The Ransomes are a couple whose marriage is falling apart. Joyce Van Patten is engaging as the wife trying to rekindle the flame with her work obsessed husband. Wilfred Hyde-White and Gladys Cooper contrast stylishly with the Ransomes as old people still in love. Alan Napier (Alfred from 1960's Batman) appears as captain of HMS Lady Anne on which all the other passengers seem to be old.
An appealingly atmospheric setting for the most romantic entry of the anthology should lure you to sail into the zone. Don't be put off, however much Wilfred Hyde-White may offer you not to board.
While the finale of this show was awfully expected, it's still a decent show for several reasons. First, while it's not exactly 'Twilight Zoney" in style, the show has a nice romantic style. It's a nice change of pace. Second, with some wonderful elderly actors, it can't help but be good. With Alan Napier, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Cecil Kellaway and Gladys Cooper, you have a nucleus of magnificent talent--and they are all charming and terrific performers.
So is this a must-see? Certainly not. But, it is worth seeing and is a worthy hour-long show.
The story ends mysteriously, as befits a TZ episode, but the message is laid out in a leisurely way for its 55 minutes. Van Patten and Philips have been married a few years abut the relationship has grown shaky because of a familiar problem. Philips is drowning in his work, constantly anxious to get on with things, always busy, consulting his pocket watch. Van Patten is neglected and feels unloved: "We never get together, we never talk, we never --". No room for sentiment let alone sex.
HMS Lady Anne herself is an old ship, manned by an old crew and carrying old passengers. Okay, the ship takes thirteen days to reach Le Havre, but so what? The old folks, mostly couples, take the slow boat to London each year to reminisce about the old days and to celebrate the present in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. And what atmosphere! Cluttered and old-fashioned, with beaded curtains around the four poster bed, Victorian lamps, bronze figurines, formal portraits of British nobility on the bulkheads, and an abundance of ferns. As a matter of fact it looks rather like my place, which I've done my best to turn into a replica of an Egyptian cat house, ca. 1910.
That message I referred to? That's Philips finally observing how happy these oldsters are, taking their time, savoring the years they have left, and he absorbs the lesson. Stop pushing so much. He throws his pocket watch and its demands out of the porthole. His steely scowl is replaced by a smile. And both of them, now happy, become physical again.
The climactic scene is mysterious enough, I suppose, but the mystery is more of a puzzle than anything else. It sits uncomfortably on the rest of the story. And there are holes in the logic. What happened to the Lady Anne, for instance? It disappears without trace and without notice in the news. But how can that be? They bought their tickets from a real, live travel agent. Someone must have noticed that a passenger liner disappeared at sea? And why does the ship turn north? And how can Philips tell? If they were sailing due north, the sun would be directly astern only around noon. And why are all the other passengers over seventy years old? But none of that really matters too much. It's a leisurely story, unhurried and as relaxed as life aboard the ship itself. Except, I guess, for the crew. Somebody has to peel the potatoes and tend bar.
These hour-long entries often had to pad to fill out the time slot. That's the case here for some of the conversations. Nonetheless, the premise keeps up interest as viewers try to guess where the Lady Anne is going and what the deal is with all the elderly passengers politely discouraging the youngsters from going along. It's also a good chance to catch a number of Hollywood's elegant oldsters on the same screen. But, it's really Van Patten who shines by going through a number of nicely shaded emotional stages. The upshot seems a little abrupt, but is, I guess, apt for the subject matter. All in all, it's a fairly suspenseful episode without being memorable.