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The genre of SF romances is pretty slim, and well done ones even slimmer
still. The only two that leap immediately to mind are "Quest For Love" and
"Late For Dinner". They both rank among my favorite films. For the
romantically inclined, both are also worth at least two hankies (one reason
I never watch either with anyone other than my wife).
Joan Collins looks superb (as usual) and gives an excellent, understated performance (hardly usual!) Rather than her typical shrew or strumpet (I'm trying hard to avoid adjectives that would violate the guidelines), she is a genuinely warm and sympathetic character. Aside from the voodoo that transports the protagonist into a parallel universe, the SF aspects are well constructed and don't overwhelm what is, at its core, a touching love story. The parallel universe plot is a much more effective metaphor in this case than the typical time travel gimmick common to most "what if" films such as this.
The pacing could be better and the script could have benefitted from one more revision, but it's still quite satisfying overall.
P.S. Apparently, like "Late For Dinner", "Quest For Love" is currently out of print on home video. I therefore feel fortunate to have both (QFL on Beta and LFD on VHS), so there are real official copies in existence which a diligent search might turn up.
To my considerable annoyance, every time this movie has been shown on
TV I haven't had my VCR ready to record. I've probably seen it about
three or four times, on the proverbial rainy afternoons when
little-regarded films are broadcast. It's been described by other IMDb
reviewers as a sci-fi love story, and it certainly is that. But it's
also a rare foray for a mainstream movie into counterfactual history.
(In this respect it resembles novels such as Kingsley Amis's "The
Alteration", Keith Roberts' "Pavane" and Robert Harris's "Fatherland"
more than it resembles other movies.) Colin Bell, a physicist, finds
himself in a parallel version of our world after an experiment that
goes wrong. The Second World War has not happened, and in all kinds of
subtle and intriguing ways society is less advanced. The course of his
own life has been drastically different as well: he is a playwright and
novelist, not a physicist; he attended Oxford (arts and
humanities-based) not Cambridge (science-based); his best friend
(played by Denholm Elliot) has not lost his arm in WW2; most
significantly, while single in OUR world, he discovers that he is,
albeit unfaithfully, married in this one.
I'll concede that the conclusion of the movie IS rushed, but the rest of it is so superbly executed that I'm prepared to overlook this. Of course not all of the implications of this bizarre scenario are investigated; how could they be in a 90-minute movie? I'd agree with the other IMDb reviewer, who remarked that OUR world is limned far less vividly than its doppelganger. But this is surely as it should be; after all, we KNOW our world.
The unanswered question that has nagged me every time I have seen the movie is: Where is the other Colin Trafford? Surely the arrogant, womanising drunk isn't on the loose in our world, wreaking havoc in the the domain of research physics? (I think we're meant to assume that he's temporarily inhabiting his double's comatose body in hospital.) What is highly ingenious, and could pass unnoticed, such is the subtlety of its handling, is the way in which, although we never actually see him, we infer from people's reactions exactly what sort of person the other Colin Trafford was. (I'm reminded of the scene in the original "Nutty Professor" in which Buddy Love is introduced; we see him, at first, entirely in terms of other people's reactions.)
We still seem to be too near to the 60s and 70s (psychologically if not chronologically) for people to overlook the now-quaint fashions. Come on, though! Even the 70s are thirty years ago now. We're not surprised to see people in Edwardian times, or the 1930s, dressed in radically different clothes. Why should it strike as odd (and funny) that people more than a generation ago inhabited a universe more different from ours than the one that physicist Colin Trafford finds himself in? Every time I read someone dismiss a movie because the fashions are dated I want to scream! Such a lack of historical perspective means that there's a very real danger that anyone much under 40 or so will not be able to observe the subtle, but very real, contrast between the "real" world in "Quest For Love", and its slightly more old-fashioned twin, and will thus miss out on an important layer of the movie's meaning.
I caught this on a local movie channel thinking it would be pretty hokey, but I found myself completely captivated to this fascinating science fiction romance. Joan Collins gives an unexpectedly delicate performance devoid of her usually campy mannerisms, and competent actors like Denholm Elliott appear in supporting roles. Although the ending does seem a bit abrupt, it's not bad enough to leave a negative impression.
I first saw this over twenty years ago and it stayed in my mind ever since; they never seemed to play this film on TV in my area and a VHS tape was difficult to find. I finally got one on E-Bay a year ago. I've always been a science fiction fan and my favorite sub-genre was parallel worlds. The original writer (Wyndham) and screenwriters got all the basics correct - certain events in the past transpired differently on this parallel Earth, resulting in a very similar, yet strikingly different world. But what caught me off guard was the romance attached to the story; I don't know, maybe the British storytellers just know how to do this sort of stuff better, but the tale taps into the soul of anyone with just a bit of the romantic in them. I never got that sense of romance, in such a strong dose, in any other film; the similar "Somewhere in Time" with Chris Reeve comes to mind, but it's not even a contest. When Joan Collins first walks into the room, I don't think you even need to be a heterosexual male - you are just swept away on the spot. Tom Bell is also very good as the hero; he sort of stumbles along on this fantastic journey he's been flung into and he soon embraces the entire cosmic appeal of what fate has given to him - a rare gift, as it turns out.
