In war-torn London, Maurice Bendrix (Van Johnson) falls in love with neighbor Sarah Miles (Deborah Kerr). They begin an illicit romance behind Sarah’s husband’s back. While war does not last forever, neither does love in this existentialist tale.
Robert Bole <[email protected]>
User Reviews: The Hays Moral Code specifically stated "Adultery and illicit sex, sometimes necessary plot material, must not be explicitly treated or justified, or presented attractively." Still in effect at that time, this is certainly the most explicit treatment of the subject of adultery during the time of the code’s strict enforcement from 1935-1955. ("Baby Doll" released in December, 1956 goes a bit further).
While the movie should gets points for its explicit and adult treatment of the subject matter, the film does explicitly preach Catholicism which may be the reason that the theme was allowed. In the 1950’s and early 1960’s there was a Catholic anthology drama series on U.S. television which often dealt with serious issues like adultery, communism, abusive families, racism, incest, rape and abortion; issues that were almost never raised on television at the time. The show was apparently given a pass because it always ended with one character realizing the issues of his/her ways and having their soul redeemed by joining or rejoining the Catholic Church. This movie reminded me of that show.
The movie does have terrific performances by Deborah Kerr, Van Johnson, and Peter Cushing. It should be watched just for the performances. They underplay their roles beautifully and hit emotional high points in just the scenes that need them.
Graham Greene is an excellent writer and knows how to keep a plot moving and constantly surprises the audience.
One can dismiss this movie as Catholic Propaganda, but the movie is touching, thoughtful and well done. The Catholic Propaganda only mars it slightly, a small price to pay for the pleasure it brings. It is a good affair between two handsome/beautiful people, even if it ends with a bit of repentance and feelings of guilt.