Donald Ogden Stewart

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An Affair To Remember Review


OK
The good thing about being an international playboy who looks and sounds like Cary Grant (well, one of the good things) is that there isn't much you have to do to pay for your fabulous jet-set lifestyle, except marry the occasional filthy-rich heiress (who's hardly bad-looking herself, so that doesn't hurt). So we shouldn't feel too bad for scandal-sheet regular Nickie Ferrante (Grant) when we're introduced to him at the start of the glossy, late-studio-period romance An Affair to Remember, at which point he's leaving behind his French lover, and presumably many years of others like her, in the interest of future security. Nickie's on an ocean liner steaming back to the U.S. to marry the heiress whose financial largesse will keep him in tuxedos and pink champagne for a good many years to come, when he runs into the woman he's fated to fall in love with, Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr), also no slouch in the looks department. But even after the fateful meet cute -- a nicely-framed bit with a cigarette case and some snappy quips -- and all the emotional and moral confusion it causes, there's little reason to feel bad for the guy.

Whether or not one should feel concern for Nickie's state of mind is important here, because director and co-writer Leo McCarey seems to have much more on his mind here than a simple romantic soufflé. The first half of the film takes place almost entirely on the ocean liner, and it's here that the film is at its best. Although both Nickie and Terry have significant others waiting for them on the pier in New York, they can't stop from engaging in some sharp romantic badinage, setting the tongues wagging among their entertainment-starved shipmates. The first sign that the film is moving into different territory, though, is when Nickie goes ashore in France to visit his grandmother and brings Terry along. It's a lengthy and overplayed sequence at a sleepy villa in which Terry, who had previously felt impervious to Nickie's attempts at pitching woo, gets a window into his soul via the grandmother and so falls for him. McCarey also introduces an overtly religious theme here (having Terry and Nickie pray briefly in the chapel) that will come back later in an even more heavy-handed fashion.

Continue reading: An Affair To Remember Review

Holiday Review


Good
Hit-and-miss Hepburn-Grant production, released the same year as Bringing Up Baby but to a considerably less receptive public. That's because many of the jokes in Holiday fall flat, and while Grant has his characteristic grace and charm, the story he's put into with Hepburn (more earnestly grating here than director George Cukor should have allowed) is on the tepid side (involving a love triangle with Grant and two rich sisters). It all comes off as very stagey (it's based on a play) and not very funny at all. Safely skippable unless you're a big fan of the leads.

Holiday Review


Good
Hit-and-miss Hepburn-Grant production, released the same year as Bringing Up Baby but to a considerably less receptive public. That's because many of the jokes in Holiday fall flat, and while Grant has his characteristic grace and charm, the story he's put into with Hepburn (more earnestly grating here than director George Cukor should have allowed) is on the tepid side (involving a love triangle with Grant and two rich sisters). It all comes off as very stagey (it's based on a play) and not very funny at all. Safely skippable unless you're a big fan of the leads.

The Philadelphia Story Review


Extraordinary
No self-respecting film snob would speak ill of George Cukor's classic romantic comedy The Philadelphia Story, with its three major stars (plus the overlooked Ruth Hussey), rat-a-tat dialogue, hairpin plotting, and delightful humor. And so it's my turn -- what have I got to say for myself?

Not much that hasn't already been said. I fall in line with the conventional wisdom that Philadelphia is one of the smartest comedies you'll find. At the film's opening, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant) and Tracy Lord (Katharine Hepburn) are seen in the midst of their breakup. Fast-forward a few years and Tracy's engaged again, and Dexter shows up with two Spy magazine reporters (James Stewart and Hussey), determined to throw a wrench into things.

Continue reading: The Philadelphia Story Review

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