Love Affair ★★★★½

I had never seen this class romance from 1939, and I am so glad now that I did. A truly wonderful film that starts off rather light and frivolous (almost in the style of the period's madcap romance films), then deepens into a love story that verges on tragedy but has a lovely hopeful ending.

The story was filmed 3 times (this is the original). I haven't seen the remakes but it's hard to imagine them being better than this. The story centers around a romance that develops between a man and woman on an ocean liner while each is engaged to other people. They decide to put their affair on hold for a year to make sure they are meant for each other and to work out their respective partnerships. The reunion one year later (a rendezvous atop the Empire State Building) goes horribly wrong and sets the stage for the remainder of the film.

Irene Dunne is beautiful, charming and touching in a standout performance. Her scenes with children in the latter part of the film are so natural. Boyer's role is a bit more challenging, as he must undergo a transformation from a cosmopolitan playboy to a man heartbroken and then redeemed through love. The final scene of the film between the two leads brought tears to my eyes.

Maria Ouspenskaya does not overplay her part here (as I do feel she does in many of her other contless "exotic" roles, and the love and joy she shows upon greeting her grandson (Boyer) is quite genuine. The direction (by Leo McCarey), the photography and the music are all perfect.

I watched this on the TCM app but it is apparently free to stream through Amazon Prime.