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Although its shipboard-romance-gone-wrong plot is better known from the remake An Affair to Remember (1957), many fans and this film’s two stars consider the original, now celebrating its 80th anniversary, the definitive tale of love on the high seas. Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne star as a couple that falls in love on a trans-Atlantic cruise even though each is already engaged to someone else. They agree to wait six months after the voyage to see if they feel the same after they go back to their real lives, only to have one of the most famous twists in film history keep them apart. Although the film is best known for its four-handkerchief second half, it actually starts out as a sophisticated comedy. Director Leo McCarey used improvisation on most of his films and basically threw out the script in order to work with whatever came to mind on the day of shooting. Boyer and Dunne quickly realized there was no point in learning lines before each day of shooting, as they rarely got to say what was on the page. Instead, they worked out a series of inspired comic scenes with McCarey that gave the shipboard scenes the feel of a real vacation. (d. Leo McCarey, 88m, 35mm)

Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from The Film Foundation

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