'Quest For Love' is an interesting oddity - a romance set in a parallel world. I haven't read the Wyndham story it's based on so I don't know how faithful it is, but it's an entertaining little movie with some nice performances. Tom Bell plays a physicist who suddenly finds himself in an alternate England after a scientific experiment. He learns that WW2 never happened, man never landed on the moon,etc. but the differences in this other England are never explored and mean little to plot. The focus is on Bell's relationship with Joan Collins. In his own world Bell is single and a scientist, in this other world he is a successful writer and married to Collins who despises him. Bell immediately falls in love with his "wife" and tries to convince her that he isn't who she thinks he is. Both Bell and Collins give good performances, and Collins looks absolutely lovely. Denholm Elliott appears in both worlds, one as his friend, in the other he loathes him. I assume the budget of this movie was modest. There are no special effects and it's almost like an episode of TV fantasy anthology. Even so I enjoyed it for what it was. If you want to watch a slightly earlier British movie with a similar premise try and see 'Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun' a.k.a. 'Doppelganger'. It however isn't a romance and is much bleaker. It's the stronger of the two movies but 'Quest For Love' is still worth watching, especially if you're a romantic.
An English Physicist (Tom Bell), testing an experimental nuclear accelerator, is transported across a parallel universe into a more peaceful but less technically advanced world. The staid physicist discovers that, in this world, he is a morally decadent playwright; and, more importantly, the physicist meets the woman of his dreams: his wife! (Joan Collins) The physicist immediately sets out to win back the affections of his wife; and, when he returns to our universe, to locate her again.
The performances are uniformly excellent. Joan Collins is one of the few actresses who plays "saints" and "vixens" with equal aplomb. Special kudos to Tom Bell for being convincingly "smitten" without being sappy.
Ironically, the film is least convincing in "our universe." The initial exposition is hurried, as are the closing sequences of the film. Considering the largely excellent writing (story credited to John Wyndham), the most likely explanation is a rushed shooting schedule, due to budget constraints. This is also apparent with the music, which seems to belong in a different movie.
The lack of special effects actually embellishes the story, until the physicist's "return." This occurs with no forshadowing, and seems more a plot device than an integral part of the tale. Effects would have gone a long way toward covering the holes in the story. (i.e., Why is a scientist so convinced what happened to him was real? Since HE was so different in the parallel world, why doesn't he fear SHE will be different?)
Still, with the imaginative writing and excellent performances make this worthy viewing, IF you can find it.
"Quest for love" came on local late night TV in Chicago a couple times in about 1977 and I've been looking for it ever since. Science fiction is far down the list of what I normally like but this one was special, probably because it was a relationship story that used a nearly believable SF conceit (parallel worlds) to create an absorbing dilemma. No aliens or spaceships, just an ordinary life that turns increasingly odd: a friend whose missing limb suddenly returns, a newspaper headline that says, "Kennedy elected to second term", and so on. It was intriguing for at least two reasons. One was Joan Collins, who is, well, stunning. Why anyone would cheat on her character is perhaps the film's greatest mystery. The other was that the parallel worlds idea takes a while to develop fully, and it drew me into the puzzle. I've not seen a parallel realities film since that I've liked as much. (By the way, I could swear there's a scene in "Back to the Future 2" where Doc is using a blackboard to explain this very concept to Marty, which is a lift from QFL.) In the end it's a film about a decent guy and his relationship problems; only, in his case, he's inherited them from his drunken, loutish other self.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After an explosion during an experiment, Colin Trafford, a young physicist, finds himself transported into a parallel world where he is a successful playwrite with an unhappy marriage. In this world, Kennedy wasn't assassinated, Leslie Howerd is still alive and making movies and the Vietnam war never happened. Trafford discovers that he is a philanderer and he is unable to convince his 'wife' Ottelie of the validity of his strange behaviour and amnesic tendencies. Eventually she believes him after Sir Henry Lanstein explains the whole experiment to her. There happiness is short lived however, for Ottelie then dies. The shock of her death returns Trafford to his own world, where he searches for and finds her equivalent (working as an air hostess) and saves her life. QUEST FOR LOVE is a love story masquerading as Sci-Fi soap, Joan Collins has never looked more ravishing or given a better performance. The most powerful scene in the movie is Tom Bell's explosive outburst when giving a speech at the First Night party to all the luvvies. They all think he's drunk ... but we share in his bewilderment. QUEST FOR LOVE is highly recommended viewing, any British film that has the great Sam Kydd as a cab driver cannot be missed.
Intriguing sci-fi love story about a physicist (Tom Bell) who ends up in a
parallel universe after a scientific experiment goes awry. At first, the
film is a wonderful fish-out-of-water tale as Bell slowly realizes his
predicament and reluctantly assumes the identity of his parallel
Colin Trafford (an arrogant, much-maligned playwright). However, the tale
gets even more complicated when Bell falls in love with Trafford's
flamboyantly unhappy wife Ottile (Joan Collins in a surprisingly subtle
Although the film's narrative often seems like a discarded plot from the daytime soap Dark Shadows, this is an inventive, well-written and (more importantly) splendidly acted drama. It's definitely worth a look if you happen to come across it.
What a powerful and thought-provoking movie. It was refreshing to see Joan Collins in such a different role! She plays such a sweet and gentle person! The whole idea of the movie, alternate realities, is a subject I think many people are intrigued with. I know I feel it is entirely possible - or rather, I am HOPING it is!!! Also, it was done so well, the switching back and forth between the two worlds, that it felt seamless. The intensity builds as the scientist's learns of problems he alone can remedy with this switching of realities. It's a race in time. I saw this film in the 80's. I had turned on the TV one night, very late, and it was just starting. For years now, I have been trying to find it, to watch again. It left me with such a dreamy, anything-is-possible type of feeling!
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