Love Affair, 1939

When finding your true love on a cruise across the Atlantic gets complicated by the fact that both members are engaged to be married, there is really only one thing to do. Terry McKay and the man she has fallen deeply in love with, Michel Marnet, agree to meet at the top of the Empire State Building in six months, giving each of them time to find out if this new love was really meant to be.

Irene Dunne played Terry McKay and Charles Boyer played French playboy Michel Marnet. Each of their characters showed that they were willing to sacrifice for the good of the other. Because of their generous hearts, each had the courage to make something of themselves before committing to a marriage. Michel started out as a scoundrel, but ended up a hero.

I love the emotion at Grandmother Janou’s house. This scene was such a turning point for the romance. Grandmother Janou was played by Maria Ouspenskaya. She was a Russian actress and drama teacher who first worked under Stanislavski at the Moscow Art Theatre. From there she brought the Stanislavski System to America and founded the School of Dramatic Arts in New York in 1929. In the late 1930s, she moved her studio to Hollywood. One of her famous students was Lee Strasberg, who, with others, taught his version of Stanislavski’s system now known as The Method. For her work in Love Affair, which took only ten minutes of the film, she received a supporting actress Oscar nomination.

Charles Boyer was the model from which the cartoon skunk Pepe Le Pew was created. That very affectionate skunk is my favorite cartoon character, so of course I enjoyed Charles Boyer’s performance. He showed that romantic flair while keeping his character a believable hero.

Known as the First Lady of Hollywood, Irene Dunne was nominated for 5 Best Actress Academy Awards, including her nomination for Love Affair, but never won. I found this quote from Irene Dunne at “Trying to build the brotherhood of man without the Fatherhood of God is like having the spokes of a wheel without the hub.”

The story was written by Leo McCarey, who also produced and directed it. He liked the story so much, he wrote and directed the 1957 version, called An Affair To Remember. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s review.

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