Throw some extra butter on your popcorn – this is old Hollywood doing what it did best, and deserves a proper wallow.
A debonair European playboy (Cary Grant) is on a luxury liner en route to New York to wed his heiress fiancée – but on board he meets Deborah Kerr, a nightclub singer who is also engaged to be married.
Gliding around the ship, they gradually pick apart one another’s cynicism in a festival of part-improvised repartee, underlining how sexy films could be before they could actually show the act itself.
Once they reach the US , a pact is made to sort their respective lives out and meet in six months’ time. From there, the film shifts squarely into weepie territory, until a glorious last scene.
Much here would stick in modern craws were it not for the skill of Grant and Kerr. Delicately underplaying, they’re not regarded as one of the great screen couples for nothing, especially as the banter eases in the second half and things get heavy.
Sure, there’s far too much of Kerr’s cabbage-patch music class doing the worst singing you’ve ever heard, and the pace does slacken when it should propel.
But its famously swoonsome emotions are earned rather than blagged, and are presented rather than flung at you – tricks which most of today’s romcoms could well benefit from re-learning.
Top-notch extras include a detailed commentary from film historian Joseph McBride and Kerr’s singing double Marni Nixon, and some thorough featurettes.
Especially fun is the contemporary premiere footage, which couldn’t be more Mad Men if Don Draper was getting it on in the background.