#77 The Big Sleep

Watched: January 22 2017

Director: Howard Hawks

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers

Year: 1946

Runtime: 1h 54min

big sleep.jpg

Source

Philip Marlowe is back, this time portrayed by (the not very tall, but oh so charming) Humphrey Bogart. Entering the Sternwood residence for an appointment with General Sternwood, he is immediately met by a Dame in the making – young miss Carmen Sternwood (Vickers), who tries to sit on his lap while he is still standing.

big-sleep2
Despite Carmen’s best efforts, General Sternwood is the first member of the family to have our hero undress

Source

Carmen has gambling debts and her father, the General, is being blackmailed by a man named Geiger. He hires Marlowe to clear everything up, and on his way out, the detective is summoned to the chambers of the older Sternwood daughter, Mrs Vivian Rutledge (Bacall), who is very interested in what exactly Marlowe has been hired to do. The two start measuring each other up (both figuratively and literally) and exchange quips.

big-sleep
“She has all the usual vices, besides those she’s invented for herself”

Source

Marlowe starts his investigation in the usual way which comes complete with diagrams on page 47 of how to be a detective in 10 easy lessons correspondent school textbook. That is, he starts snooping around Geiger’s bookshop which he quickly discovers is a front for something else, although he strikes out with the lady working there. He has better luck with the saucy bookseller from across the street, and spends his afternoon with her sharing a drink.

big-sleep3
Yet another great example of how removing glasses and letting one’s hair down transforms a “plain,” bookish girl into an absolute stunner.

Source

Marlowe follows Geiger and stakes out his house. After a shot and a scream, he enters to find Geiger dead, a hidden camera, and a very drugged out Carmen in a near catatonic state. He takes the girl home, exchanges more banter with her older sister, and returns to the crime scene only to find dead Mr Geiger gone. The plot is very much thickening.

the_big_sleep
Also thickening is the sexual tension between the two stars

Source

To sort out this mess, Marlowe and Rutledge (who’s divorced, by the way, so their relationship is completely on the up-and-up) have to work together. There are more dead bodies, more blackmail, more Dames and other cool women (such as Marlowe’s taxi driver), shady characters, quips and banter, silly henchmen, a fairly complicated plot (but great scenes, so it doesn’t really matter), and Humphrey Bogart being supercool.

big-sleep4
This is a man completely unaffected by having a gun pointed at him. Though Bacall doesn’t seem too perturbed either, to give her her due.

Source

There are beautiful clothes, sassy dialogue, and amazing characters portrayed by iconic stars. There’s also murder, intrigue, loose sexual morals, and an infamous restaurant scene we have no idea how got past the censors. It’s a classic for a reason and if you haven’t already checked this one out, you should! We loved it.

big-sleep5
Serious question though: how extremely innocent do you have to be not to read the subtext of this scene?

Source

What we learned: men in the 1940s were physically unable to see past a pair of glasses on a pretty girl. Also, sometimes personal chemistry works equally well on screen as in real life.

Next time: The Killers (1946)

#76 Notorious

Watched: January 15 2017

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Starring: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains

Year: 1946

Runtime: 1h 41min

notorious.jpg

Source

Alicia Huberman’s (Bergman) father is convicted of treason and his daughter naturally throws a party with ice and Cary Grant. As would we if Grant were available. However, she throws in a DUI for good measure, which we would not. After the drunken drive, it turns out that Devlin (Grant) is some sort of government agent and he has a job for the former party girl. After a gruesome hangover (wonderfully filmed, by the way) the two fly to Brazil to start her assignment.

notorious-2
“So, what exactly is this assignment?” “Well, we shall fall in love and then I shall ask you to prostitute yourself. You know, for patriotism. USA! USA!”

Source

The two fall in love and then the orders come through. In Devlin’s defence, he was not aware of the exact nature of his new love interest’s upcoming job before recruiting her, but he does not exactly help her out once the government asks Alicia to put the moves on an old friend of her father’s who used to be in love with her. Instead, he encourages her to use all her “womanly viles” to get the information they need from former German Nazi leader Alex Sebastian (Rains – no longer invisible).

notorious-3
“Yes, my good Nazi friend, of course I’d rather marry you than have a sultry affair with Cary Grant. Isn’t my enthusiasm evident?”

