Blogathons, Romance, Tributes To Classic Stars

The Bette Davis Blogathon: Mr. Skeffington (1944)

 

bette-davis-blogathon

Crystal over at In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood is hosting this blogathon all about Bette Davis. I’m looking forward to reading all the other posts by those taking part. This is the first time I have ever taken part in a Blogathon, so I’m very excited to be taking part in this.

I’ve decided to write about a great favourite of mine, the 1944 romantic drama, Mr. Skeffington.

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Fanny. Screenshot by me.

Based on the novel by Elizabeth von Arnim; Mr. Skeffington focuses on the beautiful, young socialite, Fanny Trellis(Bette Davis). Fanny can twist men around her little finger, they dote on her, are entranced by her, and she both knows and loves it!

From her first scene to her last, Bette makes Fanny the centre of attention as she floats around like a brightly coloured butterfly amongst all those love struck men drawn to her like bees to honey, moths to a…well, by now you should be getting the picture.

Bette was never better than when she was playing bad girls, and her performance here is another good example of this. What I find fascinating about this particular role though is that although Fanny is a selfish heartbreaker, I do find myself wondering if she is always consciously aware of the effect her actions will have?

Sometimes Fanny seems to be pretty naïve, there is a real girlish quality to her, yet at other times it seems she knows exactly what will happen after she says certain things, or goes out with a certain man and uses her apparent innocence as a cover/excuse for her behaviour.

This is precisely why I love Bette so much though as an actress, she can let you see the inner workings of her characters. Bette makes her characters more complex and more human than they may have appeared on paper, or possibly appeared when played by another actress.

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Claude as the long suffering husband. Screenshot by me.

Fanny marries the kindly Job Skeffington(Claude Rains, delivering one of his most heartbreaking performances)after her brother Trippy(Richard Waring)embezzles money from him. Fanny hopes that her new marriage will allow her access to money which he can pass to her brother.

When Trippy (who hates Job)learns what she has done, he leaves home in disgust and is killed in the First World War. Grief stricken by his death, Fanny withholds any affection she once had for Job from him.

Fanny devotes herself to parties and spending time with a number of other men. Job and their daughter rarely see her anymore. Throughout all of this Job’s love for Fanny has never wavered, and seeing him so hurt by her only makes us hate what she is doing. Fanny will come to learn(at great personal cost)that looks are not everything, it is the person inside who counts most. Love isn’t about the physical, it is really all about two souls connecting.

My favourite scenes are the following.

1- Job and Fanny on their honeymoon boat trip, the pair are on deck and see a passionate young couple get serenaded; Fanny is utterly convinced they too will be serenaded by this band who are rumoured to always be able to pick out newlyweds and play for them onboard. The band approach, Fanny looks expectant, satisfied even and then the band members look at one another, shake their heads and walk past leaving a perplexed Fanny in their wake; she didn’t realise(but Job did)that they are not acting like a couple in love.

2- Job sitting by Fanny’s bed when they learn she is pregnant. He is overjoyed and wants to be with her, she is distressed at the thought pregnancy may affect her appearance and she also doesn’t want to have the baby at home. Job is dismissed and we can see the heartbreak it causes.

3-Fanny visiting Job at his company. When news of The First World War being declared comes through, his office is swamped with employees asking what stocks they should buy up etc. For once Fanny is of interest to no one and it throws her somewhat. Bette is very good in this scene, going from in control and flirting, to being completely overwhelmed by something out of her control. I love how she ends up standing on a chair to get out of the way of people barging in and tries to regain Job’s attention.

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Fanny having fun in the roaring twenties. Screenshot by me.

4- Fanny drinking in a club in the 1920’s with a man she is having an affair with. A drunk man keeps telling her that she is gorgeous. He invites more drunks over to gaze at her, who all in turn say she is the most beautiful woman they’ve ever seen. Fanny is utterly delighted at this attention and has a right laugh about it it all.

