Come on, raise your hands….you know you’ve watched this movie. You know you want to be on the ship. A real ocean liner, not a cruise ship, that makes a stop in Villefranche. You know you want to take the ride up into the hills with the charming batchelor Nicky Ferrante to see his grandmother, all the while the wearing a fetching outfit. You know you want to stay and get to know his grandmere. Then you want to return to the liner, and flirt outrageously with the batchelor and drink pink champagne cocktails and wear divine gowns. You know you want to. Don’t resist. Just watch the movie.
If you haven’t seen it, the movie is a remake of the original movie called Love Affair starring Charles Boyer and Myrna Loy. And after this was made, then it was made into Love Affair again with Warren Beatty and Katherine Hepburn as the grandmere (living in Hawaii, not Villefranche). To the best of my knowledge it has not been remade since, but give it time.
Anyway, Cary Grant plays a worldly playboy with artist tendencies named Nicky Ferrante. Deborah Kerr fresh off her success as Anna in the King and I, plays the chanteuse named Terry McKay making the same crossing on the North Atlantic from the warm Mediterranean. Oh the glamour! Gowns at nite, wool coats on the promenade. Being met on the piers in New York. It’s pretty evident that if Nicky and Terry are not having an affair on the ship, then they should be. They do everything to avoid each other and they are not fooling anyone. They decide as the ship pulls into New York that they need to separate to see if they are still meant to be together and in the meantime they will break up with their current significant others that are waiting on the pier for them. They agree to meet on top of the Empire State Building in 6 months and if one of them is not there, then it is only for a very, very good reason.
Nicky leaves his Cruella de Ville look-a-like girlfriend who’s been keeping him in expensive suits and tries to make his living as an artist, even if it means working on billboards (remember when they were painted, and not covered with a saran wrap image?) Meanwhile, Terry resumes her song career in a nightclub in Boston after leaving her man about town boyfriend. She returns to NYC on the appointed date and time to meet up with Ferrante at their rendezvous spot. On the way, she stops at a chic boutique to pick up a little lacy number for her wedding night and is confronted by her ex who’s been called by the lingerie shop manager. Evidently, he’s a good customer….
Anyway, back at street level, Terry makes the fatal mistake of stepping in front of a bus. Cue the sad music and cut to a shot of Ferrante, waiting on the top of the Empire State building with the sound of sirens in the background. As you can imagine the damage is extensive and although never really given a complete diagnosis, viewers can discern that the heroine is indeed paralyzed or compromised somehow as far as her lower limbs are concerned. She stays in New York with her ex as her ally and health care advocate and the local padre helps her find a job as a music teacher in a local school. I won’t even begin to describe the scenes with the children and the songs, and the full on symphony she has dragooned them into forming.
Meanwhile Ferrante leaves on the next boat he can find and skulks his way around his grandmere’s old place on the hill. Recently deceased, she has left instructions that the handmade lace shawl she wears early in the movie is to be given to Terry. Ferrante is so struck by the gesture that he paints a portrait of Terry wearing the shawl and it is “one of my best works”, his agent tells him.
Fast forward to Christmas. Ferrante is home from Europe and meets up with Cruella, when she discovers that he’s on the passenger roster that day ( what a co-inkydink, it’s Christmas Eve) and she calls him to invite him to the ballet. Meanwhile back at the music school, Terry’s ex and self fashioned knight Lancelot feels she needs a night out for the holiday and takes her to the same ballet. And you can imagine the scene….
Ferrante hunts her down the next day and appears just as her neighbor is opening the door to leave. When…well, I’ll let Rita Wilson tell you what happens next….
Now if that doesn’t make you want to watch it, then there’s no hope for you! I’ve always considered this a Christmas movie even thought it’s not the main setting, but it is nice to see a little tinsel at the end. And opening and closing credits are shots of Central Park in the snow, very Currier and Ives. Look for more Christmas movie favorites coming over the next couple of weeks!