Source

The reason Alicia is recruited is partly because of her previous relationship with the subject of their investigation, but it is just as much due to her former reputation as a sexually active, hard drinking socialite. While Alicia herself feels she is over this period of her life, her past is enough to condemn her in the eyes of the government agents who pressure her into taking on the assignment. She is even persuaded to go so far as to marry Alex.

notorious-4
Marrying another man puts yet another strain on their relationship for some reason

Source

Further complications ensue when, after an intense espionage scene during a party, Alex and his evil mother realise that their new family member is in fact a spy. They start poisoning her, but pride and pent up anger towards her handler Devlin stops her from being upfront with him about her condition, instead blaming her reduced state during their next meeting on a hangover. How will the lovers get out of this pickle?

notorious-5
We strongly suspect that the filmmaker is trying to tell us that something may be wrong about the coffee.

Source

This Hitchcock classic is every bit as tense and chilling as you would expect, and the character of Alicia is someone it is easy to sympathise with. She just wants to be treated like a person and make a new life for herself, but all the men see her as a thing – less than proper because of her past (sexual) frivolity and her family. Even her new beau falls into that trap, although to give him his due he does defend her to his colleagues. He just cannot seem to do this to her face.

notorious-6
He has no problem doing other things to her face though

Source

Although Alicia, played beautifully by Swedish icon Bergman by the way, is through with her rebellious and flirtatious past, that’s all men want from her and that is all they see. So she obliges. It is interesting that even though Hitchcock has a reputation for having been a dick to women, his female characters are usually very sympathetic and strong. However, they are always put through hell, and they are usually made weak by feelings of love, which may be symptoms of misogyny in itself. Or the stories of his hatred for women may be somewhat exaggerated. Who are we to tell?

notorious-7
Instead, let’s focus on the story of two ridiculously gorgeous people falling in love and overcoming personal, international, and political obstacles to be together. Yay!

Source

What we learned: Once you’ve lived up to a certain persona, people won’t let you forget it and move on. Also, if you’re going to infiltrate an enemy organisation, you need nerves of steel (and don’t make stupid key mistakes).

Next time: The Big Sleep (1946)

#75 La Belle et La Bête/Beauty and the Beast

Watched: January 8 2017

Director: Jean Cocteau

Starring: Josette Day, Jean Marais

Year: 1946

Runtime: 1h 36min

beauty1.jpg

Source

Belle (Day), the beautiful young daughter of a merchant, is being Cinderella’d by her rooty tooty snooty sisters after their family’s fortune was lost at sea. As her father gets word of one of his ships having reached port safely, he travels to the city to regain some of his fortune, only to find it has all been seized in payment of his debts. Returning home through a scary forest in a storm, he seeks shelter in a castle which seems abandoned yet has a marvelous feast set out for him.

beauty3
There’s nothing at all sinister or creepy about the place

Source

He spends the night in the castle and, when leaving the next morning, picks a rose for his daughter as that was her only request for a present. Big mistake. A frightful Beast (Marais) sets upon him and tells him he must die for this offence. The merchant manages to make a deal to go home home to see his family if he promises to return promptly or send a family member in his place. Belle, being the good daughter, offers to go to the castle instead of her ailing father.

beauty4
The pretty dresses and jewellry sort of make up for the creepy living statues and ornaments of her new home.

Source

Instead of finding a primitive beast ready to devour her, Belle meets a gentlemanly one who proclaims her mistress of the castle and himself her humble servant. She stays with him for months, and though every night she refuses his marriage proposal, they develop a friendship and companionship which is quite mutual, despite him looking like he’s always on the verge of reciting Shakespearean soliloquies. Case in point:

beauty5
We’d like to think his tendency to lurk behind her is more a kindness so that she won’t have to look at him, rather than something sinister. Despite the neverending marriage proposals.

Source

After a while, Belle finds out that her father is grievously ill and asks to go home to see him. The Beast agrees on the condition that she returns one week later, and gives her a magic mirror to see him, his glove which will return her to the castle whenever she’d like and, for some reason, the key to his fortune.

beauty6
“I’m sure there’s no way anyone would abuse that power”

Source

Of course, Belle’s cunty sisters, her idiot brother and his friend Gaston, uh, we mean, Avenant (also played by Marais), persuade her to stay on a bit longer, steal her key and decide to go kill the Beast and steal his fortune. However, Belle sees the Beast half dead from grief in her magic mirror and uses the magic glove to return to him at the same time her brother and Avenant arrive to dispose of him. There are declarations of love, the Beast transforms to his true princely form and all live happily ever after. Except for the intruders, one of whom is himself transformed (to take the Beast’s place as guardian of the castle? Of the afterlife? Of purgatory? Who knows?), but that’s their own fault.

beauty7
“Them bitches had it coming, trying to interfere with our strange and possibly Stockholm syndrome-induced romance!”

