Thursday, December 19, 2013

King Kong, Sleepless in Seattle, and An Affair to Remember… Love in the Movies at Empire State

“The Empire State Building is the closest thing to heaven in this city.”  -Terry McKay, An Affair to Remember, 1957

Like every American kid growing up, I watched New York through film, and the one landmark that captured the heart of the city the most was the Empire State Building.
“We’ll give him more than chains.  He’s always been king of his world, but we’ll teach him fear.  We’re millionaires, boys.  I’ll share it with all of you.  Why, in a few months, it’ll be up in lights on Broadway:  Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World.”  -Carl Denham, King Kong, 1933

From clever classics like Annie Hall (1977)  and Sleepless in Seattle (1993), to the edge of your seat Hitchcock thriller North by Northwest (1959), to gritty street powerhouses On the Waterfront (1954) and Taxi Driver (1976), to one of my absolute favorites, the great American tragedy:  King Kong (1933).  All, in one way or another, ran through or around or up and down the great Empire State.  Last but not least, then there is… An Affair to Remember (1957)  
“There must be something between us, even if it’s only an ocean.”  -Nickie Ferrante, An Affair to Remember, 1957

How do you know a movie is great?  If it becomes, over time, so ingrained in the culture that it becomes a part of who we are and how we live.  Such is the case, with the Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr classic.
Sam Baldwin, “She wants to meet at the top of the Empire State Building. On Valentine’s Day.”
Suzy:  “It’s like that movie.”
Sam Baldwin:  “What movie?”
Suzy:  An Affair To Remember.  Did you ever see it?  Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.  She’s going to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building… only she got hit by a taxi… and he waited and waited…and it was raining I think… and then, she’s too proud to tell him… she’s…”  -Sleepless in Seattle, 1993

Sleepless in Seattle came out when I was just out of college at a time when music and counterculture were pulling me away from romance.  In fact, I was dragged to the theater by my then girlfriend to watch this silly romp and became instantly fascinated with the scenario copied from An Affair to Remember some thirty-five years later:  Strangers.  Meeting atop the Empire State Building at Midnight.  A one night chance at forever love.
“Some big, hardboiled egg gets a look at a pretty face and bang, he cracks up and goes sappy!”   -Carl Denham warning Jack about women, King Kong, 1933

Who’s not into that?  What tough nut do you have to be NOT to be into that?  You know, here’s something funny… every Valentine’s Day, couples get married on the 80th floor here and join the Empire State Building Wedding Club.  Competition is tight.  You must submit an application and couples are chosen on the basis of style and originality…and stories of love, of course.
“Destiny is something we’ve invented because we can’t stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental.”  -Annie Reed, Sleepless in Seattle, 1993

Everybody has a story, don’t they?  These tales that make life worth living.  It takes all kinds… the big ones who rattle their chest and plunge toward death, to the little ones who are so damaged they can’t even stand.  Love hits us in such powerful ways… and as I’ll tell my daughters when they’re old enough, thank God for it.

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