Bette is excellent in this film as the flirtatious, fun loving, seductive and enchanting Fanny. One moment she is all childlike innocence, vulnerability, and excitement and the next, she is despicable, cruel, vain and extremely selfish. Throughout all of this though, Bette keeps you interested in the character and even makes her sympathetic during certain scenes, she is not all bad and is more complicated than she may appear to be at first.

I always get the impression that Fanny needs attention and compliments because it makes her feel special; if she accepts her marriage with Job she will no longer feel as unique, desired as she does when she parades around with all the other men. That I can be so intrigued by Fanny is, I think, a real testament to Bette’s abilities as an actress, it is because of her performance and not the writing that makes me so fascinated. I can’t imagine another actress playing this role quite the way Bette does.

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Job tells Fanny some sad news. Screenshot by me.

Without a doubt this is Bette’s film, but I’d also like to give a shout out to Claude Rains.He is superb here(endless shots of puppy dog eyes), and a sense his character harbours a quiet hope that one day something might change between him and Fanny.

This film could so easily have ended up belonging to either of these brilliant actors at the cost of the other, but actually neither of them ends up overshadowing the other. Bette often said that Claude was her favourite co-star and I think they were a perfect screen fit. I really like them together in this, Deception and Now Voyager. I really wish they had made many more films together.

This is a real tearjerker and that ending gets me every time I see it.

Expertly directed by Vincent Sherman. Terrific performances all round, beautiful costumes courtesy of Orry-Kelly and some gorgeous set design courtesy of Fred M. MacLean.  On top of all that, we get Bette at the height of her fame and talent, always a treat to watch. Bette, thank you so much for so many fine performances over the years, you are greatly missed.

I highly recommend this if you haven’t seen it. If you have, please share your thoughts on the film and on Bette’s performance.

 

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Horror

The Birds (1963)

I’d like to talk today about a Hitchcock film that I consider to be his scariest work. The film is the nature horror The Birds. The film is based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier (whose work had been adapted for the screen by Hitch before)with the story setting changed from Cornwall to a coastal American town.

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The birds gather. Screenshot by me.

When this film was released in 1963, Alfred Hitchcock had been the master of suspense for decades, but he had never before made a film that could really be classed as a horror film. Psycho released in 1960, certainly has some horror elements, but it is still essentially a suspense thriller.

The Birds however is certainly an all out horror film.From its opening titles which feature no music, only the squawking of birds, we know that we are in for a very different experience than we are usually used to getting from this director.

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Melanie, Cathy and Mitch are trapped during a bird attack. Screenshot by me.

 The film makes us afraid of something we share our lives with everyday, the birds we see eating off the floor, flying through the air, and sitting on trees, buildings etc. The film  makes us think what would we do if they ever decided to attack us all the time. When I first saw this, I have to confess to having been left a bit wary of birds for a while after viewing.

I like how the ordered lives of the characters are completely destroyed, they find themselves out of control and pursued by something they would never have thought could hurt them.

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Mitch and Melanie share a drink and get to know one another. Screenshot by me.

Wealthy Melanie Daniels(Tippi Hedren)meets lawyer Mitch Brenner(Rod Taylor)in a bird shop. He is trying to find some love birds to give to his younger sister Cathy(Veronica Cartwright), when he recognises Melanie as the woman who is always in the news for practical jokes and scandals.

Mitch decides to have a bit of fun at her expense, and he decides to give her a large dose of her own medicine.

Mitch pretends that he thinks Melanie works in the shop and asks her to show him some birds, this leads to some very amusing scenes until he tells the truth(much to her annoyance).

There is an instant attraction between the two, and Melanie buys a pair of lovebirds, and finds Mitch’s weekend address(family home)out in Bodega Bay. Melanie drives up to leave them for Cathy, she takes a boat over to the house(to arrive unnoticed) as she is trying to leave without being noticed Mitch catches sight of her and drives over to the dock to await her return, as she comes closer to the dock she is attacked by a seagull.