Source

Cocteau’s version is a very faithful adaptation of the traditional French fairy tale despite him, naturally, having taken some artistic licenses. Visually, this film is wonderful with amazing details, especially in the enchanted castle which is like Barbie’s Gothic Dream House – creepy but luxurious. The disembodied arms which act like servants and the half-living statues that adorn the halls and rooms are fantastic (in all senses of the word) and add an extra layer of surrealism and magic to the film. The costumes are extravagant, if not necessarily always flattering, and the beast is superbly made up.

beauty8
The food even looks appealing in black and white, which is impressive in itself

Source

If your only cinematic experience of Beauty and the Beast is the 1991 Disney version, we really recommend this one as well, as it is a very different perspective on the same story.

What we learned: women must learn to look beyond physical appearance, but the same is not necessary for men. Also, don’t trust your relatives – them bitches be greedy!

Next time: Notorious (1946)

#74 A Matter of Life and Death

Watched: January 15 2017

Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

Starring: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Raymond Massey, Marius Goring

Year: 1946

Runtime: 1h 44min

a-matter
Also known by its alternate title

Source

As Peter Carter (Niven) is plunging towards certain death in a shot up plane May 1945, his final moments are shared with radio operator June (Hunter) and the two, as people are wont to do in these intense situations, fall in love. He ejects from the burning aircraft without a parachute and is surprised to find himself alive on shore some moments later. Surely, the fall should have killed him?

a-matter3
How much imagery of nudity, flutes and goats do you need to convince yourself you’ve reached hell?

Source

Turns out, it should have. Up on the celestial plane, the clerics are confused about the lateness of his arrival until they find that his Conductor, a very camp Frenchman (Goring), lost the pilot in the fog and thus neglected to collect his soul.

a-matter-5
“Bonjour! Je suis le campest Frenchman you’ll ever meet. Bon bon, mon petit fromage!”

Source

Unfortunately for the clerics of the afterlife, in the few hours of “extra” life Peter got, he met and fell in love with June which greatly complicates things. As he is not at fault here, is it fair to take him away just as he has found the love of his life? Since it was their mix up that caused this to happen, the celestial beings grant Peter a trial with his life at stake.

a-matter-4
Celestial trials have the most impressive courtrooms

Source

Meanwhile, in our own world, June has enlisted the help of a doctor friend of hers, Dr Reeves (Livesey, of Colonel Blimp-fame), as her new love is suffering headaches and possible hallucinations after jumping from a plane without a parachute… Naturally, the medical professional diagnoses Peter with head trauma and recommends surgery, to coincide with the patient’s heavenly trial.

a-matter6
Which leads to some beautiful shots!

Source

This was a beautiful and engaging film which we completely loved. The relationship between Peter and June is lovely, although a bit hasty. She’s either very wonderful or very naïve to stick by him when he starts talking crazy after they’ve known each other for all of a day. The trial becomes very political, and much of the criticism against England from the USA could have been modern criticism against the US, which is very interesting to observe (especially given the newly instated president..). It’s like both countries have a history of proclaiming themselves above others and trying to impose their rules on other nations…

The sets are beautiful and impressive, especially on the other plane.

a-matter7
Such as the stairway, or escalator, to heaven, for instance

Source

In a way, this film is like an opposite Wizard of Oz, as our world is in glorious technicolor while the other world is in drab black and white. Then again, our world is supposed to be the desirable one so it makes sense. A Matter of Life and Death has humour, excitement, adventure, romance, political undertones, history lessons, camp Frenchmen and gorgeous shoes! What’s not to love?

a-matter8
A film so good it has its own stamp!

Source

What we learned: make sure you have a law degree before cheating death. Also, we have found the winners of the mannequin challenge of 1946!

Next time: La Belle et la Bête/Beauty and the Beast (1946)

PS: confused about the numbering on this? Check out this disclaimer!

