The Affair (1973) Review
The Affair is a made-for-TV movie that is about as interesting as watching water boil. Made in 1973, it is one of the few films in which Natalie Wood sings, and it is one of the few times that Wood and her real-life husband Robert Wagner appeared in the same production. Wood and Wagner may have had tremendous chemistry together in person, but it doesn't translate that well to the screen -- at least not in this movie.
In fact, there really isn't much in the way of “chemistry” in this movie, either between Wagner and Wood or among any of the other characters. This may have been reflective of the true state of their marriage. At the time of Wood’s death in an alleged boating accident, there has been an aura of suspicion surrounding husband Wagner with some tabloid TV shows even insinuating that he murdered his wife. Certainly, his behavior after his wife’s death helped to fuel suspicions, as Wagner seemed almost hell-bent on engaging in public romances with practically every unmarried actress he could get his hands on.
In The Affair, Wagner comes across as a stalker type to Wood’s fluffy singer/songwriter character, practically forcing himself into her life. Wood’s character, whose legs are paralyzed from childhood polio, finally gives in to his advances, and before you know it, he's proclaiming his love for her.
The progression of their relationship is erratically presented and this, coupled with choppy editing, leads the viewer to be less than assured as to what is transpiring, with character motivation being almost completely ignored in the writing. You never understand just why Wagner’s character is attracted to Wood or what she sees in him. One gets the impression that the producer, Aaron Spelling, assumed the audience already knew Wagner and Wood were married in real life, and thus, there was no real need to actually portray a romance between their characters. Just simply going through the motions was good enough for Spelling, but not for the demands of making a good movie.
The poor plot development is not the only problem with this movie. The quality of the direction is very poor, even by made-for-TV movie standards. The plot is weak, and the characters are grossly underdeveloped. This movie has all sorts of 1970’s fashions, including bell bottoms, shag carpeting, and Elton John glasses. Wood is supposed to use crutches due to her medical condition, but every once in a while, we see her standing up and/or walking without crutches, and then in the same scene, the crutches magically reappear. Evidently, while filming, someone would notice that Wood was without her crutches and she would then be outfitted with them and the shooting would continue. Apparently, the producer thought the viewers would be too stupid to notice. Either that or he was too cheap to bother redoing the crutchless scenes.
Speaking of the flick’s budget, you can tell that it was really tight. Too tight to afford a decent script writer. The Affair is loaded with all sorts of abstract, unbelievable, and unnatural dialogue.
Unless you really like dull, pointless movies, this is one flick to avoid like the plague.
Editor's note: This review originally appeared on OMGN's former sister site FlickZone on Feb. 22, 2005.