Love Affair

Love Affair is from 1939 and stars Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. It has some great behind-the-scenes trivia.

In this movie we have an actor who inspired a famous cartoon character.
Two of the actors committed suicide by the same method.

And after the film came out restaurants were suddenly bombarded with requests for pink champagne-read on to see why.

The movie was directed by Leo McCarey, a 3-time Oscar winner, who was also responsible for getting Laurel & Hardy together for the 1st time. He was the first director to win three major Academy Awards for one film --Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing, Original Story, for Going My Way in 1944.

He was considered one of the most handsome directors in Hollywood, and some said as good looking as Cary Grant, whom he directed in four films. In 1937, he directed The Awful Truth, a screwball comedy that launched Cary Grant's unique screen persona, which was largely created by McCarey.

Grant also copied many of McCarey's mannerisms and McCarey accused Cary Grant of ripping off his persona, saying that the star's style and personality was just like his. And although McCarey and Grant worked together several times after that their relationship never fully recovered.

20 years later, McCarey co-wrote, produced and directed the 1957 remake of this film that most people remember, with Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr. Take note of how closely the remake follows tonight’s original, almost scene for scene.

Irene Dunne, Terry McKay, was unusual in Hollywood in that she debuted as a leading lady in her very first film in 1930, and was still a leading lady in her last film in 1952.

A singer, a dancer, and one of Hollywood’s finest actresses, she has been described as the best actress to never win an Oscar. She was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, but never won.

In 1959, President Eisenhower named her an alternate delegate to the UN General Assembly. Dunne was also the Grand Marshall of the parade on the opening day of Disneyland in California. She married a dentist early in her career and they stayed married until his death in 1965.

Charles Boyer, playing Michel Marney, grew up in France and was one of the most popular actors in Europe. He spoke French, German, Italian and Spanish but when he went to Hollywood, he didn’t speak a word of English so MGM had him make French films while he learned English.

In 1938, he landed his famous role as Pepe le Moko, the thief on the run in the film Algiers. And athough he never said "Come with me to the Casbah" in the movie, the line was in the movie trailer and would stick with him throughout his career.

And now for our cartoon inspiration: animator Chuck Jones based the character of Pepe le Pew, the romantic skunk of Looney Tunes fame, on Boyer's well-known role as Pepe Le Moko.

In the 1950's, Boyer joined with actors Dick Powell and David Niven to form "Four Star Productions". The fourth star was supposed to have been Joel McCrea, but he backed out.

The production company produced such hits as Zane Grey Theater, The Rifleman, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Johhny Ringo, Burke’s Law, The Smothers Brothers and Big Valley.

And Boyer received 4 Oscar nominations but never won. His wife died in 1978 and he was so despondent over her death that, 2 days later, he killed himself with a fatal overdose of barbituates.

Scotty Beckett, the boy on the ship, was one of the cutest, most successful child actors of the 1930s and ‘40s, and his descent into a life of alcoholism, drugs, and crime remains one of Hollywood’s most tragic stories.

Beckett made his screen debut at age 4 in 1933 and was a cast member in the Spanky & Our Gang series from 1934-1936. After leaving Our Gang, Beckett emerged as one of the top child stars of his era, appearing in films with the top stars of the 30s and 40s, including Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo, Cary Grant, Van Johnson and others.

Beckett was a fixture at parties and would frequently be seen with young stars like Roddy McDowall, Jane Powell and Elizabeth Taylor. In 1948, he was arrested for drunk driving and tried to run from the booking office. This and his drinking began the downward spiral of his personal life.

In February of 1954, the Cavalier Hotel in Hollywood was robbed of $130 in cash. The robber pistol-whipped the clerk, and disappeared with the loot….or so police thought. Passed out drunk in the basement of the hotel, armed with a gun and knife, was Scotty Beckett.

He was arrested and charged with possession of a weapon, but not with the robbery because the money wasn’t found and the clerk couldn’t positively identify the former star. After posting bail, Beckett, with his wife and 3-year son in tow, fled to Mexico.

After running out of money, he wrote a bunch of bad checks and was tracked down by Mexican authorities in a hotel. When they arrived, Beckett attempted to sneak himself and his family out of the hotel and 20 shots were exchanged in a gunfight with Mexican police.

Miraculously, no one was killed, and Beckett and his wife, Sunny, were eventually captured. But he only served four months in a Mexican jail before being returned to the US.

He surrendered to US authorities for the weapons charge from the hotel robbery and was given 3 years probation. A month later, Beckett was arrested in Las Vegas, once again for bouncing a check. In February, 1957, he was caught at a US-Mexican border trying to bring illegal drugs into the US.

After his wife filed for divorce and gained custody of their son, Beckett attempted suicide by swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills. He recovered, but in April of 1959, Beckett was arrested again for drunk driving. Later that year, he was driving drunk again, but this time he smashed into a tree, fracturing his skull, thigh and hip.

Although he was given probation and a suspended sentence, he was crippled for the rest of his life. In 1963, confined to a wheelchair from the previous accident, he tried to stab his neighbor after an argument and was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.

Three days later Beckett tried to kill himself by slashing his wrists, but again he survived. But 4 years later, in May of 1967, the third time was a charm, and he died from an suicidal overdose of barbiturates at the age of 38.

In the scene when the group of girls gets Marnay’s autograph, look for the one who translates his autograph. That is an uncredited Joan Leslie, in only her fourth film.

Leslie went on to have a 50-year career in film & TV, most notably in Sgt. York & Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Donald Ogden Stewart, one of the writers, also wrote the screenplay for The Philadelphia Story, for which he won an Oscar. Stewart was blacklisted as a Communist in the 1950s and emigrated to England to continue working.

But when the US would not renew his passport, he was trapped abroad and couldn’t return to the states. The US considered him a threat to security and he died in England in 1980, never having returned to the US.

Maria Ouspenskaya, Boyer’s grandmother tonight, was one of the most dynamic, and tiniest, character actresses in Hollywood. She started on the stage in Russia before moving to the US and finding regular work on Broadway, then in Hollywood.

By the 1930s & ‘40s, if a wizened matriarch of any nationality was required for a movie - French, Polish, East Indian - she was usually the first one called. But despite her steady work in A-list pictures, she is best remembered today for her role in a classic horror film.

Ouspenskaya is the mournful gypsy woman, Maleva, who breaks the news to poor Lon Chaney Jr. that he has been bitten by a werewolf in 1941’s The Wolf Man. She also appeared in the follow-up film, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man in 1943.

She had an addiction to astrology, which could prove maddening on a set. She was in almost constant communication with her astrologer from the LA Times, and she would only want to appear on camera at the times the astrologer told her were best for her.

In spite of that, she received two supporting Oscar nominations for the films Dodsworth in 1936 and for this film. She appeared in Dodsworth for only four minutes and in Love Affair, for a total of ten minutes.

A heavy smoker, she fell asleep in bed with a lit cigarette, suffered massive burns and died 3 days later.