#37b (or something) The Thin Man

Watched: January 16 2017

Director: W.S. Van Dyke

Starring: William Powell, Myrna Loy

Year: 1934

Runtime: 1h 31min

Disclaimer: This film was added at 37th place (chronologically) after we had already reached (the old) no. 71 (now no. 73) and as such we throw it in here. The next post will be #74 but that does not mean we’ve skipped #72 and #73. Confused? Read this disclaimer. We’re sure it’ll explain everything.

thin-man

Source

We’re so glad this one made the list! Sister the Oldest has seen this one before and loved it then as she loves it now. It’s a boozy adventure of the best kind, with wonderful characters and banter.

Nick Charles (Powell) is a retired private detective, enjoying a life of leisure, and copious amounts of cocktails, with his charming and charmingly rich wife, Nora (Loy), and their terrier, Asta.

thin-man2
“These are just my breakfast drinks!”

Source

An old acquaintance, Dorothy Wynant, approaches the former detective as she suspects her father is in trouble, but Nick refuses to take the case, on account of the retirement and all. However, soon after, Mr Wynant’s secretary is killed and the plot thickens considerably when Dorothy’s father, who’s missing, becomes the chief suspect. Nick, egged on by Nora who thinks all this detective business terribly exciting, takes time between cocktails to look into the matter.

THIN MAN, THE
Clink!

Source

The Thin Man is one of the funnest, booziest mystery comedies you’ll ever see. There are eccentric characters, dysfunctional families and lots and lots of drinks. The quick banter between Nick and Nora is magical, and their relationship is something to aspire to (in its own way). In addition, Nora has the best fashion sense, and the the dog is adorable. This film should be everyone’s traditional Christmas viewing, along with Gremlins and Die Hard, of course. Enjoy!

thin-man3
True love!

Source

What we learned: We need to purchase lots of stripy chiffon. Also, do NOT make this film into a drinking game where you try to keep up with Nick…

Next time: A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

Disclaimer About Numbering

Since Edgar Wright’s list (though magical) is in flux and he is constantly adding and removing films as he finds new favourites, our numbering system is subject to change.

Recently, two films have been added that throw off the system with which we have so far worked (as well as some other additions which do not affect our posts so far and thus we shall completely ignore them for now). When this happens, we will post the recent additions as soon as we can, with their proper numbers, and continue on using the current number of the films as we watch them. Or something. Honestly, we haven’t really worked it out yet, but we’re sure we will in time.

Until we have a clear system, should you come across two films which are both at number 37 and none that are at number 72, it is just because we’re too lazy to go back and change all the numbers and we’re always working with the list as it is on the day of posting.

This also means that you will get BONUS POSTS! Yay! Any film which is removed from the official list after we’ve already posted it will of course stay up, and any film which is removed after we’ve already purchased the DVD, will still get a blog entry. Because we would have spent money on that and by God people will see it! (Also, any film deemed worthy of being on the list at some point is definitely worthy of watching) Our guess is that we’ll end up with something more like 1500 films by the time it’s over.

Our sincere thanks to Mr Wright himself for alerting us to the recent changes, and to everyone who reads our musings. We appreciate you all.

#71 The Lost Weekend

Watched: December 19 2016

Director: Billy Wilder

Starring: Ray Milland, Jane Wyman, Phillip Terry, Howard Da Silva, Doris Dowling

Year: 1945

Runtime: 1h 37min

lost

Source

The Lost Weekend is a classic tale of an alcoholic writer who is struggling to create his masterpiece while keeping the severity of his habit from his girl and his brother.

Don Birnam (Milland) is packing for a weekend away with his brother Wick (Terry) and is desperately trying to find an opportunity to smuggle some whiskey into his luggage, as his brother is not exactly impressed by his alcohol consumption.

lost2
His bartender isn’t particularly impressed either

Source

After failing to bring with him his hidden whiskey, Birnam decides to stay in the city and get drunk rather than join his brother for a sober weekend in the country. Like a true addict, he’ll do anything to get a fix, and while he’s funny in his quest for a drink, it is also incredibly sad to watch a talented and generally good man go down this road of self destruction.

lostweekend
It’s almost as if someone is trying to say that his life is ruled by drink

Source

The four day weekend (such luxury!) includes, but is not limited to, him hurting his long suffering girlfriend Helen (Wyman), flirting with (and also hurting) fellow barfly Gloria (Dowling, who’s incredibly hip with the lingo!), trying to pawn his precious type writer, ending up in the alcoholic ward of a hospital, ditching church to rob a liquor store instead (it’s a choice), and finally succumbing to delirium and depression.

lost3
Like Mina, he is also attacked by bats, but that’s a whole other story

Source

The Lost Weekend is based on a (fairly autobiographical) novel by Charles Jackson, which we have not read, but definitely should. It is a powerful and realistic story which does not shy too far away from the horrifying truth of substance abuse. When younger, we may have seen the character of the young alcoholic writer as romantic, but we are far older and wiser than we once were (but not, you know, too old. Just charmingly so. And very wise.) and we now see the tragedy of it all. In the end, the talented but dried-up (in some sense of the phrase, at least) artist is saved by love and purpose, although how long it will last we will never know. Unless we dig into the life of Charles Jackson, we suppose.

lost4
In a way he is also, somewhat ironically, saved by his bartender.

