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In post-WW2 Britain, a young woman marries an old flame but after he disappears, and is later declared dead, she re-marries, only to be blackmailed by the supposedly-dead first husband who suddenly re-appears in her life, in need of money.
A small time thief is recruited by a mobster to help with the racketeering. He doesn't like the job, but with the mob on his back, a femme fatale in his bed and a sick friend to care for, he will have to keep all his wits about him.
Amy and Jim Preston have been married for twenty years but, in her husband's eyes, she has become sloppy both about the house and herself. Jim has no problems with falling in love with Georgie Harlow, a fellow-office worker who is pretty and young, and willing. Jim finally asks Amy for a divorce so he can marry Georgie, and Amy pleads for him to stay, but he walks out. He soon realizes that he can't go through with the desertion of Amy and their teenage son, Brian, and returns home.Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Behind this unassuming title is a simple premise. It is the story of a man who, having become weary of his domestic life after twenty years of marriage, is tempted to walk out and begin a new relationship with his beautiful young secretary whom he has fallen in love with.
Such a scenario is a familiar one now, having been played out in many a television soap opera, but back in the 1950s when this film was made, extra-marital affairs and divorce carried much more of a stigma than is the case nowadays, and so one might think that this production carries little impact. That is far from the case, however, as this film relies not on sensational plot twists but instead concentrates on the effects that the situation has on the main protagonists. And in doing that it succeeds superbly in conveying the raw emotions of each character.
Anthony Quayle is the man torn between his status as a family man and the promise of an exciting and passionate new life with a beautiful woman who loves him. Quayle could play tough villains well but here he is exemplary playing the weak man, an individual swept along by circumstances rather than by having the drive to make him master of his own destiny. The two different lives he must choose between are personified by the different names each woman calls him: to his long-standing wife he is 'Jimbo', to his secretary he is 'Preston' (his surname). Yet Jim is never presented as a sly, scheming womaniser, only as a good man without the inner strength to be something better.
Sylvia Syms (who would become one of Quayle's co-stars in Ice Cold In Alex the following year) is 'the other woman', the secretary Georgie. The character's background is largely unexplored but we learn enough of her to know that her love for Jim is sincere and that she is not vindictive or manipulative.
But stealing the show is Yvonne Mitchell in a superlative performance as eponymous Amy, Jim's wife. Even after twenty years of marriage Amy is loving and devoted, but she is hapless, disorganised and a little overbearing. Her blind devotion means that she hasn't noticed her husband growing bored with their life, except perhaps on a subconscious level for when the bombshell is dropped, she immediately guesses the reason behind it. The reactions of Amy are varied, not always expected, but wholly convincing and touching. Much of the credit for that must also go to Ted Willis who wrote the screenplay, crafting rich dialogue that skillfully avoids all the hackneyed old cliches that this subject matter often serves up.
J Lee Thompson's direction is considered. He generally keeps the piece tight and close up to maximise the conveyance of feeling, the shots are well composed and occasionally imaginative, and scenes are lit most effectively.
So, does Jim leave Amy or end up staying with her? I won't spoil the outcome here, although the real joy is the getting there and in following a conflict where all three participants are good hearted and evoke sympathy. To pull that off so well is no mean feat.
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