BRIEF ENCOUNTER – 1945 - movie - A Classic Review - directed by David Lean – written by David Lean and based upon the play “Still Life” by Noel Coward – produced by Noel Coward - players are: Laura (Celia Johnson), Alec (Trevor Howard), Albert (Stanley Holloway), Myrtle (Joyce Carey)
Wow!... This could easily become your favorite movie… look out Casablanca! The story takes place in 1938, in the London suburbs. Two bored, married, middle class people are mutually attracted. They have a deeply emotional affair of the heart that is destined to be unconsummated. This movie is a rare moment.. I don’t know who to praise most for its stunning portrayal of human longing.
David Lean, with intuitive insight, cast a woman – and I don’t mean this in a disparaging way – who looks “ordinary”. Celia Johnson is not some idealized, sultry and intriguing bit of femininity that would make men perk up and gaze upon with possessive longing. Glamorizing these two characters is precisely why the 1974 movie remake with Sophia Loren and Richard Burton was a dismal failure; after that movie’s bad reviews in New York all plans for further distribution were abandoned.
Laura: “I’m an ordinary woman… such things don’t happen to an ordinary woman…. I’ve fallen in love.” In 1981 Celia Johnson was created a Dame of the British Empire Celia Johnson. She died of a stroke, at her home near Oxford in 1982 at the age of 73. She was to have opened in a play that evening called “The
Understanding”. She was best known for the role she played in this movie. She said that early in her life she realized that she was very plain and unattractive, but she just “thought it would be nice to act”. She was married to Peter Fleming the brother of Ian Fleming… they had a son and two daughters.
The on-going success of this story is a tribute Noel Coward’s talent as a story-teller. It may have been a brief encounter but the passions it stirred up lived on in many radio theater adaptions during that era; they stared Stewart Granger, Debora Karr, Ingrid Bergman, Greer Garson, Lilli Palmer, Van Heflin, Olivia de Havilland and Richard Basehart. A new stage adaptation was created from the Coward’s original play and the movie script. This re-write is still being performed today. Coward’s script was later adapted into a well-received opera by 80 year-old Andre Previn in 2009. So, his original play “Still Life” became two movies, various radio dramas, a well-received opera and then back to the stage… quite a run.
This movie was banned in Ireland because it was sympathetic to adultery.