Source

Milland won a well-deserved Oscar for his portrayal of Birnam, and the film was also awarded Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing in 1946. If that’s not enough incentive for you to watch this classic, there’s really nothing more we can say.

What we learned: alcohol may help creativity but it will stop you actually realising your ideas.

Next time: The Thin Man (1934) – new addition to the list

#70 Detour

Watched: January 08 2017

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer

Starring: Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake, Edmund MacDonald

Year: 1945

Runtime: 1h 7min

detour_1945

Source

Al Roberts (Neal) is in a diner, irritable and not very sociable. What has happened? He tells his story to the viewer – and it is not a happy tale.

detour-1945-tom-neal1
“Happy? How can anyone be happy? There is no happiness, only darkness and sadness” – Roberts, probably

Source

Roberts is a pianist in a nightclub where his best gal Sue (Drake) is also employed as a singer. Walking home from work one night, through the (extreme) fog and darkness, she tells him that she’s planning on seeking her fortune in Hollywood. Roberts is not happy about it, though to be fair, he wasn’t exactly a ball of sunshine before she broke the news either.

detour-tom-neal-and-claudia-drake
This may be the only time he smiles throughout the entire 67 minutes.

Source

After she moves, he decides to hitchhike from New York to Los Angeles to see her, and it’s all downhill from there. He considers himself lucky when he gets a ride from rich (and misogynistic) Charles Haskell, Jr (MacDonald), but he could not be more wrong. After Haskell unexpectedly dies, Roberts makes a horrible decision to bury the body and pose as the dead man to stay out of trouble. Already here, we can see where this is going, but not just how bad it’s going to get.

detour
It never gets really bad until you bring a Dame into it…

Source

Enter Vera (Savage), a bona fide Dame with all the credentials, including previously fighting off the advances of the now deceased real owner of the car. His new angry and disillusioned passenger leads Roberts to make even more terrible decisions than the ones he’s already made, and they keep spiralling towards inevitable doom.

detour2
Who knew a young woman in a lace knit sweater could be so vicious!

Source

Now, Roberts is made out to be the victim in this film, and in a way he is. However, he is also the one telling the story and as such there’s a chance his narration is a bit on the unreliable side. Perhaps Haskell’s death (and any subsequent ones) weren’t as accidental as he claims, and his decision to rob the dead man may not have been as spontaneous as we are led to believe. Either way, his life is forever altered and his plans are not to be. Poor Sue.

detour3
Seems guys (with big instruments) are already lining up to take Roberts’ place, though. We’re sure she’ll be fine. After all, it’s not like young, attractive women have ever been mistreated in Hollywood.

Source

What we learned: Film Noir-narration is the best narration. Also, if someone (accidentally) dies in your presence, just go to the police and fess up at once.

Next time: The Lost Weekend (1945)

#69 Dead of Night

Watched: December 18 2016

Director: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer

Starring: Mervyn Johns, Roland Culver, Mary Merrall, Googie Withers, Frederick Valk, Anthony Baird, Sally Ann Howes, Michael Redgrave, Basil Radford

Year: 1945

Runtime: 1h 43min

dead_of_night_poster_02

Source

Dead of Night is the first of the horror anthology films on the list, and a good start to this scary and brilliant subgenre.

Architect Walter Craig (Johns) comes to look at a house he has been approached to alter or expand, and experiences a very strong case of déjà vu. It turns out he has had recurring dreams about the house and all the people who are currently there, but he cannot recall the ending of the dream, just that it is not a happy one.

dead
What horrible fate could possibly befall these respectable looking people? Stay tuned to find out!

