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An Affair to Remember (1957)
Rather good but...
MOVIE TITLE: An Affair to Remember COUNTRY: USA YEAR: 1957 RATING: 7/10
I'm writing this review after watching back-to-back this and Warren Beatty's "Love Affair" (1994) which, in my opinion, is a direct remake of "An Affair to Remember" rather than "Love Affair" (1939), starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. The 1957 picture starts rather strongly with all those exchanges between Kerr and Grant in the ocean-liner, culminating with their visit to Janou, after which they realize they cannot escape each other anymore. This "crescendo" is very well done. The dialog is nice, Grant and Kerr have chemistry and the Janou episode has the necessary impact. On the other hand, "Love Affair", surely trying to give a more contemporary feeling, opts to create a plot involving a rather turbulent plane trip in way to get the characters into the boat which will lead them to the "old lady" scene. For someone who does not know the plot this can seem almost a mess, but comes to work fairly, not more. Up to this point, "An Affair to Remember" is more interesting than "Love Affair". However, as soon the 1994 film gets to the scene with Ginny (wonderful Katharine Hepburn) it gets a 360 degrees turn, truly becoming a great romantic story. And it's precisely at this moment that the movie reviewed here starts to loose its charm. The second half of the film has much more strength on the Beatty/Bening version. In the 1957 picture everything becomes more tame, even Terry's accident, much more meaningful in 1994. The same for the concert hall scene. Warren Beatty and Annette Bening outdo Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in most of the scenes. In this second half, the writing is also clearly more interesting in "Love Affair". Both movies end with the exact same scene. Although I have a slight preference for the 1957 version, I find both male actors could have been a little better in this particular moment. They don't fail to deliver, it's just both Kerr and Bening appear more at home here. All in all, "An Affair to Remember" is a rather good romantic movie let down by a slightly inferior second half. Maybe it was the shooting, maybe the writing. It just doesn't work as well for me.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Greatness in simplicity
TITLE: The Shawshank Redemption COUNTRY: USA YEAR: 1994 RATING: 10/10
For me, the key to a good film can be found on the way the story is told, which is to say, the development of the script. Sometimes when we think of movie classics we always tend to associate with complex plots while forgetting that simplicity can also mean greatness. A few days back, after watching "Sunset Boulevard" I could not stop thinking how a simple story could have been so well written and shot. I feel the same about "The Shawshank Redemption". The story, per se, is absolutely ordinary. In the hands of others it could have resulted in a bland product. But with wonderful writing and filming the story reached an entirely different level of density. It's the audience gain and the movie industry too.