The Passionate Friends were in love when young, but separated, and she married an older man. Then Mary Justin (Ann Todd) meets Steven Stratton (Trevor Howard) again and they have one last fling together in the Alps. —David Wark <email@example.com>
One of the Greatest British Classics, Superior to 'Brief Encounter'
This film is one of the highest peaks of David Lean's achievement as a director, and possibly it owes something to the fact that he married its star Ann Todd in the same year, which may have helped him elicit her supernaturally radiant performance. Four years earlier, Lean had made 'Brief Encounter', but this film, again with Trevor Howard as the romantic male lead, far exceeds the earlier work in subtlety and genius. Every frame is lovingly composed, and the film is a cinematic masterpiece which can stand beside any Visconti work for comparison. Three future directors worked on the film: Ronnie Neame as producer, Guy Green as Cinematographer, Clive Donner as an editor. There were three editors, and whoever was responsible for it, the final editing is a work of the highest genius. The cinematography by Guy Green and camera operating by Ossie Morris are as good as they get. Everything combined to make this film a triumph and a true work of art. The three stars, Trevor Howard, Ann Todd, and Claude Rains, all excel themselves as they enact this intimate study of a love trio, as if we were standing invisibly beside them and could see it happening, without their being aware of our presence. The tale is drawn from a novel by H. G. Wells. The novel was made into a silent film in 1922 by the famous British director, Maurice Elvey, but it is doubtful that a print of it survives, and I have never heard of anyone who ever saw it. Eric Ambler wrote the screenplay for the Lean version, with immense subtlety. The only one of the three main characters who does not have a major character flaw is Trevor Howard, who is the unfortunate emotional victim of the other two. Ann Todd's character flaw is like an invisible crack in a Ming vase: you can't see it, but the value is immeasurably lowered, as she keeps trying to warn Howard, who cannot believe it: 'My love is not worth much,' she says, and he does not hear her. She has running through her the most abject streak of cowardice, nearly impossible to detect except in extremis, but which reduces her to the status of what one would find for sale at a discount in a cracked china shop. (There used to be such a shop in the King's Road in Chelsea.) Ann Todd shines and is deeply loving and 'true', but repeatedly collapses at the crucial moment and betrays herself every time. This film should really be shown to psychology students (that is, if they could stop studying rats and take an interest in humans). Claude Rains's character flaw is a total denial of love and feeling, as he is convinced he can live without them, that they are unnecessary indulgence. Well, you can imagine the complications. Or perhaps you can't. Better to see the film. In fact, everyone should see this film who has any sensitivity, while those without sensitivity should avoid it, as they will not understand a single thing. What is evanescent is invisible to those with dull inner sight. Psychologically speaking, we have here the intricate elucidation of an invisible character flaw in a woman who appears perfectly normal, warm, glowing, and delightful. Ann Todd's performance is perfectly judged, as it is the very invisibility of her flaw that provides the emotional shock value for the film, and its importance as a lesson to us in human imperfections.
- Dec 17, 2008
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By what name was The Passionate Friends (1949) officially released in Canada in English?Answer