“I loved you; I’ve never loved anyone else.”
During World War I, a ballerina (Viven Leigh) in London falls in love with an army captain (Robert Taylor) on leave, and they make plans to marry upon his return. When Leigh learns in the newspaper that Taylor has died, she and her roommate (Virginia Field) turn to prostitution to survive — but when Taylor suddenly appears live and well, Leigh must determine whether to tell him the truth about her recent past.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cross-Class Romance
- Mervyn LeRoy Films
- Prostitutes and Gigolos
- Robert Taylor Films
- Star-Crossed Lovers
- Vivien Leigh Films
- World War I
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “extremely well-made, extremely depressing adult romance” — based on a play by Robert E. Sherwood — is one which “Vivien Leigh fans — at least those who don’t mind watching her suffer for 75 minutes — have long held dear.” He notes that while “Sherwood’s play was sanitized quite a bit”, it was “still daring for the cinema of the day” and “may have been a warning to young women not to wander while their men are away at war” — though Leigh and Field, “who is really appealing as her roommate and best friend, play their prostitute roles with great empathy, so that we admire rather than look down on them.” Indeed, Peary points out that “more interesting than the undying love between Taylor and Leigh are the supportive relationships among the various women” in the film. He writes that while “director Mervyn LeRoy, never known for his handling of women, directs with great sensitivity”, the “picture belongs to Leigh, who is absolutely splendid, passionate as well as beautiful.” While Peary’s review accurately captures the many fine qualities of this romantic soaper — including Leigh’s performance, one of her first after winning an Oscar for Gone With the Wind — it’s ultimately too much of a downer to recommend for anyone other than fans of the lead stars. We can see where this one is headed, and it’s no place good.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Vivien Leigh as Myra
- Robert Taylor as Roy
- Virginia Field as Kitty
- Joseph Ruttenberg’s cinematography
No; this one is only must-see viewing for fans of Leigh or Taylor.