Guilty Pleasures: Patti Abbott

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls:

Welcome to the first installment of GUILTY PLEASURES. Each Wednesday, one of our fellow members of the crime community will talk about a film they consider to be a guilty pleasure.

We start things off with our Movie Maven Patti Abbott. Patti regularly reviews films here every Friday.

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, directed by Leo McCary in 1957

If I’m a sucker for any kind of film, it’s one starring Cary Grant. My runners-up here would be Father Goose (Editor’s Note: FATHER GOOSE is a pretty darn good film!) and Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House. None of these would appear on any top 500 list.

But if there is one film of Grant’s I adore above all others, it is AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER. And please don’t mention the Warren Beatty remake. Grant and Kerr brought something to it that Beatty and Benning couldn’t match. AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER was made in 1957, when Grant was 53, an age long past the time most film stars would command the devotion Grant did. And Kerr had the elegance, the delicacy and dignity to bring it home.

I’m generally not a fan of tear-jerkers so it is hard to articulate what makes this film work for me. A sort of catharsis takes place as I watch it. I’m not big on crying but watching this allows a year or ten year’s pent-up tears to flow. I almost begin to cry on hearing the title. Or thinking of the final scenes. Lugubrious, over-the-top. Yes, but it works for many women. (And it is restrained, temperate, compared to the story in Penny Serenade.)

For anyone living on Mars, the plot goes like this. Nicky Ferrante, a man of insubstantial character and beautiful night club singer, Terry McKay, have a whirlwind romance while on a cruise from Europe to New York. Despite being engaged to other people, both agree to reunite at the top of the Empire State Building in six months should they wish to resume their affair. However, an unfortunate accident keeps Terry from the reunion, and Nicky fears that she’s married her former fiancé or that she does not love him anymore. Will he discover the truth behind her absence at the top of the building and reunite with her? Or has too much time passed?

SPOILER ALERT for anyone who hasn’t seen this film, McKay was hit by a car on the way to their meeting and crippled. She spends her time coaching choir and doesn’t want to impose her new condition on Ferrante. Of course, at the end, he tracks down the mysterious art patron who has bought his portrait of her, spies the wheelchair in her apartment, and puts the story together.

I think most fans of the movie would have trouble expressing the exact reason for their devotion to the film. Characters in SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE gave it a try. No go. Blubber city.

I think the movie allows us to believe there is someone out there that will love us beyond our physical limitations, someone who will find us when we don’t want to be found (but do). And most of all, we fervently hope that someone is Cary Grant.

Patti Abbott
Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.