Saturday, October 02, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Love Story (1944)

Fans of Stewart Granger or Margaret Lockwood won't want to miss LOVE STORY, a highly enjoyable romance about two people with painful secrets who fall in love.

Lissa Campbell (Lockwood) has had a career as a famous concert pianist under the stage name Felicity Creighton, but everything changes when she learns she has a heart condition and may have only months to live. Lissa drops her career and goes on holiday at a resort in Cornwall, hoping to enjoy the world around her for the first time in years. Lissa meets Kit Firth (Granger), a charming rogue who is inexplicably uninterested in doing anything to help the war effort.

Unbeknownst to Lissa, Kit suffered a serious injury while serving in the RAF, and consequently he expects to lose his vision within a matter of weeks. Kit and Lissa fall in love, each pledging to keep the romance light in order to spare the other their problems, but they soon find it's just not that simple...especially with Kit's childhood friend Judy (Patricia Roc), who secretly loves Kit, complicating their lives.

I find Granger and Lockwood both extremely appealing film personalities, and I loved watching them in Kit and Lissa's story. Patricia Roc, who starred as the sweet young factory worker in MILLIONS LIKE US (1943), gives a multilayered performance, gradually revealing a selfish manipulator under her friendly, ostensibly caring exterior. Tom Walls is also notable as a Yorkshire industrialist in Cornwall on a government mining project, who takes on the roles of both Cupid and the voice of conscience for the three lead characters.

The film has a wonderful mood, thanks to the black and white photography, the rugged Cornish coastline, and a memorable musical score. The film builds to a marvelous romantic musical climax set at London's Royal Albert Hall.

This seems to be my week for watching love stories featuring heroines with dire health conditions, as that was also a theme of the excellent EMBRACEABLE YOU (1948). It's of note that music plays an essential role in both of these films, whether it's Gershwin and other standards heard on the soundtrack of EMBRACEABLE YOU or the haunting "Cornish Rhapsody" composed by Hubert Bath for LOVE STORY. The films also share an admirable sense of emotional restraint and are moving without being mawkish or syrupy. The films may sound like they are downers, but I found just the opposite was true: they were both uplifting movies which I'll be wanting to watch again in the future.

A solo performance of "Cornish Rhapsody" may be heard on YouTube here. (Harriet Cohen dubs Lockwood's playing in the film.) "Cornish Rhapsody" has been recorded multiple times since it was first heard in LOVE STORY, including on the album WARSAW CONCERTO AND OTHER PIANO CONCERTOS FROM THE MOVIES.

LOVE STORY was directed by Leslie Arliss, who was also one of the film's writers. The film runs approximately 108 minutes. It was released in the United States with the ill-fitting title A LADY SURRENDERS.

It's a shame that this film isn't available on video or DVD in the United States. It's been released on DVD in the UK multiple times; the copy I watched was part of the wonderful 12-film Stewart Granger Collection, released on Region 2 DVD. The print is in need of restoration, as it has noticeable minor flaws and scratches, but it is otherwise a sharp print of relatively good quality.

It's also part of the Region 2 Margaret Lockwood Collection.

Update: Good news, LOVE STORY is now available on DVD in the U.S. from VCI.


Blogger Matthew Coniam said...

I especially like this one because I recognise so many of the Cornish locations, not far from where I grew up.
Though some shots of it are obviously reproduced in a studio, you may be interested to know that that wonderful open air theatre cut into the cliffside is real and still operating: it's called the Minack Theatre ( definitely worth a visit if you're ever down that way!

1:11 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the marvelous info on the theatre, Matthew! I loved seeing the photos on the website. That was one thing among several which made this film so distinctive.

How wonderful that you recognize some of the locations. The film seemed to be a mix of actual location work (including the theatre) with studio shots and a few back projections. I'd love to visit Cornwall one day, especially as it's also POLDARK country.

Do you know if the scene at Royal Albert Hall was done at a studio or the actual location? I haven't been inside the actual hall (someday!) and couldn't tell.

Best wishes,

3:51 PM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

oooh, Stewart Granger Collection. That is a seriously tempting DVD set - it might be my Xmas present to myself. I really look forward to seeing this sometime.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Matthew Coniam said...

I'd have to watch the film again to be certain, but my recollection is that it's the real Albert Hall...
Even the back projections of Cornwall are authentic, and instantly recognisable to we locals...
How wonderful that you are a Poldark fan! You really must book a flight and come visit the Westcountry. Captain Blamey's house, Dr Ennis's house, Nampara... they're all real and they're all still standing!

12:53 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the additional info, Matthew!

I've got a couple well-worn books with photos of POLDARK locations...someday I definitely hope to see them in person, and perhaps I'll see more than the exterior of Royal Albert Hall, too (grin).

Best wishes,

1:06 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

It's a great DVD set, Panavia -- I'm enjoying working my way through it title by title. Still many to go!

Best wishes,

1:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older