From this moment on there are more bird attacks in the town, and large groups of birds congregate in public places. Mitch, Cathy, their mother Lydia(Jessica Tandy), Melanie and schoolteacher(and former girlfriend of Mitch)Annie(Suzanne Pleshette)try and figure out what is causing these attacks, and find a way to survive.

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Melanie trapped in a phonebox being attacked by birds. Screenshot by me.

The more I’ve watched this, I’ve picked up on something that I haven’t seen anyone else mention when discussing this film.

The majority of the bird attacks happen at moments of increasing intimacy between Mitch and Melanie. They also increase as Mitch and Melanie’s feelings for one another grow. Hitchcock was a perfectionist and everything in his films was there for a reason.

I would find it very difficult to believe that the bird attacks coinciding with emotional moments, or during moments of sexual tension were not intentionally included. If you pick up on this possibility, then I think it adds another layer to the film. I also love the way Rod and Tippi play their shared scenes. I really love the sexual tension and flirtatious banter between their characters.

Rod Taylor is superb as the strong, playful Mitch devoted to his family and trying to protect those he loves from these attacks; his performance in this is what made me a fan, I love him in this.

Tippi Hedren makes a strong debut as Melanie, and does a good job of portraying a strong woman becoming vulnerable and falling in love. It is a real shame she didn’t go on to become a bigger star, her performance here and in Hitchcock’s  Marnie are very good indeed.

Suzanne Pleshette steals every scene she is in as the knowing Annie. She can see Mitch and Melanie are falling in love, even if they themselves might not be aware of it. Annie is very heroic and I feel sorry for her character for two reasons. Firstly she still has feelings for Mitch. Secondly for what happens to her later on in the film. 

Jessica Tandy is moving as the widowed mother of Mitch, desperate not to lose her son and being cold towards any woman he loves.

A very young Veronica Cartwright is good as Cathy Brenner, terrified by what she is seeing but still loving towards her lovebirds.

The ending is bleak and we are left hoping the best for these characters, but it doesn’t look likely that there will be a happy ending. The original scripted ending was even bleaker, and I do wish it had been filmed as it shows how far the attacks had spread; they drive through the town to find utter devastation, dead bodies and thousands of birds as far as the eye can see.

My favourite scenes are the following. Mitch and Melanie talking about her mother up on the hill. The banter between Mitch and Melanie when he is treating Melanie’s cut. The attack where Melanie is trapped in the phonebox. Melanie and Annie discussing Mitch and Lydia before the bid hits their door. Lydia finding the dead farmer. The birds gathering behind Melanie at the school, and the scene with the bird expert lady talking about the attacks.

I also love the scene where Melanie is driving, her body leans left and right when she turns corners, on the seat next to her, the lovebirds are leaning left and right too. That scene always makes me laugh whenever I watch this. A very brief moment of humour in a very chilling film.

One of Hitchcock’s best films, and a very good horror film in it’s own right. If you’re a fan please leave your thoughts. If you’ve never seen it, I hope you’ll check it out.

 

Page To Screen, Western

The Searchers (1956)

I consider this to be the greatest film that John Ford ever directed, and that is saying something I think because John Ford made so many fine films during his long career. He was one of the best directors of Western films there has ever been as far as I’m concerned.

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John Wayne as Ethan. Screenshot by me.

When I watch a John Ford Western, I feel as though I have actually been transported back to that particular time period. Ford’s Western films really bring that era to life for us.

I consider this film to be a real high point, not only in the Western genre, but also in Ford’s film career. This film is also one of the best films to come out of Warner Brothers Studios during the 1950’s. This film is dark, complex, exciting, epic and powerful.

For those who think John Wayne can’t act, I say that they should really watch this film. He delivers what is possibly his best performance here, as the complex, fearless, and endlessly fascinating Ethan Edwards.

I think that John does such a superb job of conveying the inner workings of this man’s mind to us through his expressions alone.

