According to Alexander Walker in 'Sex in the Movies', Marlene Dietrich turned down the film "on the grounds that she could never be convincing as a woman who tries to gas herself because she cannot keep her lover or find other men." See more »
After her second Oscar in Streetcar Named Desire Vivien Leigh made only three more films and in all of them she played older women who are hungering for love. Hardly the image of the saucy Scarlett O'Hara which she won her first Oscar with, but it did allow her to transition into roles for older women. This one her in The Deep Blue Sea is way too uncomfortably close to her real life.
In this film it opens with her attempting suicide and being saved by prying neighbors. Her much younger second husband has left her and in flashbacks we learn what was going on. Vivien had been raised a prim and proper church girl with a country parson for a father. She learned the biblical view of sex that did not leave much room for later research into the field on a more clinical basis. She married the older and more settled Emlyn Williams who is a judge. But as they got older Emlyn got less interested in sex. Enter Kenneth More who was an RAF air ace and now a test pilot. That's real glamor for her and like Anna Karenina, another Leigh part she leaves Williams and runs off with More.
But More's got issues also, he's an alcoholic and deep down he's looking for a mother figure. Since she and Williams had no children, Leigh isn't recognizing this nor is she prepared to deal with it.
Terrence Ratigan adapted his own play to the screen and rather well since the play only takes place in Leigh's apartment. We get some scenes of London night life in 1955 and with More's job, part of the film takes place at an air show. On Broadway the play ran for 132 performances in 1952-53 and starred Margaret Sullavan.
Offering advice and counsel is defrocked psychiatrist Eric Portman who is a neighbor. But as Leigh finds out as does the audience there are no no easy answers.
The Deep Blue Sea is not as good a work from Ratigan as The Browning Version or Separate Tables. Still the cast performs well, especially Vivien Leigh who made very infrequent screen appearances now.
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