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William K. Howard
On the eve of World War II, a British officer revisits Waterloo Bridge and recalls the young man he was at the beginning of World War I and the young ballerina he met just before he left for the front. Myra stayed with him past curfew and is thrown out of the corps de ballet. She survives on the streets of London, falling even lower after she hears her true love has been killed in action. But he wasn't killed. Those terrible years were nothing more than a bad dream is Myra's hope after Roy finds her and takes her to his family's country estate. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
Love Building Bridges Between People; Movie Building Bridges Between Generations!
Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor in the lead...that cast made many viewers in 1940 look forward to seeing them in the movie by Mervyn LeRoy based on the play by Robert E. Sherwood. They badly wanted to see Scarlett O'Hara from GONE WITH THE WIND and Armand Duval from CAMILLE, at that time their most celebrated roles. Nowadays, when we, as classic buffs, come back to such films like WATERLOO BRIDGE, it appears that this has three most significant prompts: to admire artistic performances far from computerized voices, to have a rest in classical imagination separated from the robotic world of machines, to turn into subtleness, a bit of sentimentality and romantic love separated from the automatically selfish noise of colorful vanity. Although some films of the era cannot be described in all those categories, WATERLOO BRIDGE can.
It's first of all a classical love romance of two people torn apart in the difficult times of WWI, a ballet dancer Myra (Vivien Leigh) and Lieutenant Roy Cronin (Robert Taylor). Since the action takes place in the London of the 1910s, the realities of that time are deeply rooted in Anglo Saxon elegance, calmness, public life. The Waterloo Bridge is a special place for the two: on the one hand, so significant and unforgettable; on the other hand, so tragic and nostalgic. The characters are very easy to identify with since the problems that they face are universal. War is only a background but all the feelings of fear, treason, separation, dreams, honor, desire for understanding and sincerity are every day bread for people of all times. Roy and Myra are very convincing as a pair and as a man and a woman in general. Their romance is short but very beautiful and particularly subtle. Pity we don't find many of such interpretations nowadays. The dialogs are first rate, the chemistry between Taylor and Leigh is the right one.
The performances are exceptionally fine. Vivien is beautiful and talented. She is not Scarlett O'Hara, she is even better in some moments. Robert Taylor is also magnificent as Cronin: very good looking and genuine in the role. No wonder he said once that WATERLOO BRIDGE had been his favorite film since here, he gives his finest performance. From the supporting cast, Lucile Watson is worth attention as an elderly kind hearted Lady Cronin, Roy's mum and Myra's mother-in-law to come. She wonderfully portrays someone of a very good heart and the first moment you see her, it's just obvious that you are looking at a decent person (dream to have such a mother-in-law...) Virginia Field is sweet as Kitty, Myra's friend but the performance is shadowed. The last of the cast I'd focus on is the great C. Aubrey Smith with this specific face and an aristocratic way of acting manners. He's brilliant as the Duke who at last has a chance to dance with Myra.
The direction by Mervyn LeRoy is outstanding together with cinematography and lighting. Vivien is beautifully photographed. But, finally I'd like to concentrate on a slightly different aspect that perhaps does not appeal to people today as much as it did 67 years ago but still a significant one: the movie touches the problem of people in poverty. What is there to do if a dream for any wealth or at least for slightly better financial conditions are in vain? What do people usually turn to? The director seems to be with them who are making terrible decisions in order to survive somehow. Mervyn LeRoy, having been poor himself in childhood, perfectly directs our attention on Myra, her psyche, her decisions and sorrows, her thoughts, her conscience, her exceptionally hard situation. Is it right to judge such people? What would we do in such circumstances?
But not to address the philosophical side of reflections since that is not the gist of the movie, I'd like to say something at the end. This film is very good, very worth seeking. I heartily recommend everyone to see WATERLOO BRIDGE, a movie where you will surely find something decent for yourself. Like love build bridges between people, WATERLOO BRIDGE builds bridges between generations now. It's a pure entertainment in silver screen but with a golden spirit of message! 8/10
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