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In World War I London, Myra is an American out of work chorus girl making ends meet by picking up men on Waterloo Bridge. During a Zeppelin air raid she meets Roy, a naive young American who enlisted in the Canadian army. They fall for each other, and he tricks Myra into visiting his family who live in a country estate outside London, where his step-father is a retired British Major. However Myra is reluctant to continue the relationship with Roy, because she has not told him about her past. Written by
this time Myra really does convince as a lady of pleasure
The version of 'Waterloo Bridge' from 1940, with Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor, has always been a favourite, so I welcomed the chance to finally see the earlier take with Mae Clarke and Kent Douglass.
Similar in some ways to the remake, the 1931 version is a lot grittier and more direct. It is clear what Myra's job is right from the start, and Clarke looks the part. You never could really imagine Vivien Leigh street-walking.
As Roy the Canadian soldier home on leave, Kent Douglass is a little stiff and reserved, but he puts across well the desperation of a man in love, no matter what. It's an old story, but done well here.
Despite a few histrionics and a relatively short running time, this film is entertaining (an old woman loses potatoes in an air raid and won't move off the bridge without them), and poignant (Myra feels at home at last with Roy's country folks, but we know it won't last).
It can be found on the DVD set 'Forbidden Hollywood, volume 1'.
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