painter


American expatriate John Robie living in high style on the Riviera is a retired cat burglar. He must find out who a copy cat is to keep a new wave of jewel thefts from being pinned on him. High on list of prime victims is Jessie Stevens, in Europe to help daughter Frances find a suitable husband. Lloyds of London insurance agent is using a thief to catch a thief. Take an especially close look at scene where Robie gets Jessie’s attention, dropping an expensive casino chip down decolletage of French roulette player.


The French Riviera is the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955). This movie is beloved by audiences and typically dismissed by film theorists and critics. The disappointment expressed by critics is understandable. But so is the joy coming from any audience that watches.

In this movie we see the French Riviera at its best. Robert Burks won an Academy Award for his color cinematography. Grace Kelly is cool, charming and elegant. This is one of her best performances and probably the best of her three Hitchcock films. The others being Dial M for Murder (1954) and Rear Window (1954). Cary Grant is also great in this movie. He always gave great performances when working for Hitch, but this one is special. These are the reasons why audiences enjoy To Catch a Thief.

The story is the main reason why theorists and critics dismiss it. It revolves around a series of burglaries. Grant plays John Robie, also known as The Cat. Robie used to be a great cat burglar, specializing in jewelry. He became a well-respected hero during World War II though when he joined the Resistance against the Nazis. His good name is being dragged through the mud when a new cat burglar takes to the streets stealing jewelry. Of course everyone believes Robie is the one doing all the taking.

He is able to avoid the police in the opening sequence of the film. He ends up on a passenger bus into town. This is where Hitchcock makes one of his best cameo appearances, be sure to check it out.

Once in town Robie goes around to old friends to see what they can dig up about the new cat burglar. They don’t give him much and he makes his way to the hotels on the Riviera. His only ally seems to be insurance agent Hughson, played by Hitchcock stalwart John Williams. Hughson’s priority is to insure the jewelry of a wealthy American woman who is on vacation with her daughter, Francie, played by Kelly.

Here Robie and Francie fall in love. Francie seems fascinated by Robie’s former career as a burglar. The mystery and suspense is put on the backburner as the two stars’ romance develops. Although there is a daring car chase in which Kelly drives through the winding hills of the Riviera. This is an eerie scene to watch considering what would happen to Kelly later when she became Princess of Monaco.

Now, I’m not someone who thinks there should be suspense in every scene or that romance has no place in a mystery film, but the techniques Hitchcock uses are not very original. This is one of the reasons why I’m not a huge fan of this movie. For instance there is a scene where Kelly and Grant are kissing. That is intercut with fireworks. I haven’t seen that this month. I guess I just expect something different from a technical pioneer like Hitchcock.

The mystery gets started again as the romance gets hotter. The climax of the movie takes place at a costume party. Edith Head did a marvelous job in designing the costumes for this movie. She did a great job on costume design for all movies she did, but the gowns she designed for Grace Kelly in the three Hitchcock pictures are ones that stand out. Hitch loved working with her and all the leading ladies adored her designs. The most suspense in the movie comes during a rooftop chase. This is well done and adds something new to the Hitchcock cannon, but it is not the reason why people watch To Catch a Thief. This scene, and really the whole movie, needs to be watched on the big screen. That way you can fully appreciate the gorgeous cinematography of Robert Burks and the great gowns of Edith Head.

One of the main reasons why I disliked the movie is that I knew who the cat burglar was early on. I’m not sure if other people will figure it out that quick, but if they do then it could be a long ride to knowing that you are right. Not that there isn’t great scenery and great acting to help pass the time. It’s just that I expected a little bit more from Alfred Hitchcock.


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