Lisa over at Boondock Ramblings nudged me a bit to join in with the “Spring of Cary” since the Christmas movie reviews (‘Tis the Season Cinema) last year ended up being so fun. I don’t know that I can do all of these, but we’ll see. I don’t know that before this morning I’d ever seen a Cary Grant movie in my life, so it’s interesting for me to see what I’ve “missed”.
I checked the online availability of An Affair to Remember, and apart from trying to find pieces on YouTube or the like, I couldn’t find it for free. I then remembered that I’ve got a local library, and that they might have it, and fortuitously enough, they had this movie, and next week’s film, Holiday.
(I hadn’t been to my local library in years. To put it bluntly, it’s awful. It’s the “regional” library for over 100,000 people, and I doubt it has more books than my grandma’s local library, which was for a town with a population well under 10,000. I remember reading several years ago that it has the fewest books per resident of any library “system” in the area. Their motto seems to be “well, if you really want something, you can use your library card in Kenosha too, so we’ll just let you drive down there to get it.” Not only that, but you’ve got to pay for parking anywhere near there!)
In any case, the movie. It’s cliche, isn’t it, to say that they don’t make movies like this anymore. It did drag a little in some places, but it’s not too bad. All the characters have personalities with good and not-so-good things about them. For instance, it’s understandable how Terry might be in a place to love Ken, but then again, it’s understandable how she fell out of that place. Ken’s not an angel, but he’s far from a devil as well, and it’s things like this that keep the twists and turns of the movie believable.
What’s incredibly interesting to me, at least, and which runs with a lot of what I write about here is the depiction of religion in the film. You see, Terry is a Catholic, Nickie’s grandmother is a Catholic, and the assumption is that even if he’s not necessarily practicing, Nickie is as well. There’s no mention of this until Nickie and Terry disembark from the ship, and they have the opportunity to visit Nickie’s grandmother. Nickie’s grandmother is well-to-do, and she lives on a property that has its own private chapel. When Terry hears about this, she asks the grandmother if she may go in to pray. Here we have that:
There she is, praying before Mary, her head covered and everything. (As another aside, the grandmother was wearing all black which was traditional in some places.) The scene is respectful, and when Nickie comes in to join her, the dynamics of her sincerely praying and him seeming kind of lost is something that one doesn’t see on film now. This movie was also made before Vatican II, so these would definitely be a time of the old style, Latin masses in Roman Catholic Churches.
I’m not Catholic, nor have I ever been. However, the scene struck me because it is different from Orthodox practice (we typically don’t have religious statues) but as a former Protestant, I can see how it can be interpreted as she is “worshipping” Mary. In the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, Mary is honored and extolled and venerated, but not worshipped. As with other saints, we ask for her prayers – our intercessions – to God on our behalf. Being as she was mother to Jesus, we understand that her prayers are particularly “heard” by God. If I would have seen this movie before I was Orthodox, though, I wouldn’t have understood that; I’d be pretty perplexed, as I really didn’t know any Catholics with whom I could talk about religion until I was in college. As someone who understands this somewhat better now, it strikes me as quite beautiful, and the assistance Terry finds later in the movie through the Catholic Church makes more sense in this light.
In any case, the story revolves around Nickie and Terry, two “kind-of” single people who find themselves on a voyage back to the US from Europe without their “almost” partners. They find themselves falling for each other, but have to decide if it’s worth giving up certain “perks” of their current lives to follow love with each other. There’s a subtext, here, too, that neither of them are particularly young. Cary Grant (Nickie) was over 50 when this movie was made though looked 40, and Deborah Kerr (Terry) was 36. This isn’t a story of young kids falling in love, but of two individuals who are older and somewhat disillusioned with their prospects, despite how wonderful those prospects appear from the outside.
Oh, boy, and what glamor with all the 1950s styling! The dresses and suits! The cars and furniture and “luxury touches”! Even though I was watching this movie on the 7″ screen of a portable DVD player that is 10 years old, it still was impressive! (That being said, there are a couple of scenes that the fake backgrounds still looked fake on said 7″ screen!)
Were this a Russian movie, the movie would have been about 30 minutes shorter, and would have ended with the car accident and then Nickie would have ended up dead six months later from alcoholism. But it’s an American movie in the era of hope, and so the film doesn’t end that way. It’s been kind of an awful day, stress-wise, and I ended up crying at the end because there is hope there, that even with the broken people that we are, we can get past the Russian endings to something better.
