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C. Aubrey Smith
Leslie Howard stars in "Berkeley Square," also starring Heather Angel.
Howard plays Peter Standish, who is fascinated by all the material he finds in his house from his 18th century ancestors, 146 years earlier. He believes that if he wants to, he can go back to that time. This film is the predecessor to many time travel films, including Somewhere in Time.
His ancestor, also Peter Standish, visited his house from America on a particular date. Peter changes places with him on that date in the present.
At first, all is well; then he starts slipping and speaking of things in the future to the extent that people begin to believe he is possessed b the devil. The only person who senses the real Peter is Helen Pettigrew (Heather Angel) a Standish cousin. He and Helen fall in love, and she is able to see the future through his eyes -- war, weapons of destruction, neon lights, cars - it all terrifies her. This is the best sequence in the film.
Helen cannot go into the future with him -- and doesn't want to, given what she's seen -- and he's a pariah, and will make her one, if he stays.
This is a charming film badly in need of restoration. Leslie Howard is perfect as Peter -- handsome, ethereal, and well-suited to the period aspects. Heather Angel, whom I've just gotten to know in the Bulldog Drummond series, is delightful, petite and pretty with a soothing voice and a fragility that lends itself well to the role.
Berkeley Square was remade in 1951 as "I'll Never Forget You," starring Tyrone Power, which has a less sober ending - before it was released on DVD, it was in the TCM website's top ten of most requested films to be released as a DVD. There's something appealing about time travel - otherwise, there wouldn't be so many films about it. But there's also something appealing and modern about the premise of Berkeley Square - that all time runs parallel and is all happening at once. Quantum physics would agree that this is so.
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