Monday, September 08, 2008

Tonight's Movie: I'll Never Forget You (1951)

I'LL NEVER FORGET YOU, a 1951 time travel fantasy starring Tyrone Power and Ann Blyth, has been difficult to see for many years due to copyright issues. Happily, the legalities were cleared up so that the film could be included in the newly released Tyrone Power Matinee Idol Collection.

The film, also known as THE HOUSE IN THE SQUARE, is a remake of 1933's BERKELEY SQUARE, which starred Leslie Howard and Heather Angel. The movie also rather foreshadows 1980's romantic fantasy SOMEWHERE IN TIME.

Tyrone Power -- whose shortened hair reflects the fact he had just completed a West End run in MISTER ROBERTS -- plays Peter Standish, an American nuclear physicist living in a London mansion once owned by his ancestors. Peter explains to his baffled colleague Roger (Michael Rennie) that he believes he will soon be going back in time to the 1700s. Almost immediately, Peter is transported back in time, as the screen changes from black and white to Technicolor.

Peter finds life in the 1700s isn't at all what he expected...and he especially wasn't expecting to meet sweet Helen (Ann Blyth), whose name wasn't in his ancestor's diaries or letters. Peter and Helen fall in love, but it's apparent early on that Peter won't be able to remain in the 1700s. Will Peter and Helen's love be able to bridge the span of two centuries?

This unusual, haunting film is quite engrossing and builds to a moving ending, although I felt the story needed to go one step further than it did to provide a completely satisfying resolution. That said, the last 15 or 20 minutes are quite powerful, and I don't mind sharing that it caused me to tear up a bit.

Tyrone Power has always been one of my favorite actors, and this film proves no exception. Ann Blyth is lovely and quite touching as Helen, confident that some way, some time, she and Peter will be together forever.

The supporting cast includes Beatrice Campbell, Kathleen Byron, Dennis Price and Irene Browne.

I'LL NEVER FORGET YOU was directed by Roy Baker. The score was composed by William Alwyn. The film runs 90 minutes.

A card at the start of the DVD copy notes that the film was brought to DVD using the best elements possible. The Technicolor in the DVD print is washed out, yet still very effective. In fact, in a strange way the pale colors "work," helping to convey the look of a very different time and place. It's interesting, in fact, to note that the original New York Times review by Bosley Crowther refers to the film's "under-lighted Technicolor."

A review of the DVD by Jeremy Arnold has been published at the TCM website.

If you enjoy films such as PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, BRIGADOON, or SOMEWHERE IN TIME, I recommend I'LL NEVER FORGET YOU. It's a memorably different and moving film which I'll definitely be watching again in the future.


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