There’s so much to enjoy in this film. The acting is terrific, the story is thrilling, moving and powerful. In short this film has something in it for everyone to be able to enjoy and marvel at.

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The family home ablaze. Screenshot by me.

The visuals in this film are absolutely stunning. So many scenes stand out to me in this film: That opening shot of the door. The sequences shot out in monument valley. Ethan’s reaction to seeing the burning home(surely an inspiration for George Lucas when he made Star Wars? I’m thinking specifically of the scene in Star Wars:A New Hope where Luke returns home to see his aunt and uncle, and instead finds their home ablaze). That unforgettable close up of Wayne’s face looking in horror, pity and disgust at a group of emotionally damaged white women rescued from captivity amongst American Indians.

The film is based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May. I’ve yet to read the novel, but I am very eager to do so; apparently the ending of the novel is much bleaker than what we get in the film. It will be interesting to compare the book to the film.

I want to take a moment to mention my thoughts concerning the opening title sequence, and also that famous final shot of the film. The title sequence sees the opening credits play out against a backdrop of what looks like a wall. This wall consists of what looks like bricks or big slabs of stone. Homes and communities are of course built using such things.  I think that this was used to convey that the story we’re about to witness is one such story showing what happened during the time towns and communities were being built in the old west.

I’d also like to say a few words about the final scene of the film. I see the final shot as saying that the family we see here represent the future of the country of America. People like Ethan, and the violence and horror he causes, belong firmly in the America of the past. That family going into the home represent the civilised society of the future, and people like Ethan will find that they have no place in such a society.

Ethan Edwards(John Wayne)returns home to Texas, after fighting in the civil war. He goes to the home of his brother, Aaron(Walter Coy). We pick up instantly(without any dialogue to tell us)that Ethan and his sister in law Martha(Dorothy Jordan)are in love, and that they have been for some time.

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Lucy is terrified during the raid on her home. Screenshot by me.

Whilst Ethan is away one day with some neighbours, a Comanche raiding party led by Chief Scar(Henry Brandon)attacks the Edward’s home, burn it to ground, kill Aaron, Martha and their son, and kidnap their two daughters, Lucy(Pippa Scott)and Debbie(Lana Wood).

Ethan sets out to find his nieces. He is helped in his quest by half Indian Martin Pawley(Jeffrey Hunter)who was raised by Aaron and Martha as their son. Also along for the trek are the loveable Mose Harper(Hank Worden),fearless Reverend Clayton(Ward Bond)and Lucy’s boyfriend, Brad(Harry Carey Jr). Will they find the girls?

Many viewers call Ethan racist because of the attitude he displays towards the Native American Indians that he encounters. While his behaviour may seem racist to us today, I actually think that is not the case at all. 

During the scene where Martha tells Debbie to hide in the family graveyard during the raid, make sure you pause the DVD just before she sits in front of the headstones. These graves she sits beside are her grandparents(Ethan and Aaron’s parents). Under the name, date of birth and death dates etc, the headstone inscriptions state that the grandparents were killed by Comanche Indians.

    The gravestone that may hold the key to Ethan’s hate. 

Screenshot by me.

It took me a few viewings to pick up on the details above, but that detail now makes me think those deaths are actually the reason for why Ethan hates Indians so much. He doesn’t hate these people for who they are, but he does hate them for what they did. I personally think he would be just as hateful towards anyone who had done that to his family.

It also explains why he lets Martin stay with him on his trek. If he was a racist and hated Indian people for who they are, then I’m sure that he wouldn’t have wanted to be around Martin at all because of his heritage. I think all of this information adds another layer to this film and to Ethan’s character. I also like how we see that he has clearly studied the Comanche culture very closely. Ethan knows more about them than any of the other white men and women we see in the film.

What’s so interesting about Ethan and his issues is that Ford does not spoon feed any of this information to us, it’s there if you look out for it and pay close attention, but it’s not immediately obvious. to the viewer. We are left to make up our minds about Ethan and his attitudes. The ambiguity about his character is part of what makes this such a fascinating film to watch, and I think it also helps make it a film that is far from a typical Western.

