Sunday, December 02, 2001


A lot of classic movie fans have said that this movie is one of their favorite romantic tearjerkers. I'm the kind who will cry at anything; after dozens of viewings, I still get choked up watching IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE--heck, I even get a little weepy just thinking about Chandler proposing to Monica on FRIENDS. However, I needed no Kleenex to get through this movie. Ronald Colman is a WWI soldier with shellshock and amnesia. He escapes from an asylum during the celebration of the Armistice and meets up with Greer Garson, a chorus girl who takes him under her wing. They make a life together as he recovers from shellshock, though he never remembers anything about his past life. Just after the birth of their child, he travels to Liverpool for a job interview and is hit by a car. He's alright, but his memory returns (it turns out he's from a wealthy family) and he completely forgets about his life with Garson. Eventually, Garson finds him, gets a job as his secretary, and basically turns into a long-suffering bystander, hoping he will eventually remember her.

The set-up is fine, if a bit melodramatic, but it just takes so damn long for it play out. At one point, Colman is on the verge of marrying Susan Peters but his sense of his missing life is too strong to let him simply settle down without knowing what he's missing from his past. Garson keeps hoping that something will jog his memory, but she remains mostly passive. I kept yelling at Garson, "Oh, for God's sake, just tell him!!" That kind of frustration kept me from getting teary. We are teased with a long scene near the end where Colman visits the town where he and Garson first met. He keeps running into people and places that he should remember, but he doesn't. That scene is kind of fun, in a tense way.

Colman is good in his early shellshock scenes, but I didn't think he gave his character much depth. However, I was impressed with Garson throughout, even when I wanted to slap her. She was lovely and dignified, though she certainly doesn't age the 12 years or so that she's supposed to. Reginald Owen (Scrooge in MGM's 1938 CHRISTMAS CAROL) has a nice bit as an old friend of Garson's, but even though there is a big supporting cast, including personal favorites Henry Travers, Una O'Connor, and Melville Cooper, not many get a chance to stand out. Not a bad movie, but a little disappointing.

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