Episode 51 of 52: In which In which Katharine Hepburn gives her blessing to Annette Bening and my inner actressexual weeps with joy.
A man and a woman bump into each other on a transatlantic flight. He’s charmed. She’s unimpressed. They both wear impeccably tailored suits. She banters. He flirts. A freak accident lands them on a Russian cruise ship. Their banter gives way to conversation. Their flirtation leads to longing looks and rose-tinted kisses. They both fall in love. But they’re engaged to other people.
If the opening to Love Affair sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It’s not a Tracy/Hepburn comedy, nor a Bogie/Bacall noir. In fact, it’s a remake of a remake, told first in 1939 (Love Affair starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer), then in 1957 (An Affair to Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr), and later canonized in Nora Ephron’s 1989 film Sleepless in Seattle. The third version of Love Affair keeps the story intact: Terry McKay (Annette Bening) and Mike Gambril (Warren Beatty) start an affair on a cruise and promise to meet in three months at the top of the Empire State Building.
Surprisingly, the 1994 film is an even more old fashioned than its progenitors. The first two movies hold the whiff of scandal, but in his remake, Warren Beatty set out to make a simple romantic film with his new wife, Annette Bening. He even cast Katharine Hepburn, Hollywood legend, as the wisdom-spouting aunt. And while Kate only has one scene, her influence is felt throughout the film, because this is a film that is all about its stars.