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Henry Brandon as Chief Scar. Screenshot by me.

I have also always thought that Ethan and Scar may have had dealings before, the way they look at one another when they meet, and how Ethan’s hatred seems to lift after his confrontation with him has always led me to believe Ethan hated him for what he had done to his family and perhaps for something else he had done.

Listen to what Ethan tells Martin about the woman’s hair they find in Scar’s tent. How could Ethan know that information unless he had been present at the event he mentions?

I also really love how so much of the violence and horror in this film is suggested to us by Ford. The horror Ethan finds at his destroyed home and the state of his families bodies don’t need to be seen by us in detail because we can imagine all too well what has been done to them. The reactions of Wayne and Hunter in this scene also convey to us just how horrible the situation is.

When we find out what happened to Lucy, again we don’t need to see that  in graphic detail. The way Wayne describes what he found when searching for Lucy, and his haunted look when he speaks, tell us everything we need to know about what he came across in that canyon. These are two very powerful examples of how suggestion can be even more disturbing and effective as showing us terrible things in graphic detail.

I also like how Ford shows us that white people also committed plenty of atrocities against the Native American Indians; it wasn’t all one sided with the Indians as the villains they were so often painted as being. This is depicted best in the sequence where the army ride through and destroy an Indian settlement. Ethan and Martin arrive at the settlement later and find the inhabitants all slaughtered. That was really quite a bold thing for Ford to put in the film I think.

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Jeffrey Hunter as Martin. Screenshot by me.

The heart of the film lies in the desperate attempts to find Debbie(played as an adult by Natalie Wood) Martin fears for her because he is starting to believe Ethan may kill her if he ever finds her because she will be so changed. But Ethan is unpredictable and perhaps Martin need not worry so much.

If there is a downside to this film, I think it certainly lies with two things; firstly having white actors play Native American characters is problematic. I totally understand that was accepted acting practice back in the day, but I’ve just never understood why actual Native American actors couldn’t have been cast at the time.

Also the lack of screen time for the female characters bothers me. This story is not only Ethan’s story. I would have liked to have seen more of Martha, Mrs. Jorgensen(Olive Carey), Debbie, and of Laurie. When these characters are on screen the actresses playing them certainly do their best, and they all make an impact delivering solid performances, but it never feels like we get to know them as much as many of the male characters in the film.

I’d also like to have seen a few more scenes of Ethan and the older Debbie reconnecting on the journey home. I also think the film ended a bit abruptly. Debbie faces emotional trauma as she gradually comes to remember what happened as a child. There will no doubt be years of reconnecting with those she hasn’t seen for a long time lying ahead for her. I think it would have been good if we had got a taste of some of that at least. It’s like the film ended a bit too quick, without really addressing the difficult stage that comes next for the characters.

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Vera Miles as Laurie. Screenshot by me.

The entire cast are superb. Vera Miles provides good support as the strong Laurie, the strong daughter of the west who loves Martin. Wayne delivers a fine performance as a complex and bitter man who is needed to confront violence with violence, but who has no place in the civilised world and society that remain after such acts have been finished; hence that famous final shot of the door closing on him. Natalie Wood is good as a young woman torn between two worlds and communities. I just wish we could have seen more of Natalie in the film.

My favourite scenes are the following. The river shootout. Laurie pouring water all over Martin. Ethan being asked what he had found back in the canyon, we see he is traumatised and we can guess what he found. The raid on the ranch. Ethan coming back to find the ranch ablaze. Ethan chasing Debbie.

The Searchers is a thrilling psychological Western, featuring stunning visuals, and a truly magnificent score by Max Steiner.

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That famous final shot. Screenshot by me.

This is John Ford at his best. His film shows us the good things about the old west; such as the strong community bond, people willing to help strangers, people risking all to start new communities. We also see the bad side of the west, such as the violence, the death. We also get a sense of the old and open country of the west starting to disappear, as white men move out into the land of the Native Americans destroying and changing it to build their own communities on this ancient land.

