Philip Sutherland (Gable) is a reporter who has been working in Soviet Russia since World War II. He's fluent in Russian and marries a beautiful ballerina, Marya (Tierney). When Sutherland displeases the Soviet authorities, he's ordered to leave the country, but Marya is prevented from boarding the plane with her husband despite her approved visa.
Sutherland and his acquaintance Chris (Richard Haydn), who also married a Russian woman (Anna Valentina) who was refused permission to leave the country, hatch a crazy plan to sail a boat from England to a Russian seaside resort and rescue their wives from behind the Iron Curtain. With the aid of a Moscow-based radio broadcaster (Kenneth More) who passes messages to the wives and the help of master seaman Joe Brooks (Bernard Miles), the plan just might work, and Philip, Chris, and Joe set sail from Cornwall.
I'd wanted to see this film for some time, as I love the lead actors and also have an interest in films with a Cold War setting. I was thus very happy that Turner Classic Movies showed it today as part of Gene Tierney's day during Summer Under the Stars.
It's not a great film and I suspect there are aspects of the story which a critic could pick apart -- plus a vodka-drinking scene near the end goes on too long -- but I have to say I enjoyed it very much. I went into the film willing to suspend disbelief and buy into the storyline, and when the film ended I was happy to have seen Gable and Tierney in a touching and fairly exciting romantic story.
It may be somewhat difficult for modern audiences to understand the way people were trapped in countries like the Soviet Union and East Germany. I think the film has some historical value as an illustration of the difficulty of living under oppressive Communist rule.
The film called to mind COMRADE X (1940), another film in which Gable played an American newsman in Moscow. Gable was a dozen years older in NEVER LET ME GO, but he still has the Gable magic and it's very believable he would sweep a beautiful young ballerina off her feet.
Gene Tierney had previously played a Russian woman escaping the Soviets in THE IRON CURTAIN (1948), in which she and husband Dana Andrews attempt to defect while stationed in Canada. She's sweet in this as the somewhat naive, loving bride who steadfastly believes that her man will find a way to rescue her.
The cast also includes Theodore Bikel, plus ice skater Belita as a jealous ballerina.
NEVER LET ME GO was directed by Delmer Daves, director of excellent films such as THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU (1944) and PRIDE OF THE MARINES (1945). The film runs 94 minutes.
NEVER LET ME GO is not available on video or DVD. It was shown on Turner Classic Movies, which has the trailer available here.
March 2013 Update: NEVER LET ME GO is now available in a remastered print from the Warner Archive.