My darling Irene Dunne received her fourth Best Actress nomination for playing Terry, a woman in love in Love Affair, the original version of the 1957 romantic classic, An Affair to Remember. Poor Irene Dunne, she never won an Oscar, she deserved so much and not even an Honorary Oscar. It's a funny world we live in: Reese Witherspoon is an Oscar-winner and Dunne never got an award. Shame. I think she had the least chance of winning in this year as she was a serious threat to win in her other years (particularly 1937 and 1948). I guess she was fourth after all.
Love Affair is an excellent and entertaining love story, which was really so natural and enjoyable that I loved the most of it. The second part of the movie is a bit rushed though, I think they could have told something more about these characters. This is not a real complaint actually, as I liked the movie as it was, but it could have lasted a bit longer since I wanted more of the joy. Charles Boyer was a brilliant actor (it's so awful that he's a bit forgotten nowadays) and he proved it here once again. Maria Ouspenskaya deserved her Oscar nom, but a win would have been much. I can say the same about the movie.
And Irene Dunne. In a way. While I was watching Love Affair, I became a real fan of Ms. Dunne. Actually, I had previously seen only two of her films. I loved her in The Awful Truth (her best performance and I am really loud with this opinion in the blogosphere LOL), but I felt a bit neutral toward her in I Remember Mama (but that was actually the movie's fault). Right now, I am proud to say that I'm an official Irene Dunne fan and I am going to watch as many of her films as I can.
But since this blog is not an Irene Dunne fanclub, I have to talk about her performance in Love Affair. And she's (once again) simply wonderful and has a very magnetic and charming presence. From the very beginning to the very last scene I was in love with her: everything was so right, so lovely, so enchanting, so adorable, so emotional.
This performance very successfully combines the technical and the emotional part. I was totally mesmerized by her sometimes and although I thought sometimes that she wasn't that amazing, she totally grew on me in a couple of minutes(!). I needed a little bit of time to fully appreciate her very intelligent and subtle acting.
She took this very simple and ordinary character and she created an effective mix with which she totally amazed me. I always felt that behind the smiling face of Terry there was some deep bitterness, but also so much hope for a better, calm life with a man with whom she can share her feelings and secrets. It's so heartbreaking to see her trying to be a mother of the orphans as she does not have children. Again, her eyes tell everything we need to know.
Another amazing thing about this performance is that Dunne is never too sentimental or soappy. She could so easily hold herself back in the dangerous scenes (most of her peers should have learned from her example). I love that Irene Dunne was always able to control a performance and show the real face of her character (and by this she also might sacrifice the big impact).
Her chemistry with Charles Boyer is simply perfect: they just look so well together that you instantly think that this is a match made in Heaven. Oh yes, that's the romantic side of me, but the merciless critic is impressed in me too. I have never been afraid to criticize popular performances or to express my fondness of least loved achievements. I am not saying this to hail myself, but to show Dunne's brilliance. There wasn't doubt in me for a second that I would not like her.
In a movie, which was her personal favorite, Dunne was able to create a lively, charming, emotional and lovely performance, which might be a bit slow for others, but I was a total sucker for this one. She's just becomes better and better as I think about her. Excellent, intelligent work.