I urge you all to see this one on Blu-ray, the picture is so clear that it looks like it was made today. Seeing this in such good quality makes me long to see this masterpiece up on the big screen as it was intended to be shown.

 

Edit 14.04.2018: I am entering this into Thoughts All Sorts Great Western Blogathon. Find all the entries here. 

I’d love to know what you think of this film. Please leave your comments below.

 

 

 

 

Detective, Films I Love, Japanese Cinema

Stray Dog(1949)

If you thought that Akira Kurosawa’s films were all historical epics, featuring swordfights and Samurai warriors, then you really need to think again. Kurosawa also made several dramas and thrillers set in the present day of his time(40’s and 50’s Japan.)

Two of my favourites amongst these particular set of films are Ikiru and The Quiet Duel. 

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Murakami gets desperate. Screenshot by me.

Stray Dog is another great favourite of mine. It is a type of film that I dearly wish Kurosawa had made more of.

I really do love Akira Kurosawa’s Samurai films, but I find that his lesser known drama films have become even more special to me than the samurai films. It is to these more intimate drama films that I keep returning again and again.

The film is set in Japan and takes place during a rather oppressive heatwave. This Noir Thriller features Kurosawa’s regular lead actor Toshiro Mifune. Mifune delivers one of the best performances of his career in this film.

Mifune is excellent as the sweat soaked, keen, rookie detective Murakami. When his police gun is stolen from him he doesn’t stop trying to track it down. As time goes on, Murakami finds that his gun has moved on from the pickpocket who snatched it and into the criminal underworld.

Murakami becomes guilt ridden when the gun becomes linked to crimes. It is at this point that he has to ask for help in his search for the gun(and in a way his own redemption). Murakami is helped by veteran detective Sato(Takashi Shimura at his best here, perfectly conveying wisdom and world weariness).

This is such a good film. It is exciting, moving and very thrilling too. There is some striking photography by Asaichi Nakai, and some strong performances from pretty much everyone in the cast. Even people who feature for a small amount of screen time make a real impression.

The film is shot on location and that really adds a great deal of authenticity to the story we are watching. The film also shows us the good and bad sides of life in that country. The film also shows us a side of Japanese life which we don’t see too often on screen, that of nightclubs and dancehalls.

The film rarely lets up on its edge the seat thrills, but there are some quieter moments to be found too. A scene that always stays with me after viewing, shows the grief stricken husband of a woman killed by Murakami’s stolen gun sobbing in his wife’s garden; we see (as does Murakami)the terrible impact such a crime has on the victims loved ones.

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The wise Sato. Screenshot by me.

Interestingly Sato seems quite distant in that scene, which to me shows that he has seen so many similar things in his career. Due to his experience at dealing with such crimes he has in a way become used to and hardened against such things.

Sato tries to teach Murakami that he can’t get personally involved in every case, if he did the emotions would break him apart; but the older detective also knows he can’t teach that, it is something that has to be learnt by bitter experience. Sato and Murakami’s odd couple relationship also predates the buddy cop plots which are so common in films and series today.

The finale in the field is tense and deeply moving, as we find ourselves feeling some pity for someone who we should actually hate. If the film tells us anything, it is that crime is a destroyer and waster all round, there are only losers in such a life. The lives of both the victims and perpetrators of crime are ruined and forever altered by criminal activity of one sort or another.

Strangely enough Kurosawa himself never actually regarded this film very highly for some reason. I’d love to know why that was, as this really is one of his very best films.

A great one to watch over the weekend. If you’re not really into Japanese cinema this would serve as a great introduction I think, give it a go and share your thoughts.

If, like me, you are already a fan of this flick then please share your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

British Cinema, Romance, Unsung Classics

Unsung Classics 2: The Passionate Friends(1949)

 

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Mary and Steven in Switzerland. Screenshot by me.