Anyway, I recommend the movie, and I’m glad that Lisa suggested participating. I haven’t read it yet, but her review can be read here: https://lisahoweler.com/2023/04/27/spring-of-cary-an-affair-to-remember/ and Erin’s review at Cracker Crumb Life can be found here: https://crackercrumblife.com/2023/04/27/the-spring-of-cary-grant-an-affair-to-remember/.
Now, I’m off to reading what they wrote!
4 thoughts on “Spring of Cary: An Affair to Remember”
I have seen very few movies compared to probably most people you know, but this one I had seen. When I saw the name of the movie in your post, I immediately thought exactly that, that they don’t make movies like this anymore. But more than that, I was thinking that the characters in the movies were so grown-up back then!!
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I really enjoyed your post! I found it so informative regarding Catholicism. My brother recently converted to Catholicism and it is something I love talking with him about.
And oh yes, the glam of these 50s movies knocks my socks off every time! I think it is my favorite part of these old movies.
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I really loved this post. I am so glad you hopped in to join us. I can totally see why you would cry at the ending with it being more of a happy ending than some movies provide.
I was very interested in your take on the scene in the chapel. I decided not to comment on that scene because I do often question why Catholics seem to often find it more important to have a statue of Mary in their chapels than Jesus. Yes, she is to be honored, but I don’t know about the idea of praying to her. I don’t think I agree with that, but at the same time I understand what Catholics are saying about why they do it. It’s something to learn more about I suppose.
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It’s funny, because as a Protestant, I really didn’t have a problem with the concept of saints, but apart from the apostles, Mary, and Paul, I didn’t think that anyone necessarily had the authority to “make” someone a saint. However, even as a Protestant, there was certainly the belief that those who are “saved” are not dead, but go to be with God in heaven.
But what do they do there? Of course, there are plenty of jokes about heaven being a “boring” place, but even here, as we draw closer to God, we participate in prayer and worship much more naturally. I suppose that it is logical, then, to think that there’s a lot more of this going on in heaven. Therefore, I don’t know that it’s much of a logical jump to think that if they are alive in spirit, and that they are nearer to God, that they couldn’t “hear” us asking for their prayers, and that they do this when asked.
I suppose I might be somewhat biased, but I believe that there was a saint who helped bring me into the Orthodox Church. The funny thing is, in the beginning he wasn’t yet recognized by the Orthodox Church as being a saint yet. But the Orthodox have a different way of regarding “official” saints than the Catholics do. The thing is, with St. Alexander of Munich (Alexander Schmorell in life) he was someone who lived quite recently (executed by the Nazis in 1943), he was young (25), a student (still in med school when he died), he lived in “the west”, he kind of straddled two cultures, and he was far from a perfect person. I’ve seen a couple of people describe his presence as “sunshine”, but he was incredibly restless and very likely was the “other man” in an affair. That being said, he also dared stand up to the Nazis, and his faith led him to be willing to die for the Truth. When I “discovered” him, I was a 20-year-old restless college student who felt my calling was outside the US, but wasn’t exactly sure how either… You can kind of see how that “fit”.
Mary is a special case, even among saints. Even in the Bible (Luke 1:48), it says “all generations shall call me [Mary] blessed”. It isn’t bragging on her part, especially because we know she was a humble person. There is institutional support of the veneration of Mary, and not only does she end “the curse of Eve” (willing obedience vs total willfulness), but her example makes it clear that even with an all-male clergy, there is definitely a place of high esteem for women in the Church. Furthermore, there’s a lot to feel in common – motherhood, for one, having faith when people around us don’t understand, going through extremely hard challenges, having a child die before the parent, etc. And as she was the “God-bearer”, and mother to Jesus, it’s logical to assume that her place in heaven is probably especially close to God, and that she prays for those who ask that of her. One of the “big” theological differences between Catholics and Orthodox is that doctrinally, Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception (Mary being born without sin), which the Orthodox do not, and I do believe in some cases that affects good teaching and practice. Culturally, the Orthodox pretty much stick to icons as visual reminders of the lives of the saints, but it’s not like statues would be considered evil or anything either. (Worshipping a statue, though… completely wrong!)
As far as the movie goes, I also enjoyed the character of the Catholic priest, who came off as being a very nice and normal person. It actually reminded me somewhat of Fr. Mulcahy in MASH, which, I believe, is probably one of the best depictions of a religious person in “normal” television.