'Love Affair' 1939: Irene Dunne & Charles Boyer romance classic

Love Affair, one of the 1939 Best Picture nominees, is next in line in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' series “Hollywood's Greatest Year: The Best Picture Nominees of 1939” on Monday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Prior to the film, beginning at 7 p.m., the sixth chapter of the 1939 serial Buck Rogers, starring Buster Crabbe and Constance Moore, and the Warner Bros. Oscar-nominated cartoon Detouring America, directed by Tex Avery, will be screened.

Irene Dunne Charles Boyer Love Affair

Leo McCarey produced, directed and co-wrote (with Mildred Cram) the story for Love Affair (the actual screenplay was credited to Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart), a romantic melodrama starring Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne as a couple who meet and fall in love aboard a US-bound ship. Fate, however, ends up interfering with their planned tryst on dry land.

Some prefer this version to the better known 1957 remake, An Affair to Remember, in which Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr play the two lovers. Personally, I think An Affair to Remember is superior – chiefly because of Cary Grant's presence – but the 1939 Love Affair has its charms, including Irene Dunne's performance and a brief appearance by scene-stealer Maria Ouspenskaya.

A 1994 remake, directed by Glenn Gordon Caron, starring Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, and Katharine Hepburn, and also named Love Affair, was a dismal box office and critical failure.

Irene Dunne Charles Boyer Love Affair

Love Affair received six Academy Award nominations: Best Picture (RKO Radio), Actress (Dunne), Actress in a Supporting Role (Ouspenskaya), Art Direction (Van Nest Polglase, Al Herman), Music – Song (“Wishing,” Music and Lyrics by Buddy de Sylva) and Writing – Original Story (Cram, McCarey).

Here's hoping the Academy screening will feature a good print, as the Love Affair prints available for viewing have usually been below par.

Tickets for Love Affair and other individual films in the series are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. Tickets may be purchased online at www.oscars.org, by mail, in person at the Academy during regular business hours or, depending on availability, on the night of the screening when the doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Curtain time for all features is 7:30 p.m., and pre-show elements will begin at 7 p.m. The Academy is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.

Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer Love Affair 1939 images: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library.

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  1. Lance says:

    Cary Grant was wooden and insincere in "An Affair". Deborah Kerr was tolerable and underserving of an Oscar nomination–which she didn't get, although Irene Dunn got a deserved one for "Love Affair". Everything about "Love Affair" was superior to the remake except the lack of color. I'm not sure color was important for this dramatic story. The remake was ashamedly unoriginal with many scenes exactly staged and shot with the same lens as the original. As though it could be an improvement, McCarey reversed some of the his-her lines. Perhaps he was bored with simply copy-catting himself. "An Affair" was a money grab with no pretense of originality.