Continuing on with the unsung series. Today I’m focusing on this British romantic drama, starring Trevor Howard, Claude Rains and Ann Todd.

I find it so hard to choose just one film as my all time favourite, but if I had to choose just one, I really do think this film might well be it.

If you think that H.G Wells only wrote science fiction,  then you really need to think again. In 1913, his novel about adultery, called The Passionate Friends was published.

This film written by Eric Ambler and directed by David Lean is based upon Wells’s novel(I’ve never read the novel, but from the write up I’ve found online, I think I’d be better off sticking with the screen adaptation as the original story doesn’t actually sound like my cup of tea. I may check it out at some point if I ever come across it.)

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Ann Todd as Mary. Screenshot by me.

Mary Justin(Ann Todd)is married to Howard Justin(Claude Rains), a much older man who is very wealthy. At a New Years Eve party Mary runs into her former lover Steven Stratton(Trevor Howard)and discovers that she still has feelings for him. The pair strike up a friendship but neither can deny their romantic attraction.

Howard discovers their affair and he puts an end to it, or at least he thinks he does. Nine years later in a Swiss hotel, Mary and Steven meet again and once again can’t deny their feelings. Mary has to choose which man she will stay with.

Not only is Mary now torn between two different men, but she must also choose between two very different types of love, the physical and the emotional (represented by Steven who is passionate, tender and expressive); there is also Howard who is more reserved, gentle, and very set in his ways. Both men love her very much, but with which man (and which type of love) does she find herself happiest with?

I like how this film doesn’t judge the three characters for the choices they make, and for the difficult situation they find themselves caught up in. We sympathise with all three characters as the film goes on. A situation like this does happen often in life, and it is not easy or pleasant for those involved to have to choose between their loves, or leave both and start again somewhere else. This film shows us how painful, how magnificent and how all encompassing love and desire can be. 

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Trevor Howard as Steven. Screenshot by me.

In many ways this film mirrors Lean’s earlier classic Brief Encounter. You could almost view this film as the sequel to that, with Howard appearing in both films and playing a doctor in both. There’s also the dull but loving husband, and a woman desperate for love who is torn between one life and another.

Both films even contain a scene at a train station where a main character contemplates suicide, and both of these suicide consideration sequences feature a shot of a bright light glowing on the face of the character contemplating this act. 

Ann Todd is superb as the young woman struggling against her own feelings and not really wanting to hurt either of these men, but knowing whichever choice she makes will end up hurting one of them. Todd was married to David Lean and appeared in several of his films, she is an actress who deserved many more film roles.

Ann is a very expressive actress and in this film she doesn’t need words in most scenes as her face tells us all we need to know(particularly during the tube station finale.)

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Claude Rains as Justin. Screenshot by me.

This features my all time favourite Claude Rains performance, as the man who knows what is going on under his nose, doesn’t like it but no matter what can’t give up the woman he loves.

Claude also makes us really feel for Justin and makes him likeable, which makes the situation even more poignant all round. I especially love him in the scene where he confronts Mary and Steven and they realise he knows about them; Claude owns that scene and makes it quite funny.

Trevor Howard is very good as the outgoing, earnest younger man, who is desperately trying to start again with the woman he loves. I love him in the scene where Steven and Howard have a confrontation at Howard’s home, and in the scenes in Switzerland where Steven and Mary share some happy times.

There is some gorgeous and interesting photography in this and beautiful scenes of the Swiss lakes and mountains. The film also cleverly uses flashbacks to show us Mary and Steven’s earlier relationship and how happy and passionate they were.

My favourite scenes are the following. The New Year’s Eve party.  Justin’s outburst at Mary, which then leads us to the unforgettable finale. The entire sequence in Switzerland.

The ending isn’t one you forget in a hurry and it is very moving and suspenseful. This is a film that deserves a great deal more attention. Highly recommended. If you happen to be a fan of this one, please do share your thoughts.