Source

As Craig is trying to remember the details of his dream, the other guests take turns telling of their own experiences with the supernatural or uncanny. You know, to lighten the mood. The stories vary in length and seriousness, but some of them are very unsettling indeed.

dead2
Ventriloquist-centred plots will always creep us out

Source

Among the guests’ tales we find a creepy ghost story involving children and murder (always a good combination) as well as a game of Sardines; a race car driver who’s saved from certain (?) death several times by the appearance of a strange man; a scary haunted mirror (a subject which we always find unnerving – childhood literature trauma might be to blame); a silly, silly ghost story involving two very competitive (and self-centered) golfers and the girl they’re both in love with (who by the way has no personality of her own and somehow agrees to marry whoever wins a golf game… Have some self respect, lady!); as well as the aforementioned ventriloquist tale starring Michael Redgrave of The Lady Vanishes-fame.

dead3
Other nightmare fuel is also available for those not particularly freaked out by dummies

Source

Four different directors helmed the various segments, and they vary a lot in tone and style, with Cavalcanti’s two segments our personal favourites. We’re both partial to horror anthologies, and we cannot wait for the upcoming ones, such as #230 Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1965), #359 Asylum (1972), #367 Tales From the Crypt (1972), #553 Creepshow (1982) and #582 Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) to name but a few (numbers are liable to change as Mr Wright tends to alter his list now and then..). If you’re one of us (one of us!) we heartily recommend Dead of Night. Its circular plot is interesting, there are great performances, some good comic relief and it is genuinely scary at times. And we do eventually find out the ending of Craig’s nightmare… A new favourite for sure.

dead4
Just make sure you NEVER buy an antique mirror. Trust us.

Source

What we learned: stay the fuck away from ventriloquist dummies! (Unless it’s the one from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who’s quite naughty but not really evil.)

Next time: Detour (1945)

#68 Brief Encounter

Watched: January 1 2017

Director: David Lean

Starring: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Cyril Raymond

Year: 1945

Runtime: 1h 26min

brief-encounter_2589284b

Source

Brief Encounter is David Lean’s film version of a Noël Coward play, and it is beautiful.

Laura Jesson (Johnson) and Dr Alec Harvey (Howard) are sitting in a station café when they are steamrolled by a whirlwind known as Dolly. She blabbers on, completely oblivious to the fact that she has clearly interrupted something very special and important.

brief
“I can’t believe you let her hijack us like this!”

Source

Dr Harvey leaves and Laura goes home to her husband (Raymond) and tries to process what has happened through internal dialogue and flashbacks, as a story told, but not told, to her husband.

brief-2
She probably could have just told him the whole story for all the attention he pays

Source

Alec and Laura met by chance in the station café some weeks prior to the opening scene. They then keep running into each other until they start to plan their meetings and eventually admit to falling in love with each other. They start a (unfulfilled) romance which changes at least her perception of her life and identity.

brief3
Shared ridicule of unfortunate musicians is always a turn-on

Source

Their relationship is doomed from the start as they both have families (who they seem to love as well) and are too proper and middle class to divorce or even “properly” cheat on their partners. The story is told from her perspective, and parts of it reminds us of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (though that may be because we’re Norwegian and prone to finding Ibsen-parallels in everything). She is stuck in a too small life and Alec is as much the catalyst for her “awakening” as anything else. When she imagines their life together, she does not see him as a replacement for her husband – their life will be one filled with travel and adventure, not the mundane and routine based life she’s currently leading.

brief-encounter-4
There will be no sitting around while Dr Harvey reads the paper! No sirree!

Source

Of course, therein lies the appeal of “brief encounters” – the routine of day to day life never has a chance to ruin the perfect romance. Laura and Alec’s dalliance does not go on far enough for us, or the characters, to know whether their relationship would be better in the long run than the ones they are too “proper” to escape. In fact, in the end it seems Laura’s husband understands her better than she thinks, and there may be some hope there after all. However, she is still stuck in the same routine, with only the memory of romance to keep her going.

NINTCHDBPICT000000166944
Despite the inherent betrayal of their actions, it really is a rather sweet and innocent romance between two somewhat alienated people

Source

We loved this film. The story is well told from Laura’s perspective, and the need for something “real” to happen in her life is very clear. It is also beautifully shot, especially everything involving trains, from the first shot of the speeding train scored by Rachmaninoff to the gorgeous shot of Laura reflected in the train window while dreaming of an alternate life. The last moments of her “vertigo” and suicidal impulse upon Alec leaving for the last time are both disturbing and wonderful.

brief_laura

Source

What we learned: a romance doesn’t have to be epic and earth shattering to be life changing for those involved.

Next time: Dead of Night (1945)