Affair To Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr was on this morning so my daughter and I took a few minutes out of our busy day to watch THE scene.
I haven't watched the entire film in years, but if I find it's on, I always watch THE scene. Which one is that? It's the one where Cary Grant is at the door leaving, and he's talking about how he painted Deborah Kerr wearing the lace mantilla, or shawl. He couldn't take money for the painting so he told the gallery owner to give it to this young woman who fancied it because she liked it and because she was... you know....
The play of emotions on his face as he's saying this and as he begins putting two and two together to get a possible four is incredible. You are so into the character that you can imagine his thoughts arriving at the impossible conclusion that the woman who was in a wheelchair and who fancied the painting is the same as his beloved who sits on the couch and makes no attempt to go to the door to see him out.
He comes back to the couch, places his coat and hat on it, and walks to the other door in the room. He opens it, sees the painting he'd been describing. That's when he creates another memorable cinematic moment. His face reflects how crushed he is, how his heart is in a vise as he realizes the woman he loves is indeed the woman in the wheelchair who visited the gallery. He's staggered by the certain knowledge and nearly falls against the door.
That is THE scene I can never miss just as I never watch it without tears sliding down my cheeks. It's the greatest of acting because of its truth. Cary Grant is so good in that scene that I forget he's Cary Grant. He is Nicky, the devastated, artist in search of his own truth.
And that is what writers strive to create with the characters we write into existence - a character so true that we are moved to tears by his heartbreak. Each time we put words together, we are searching for our own truth as reflected in the characters we endow with life.