David Lean fell for Ann Todd while shooting this 1948 drama and his adoration shines through every impeccably composed frame. The blonde beauty plays Mary, a banker’s wife torn between a life of comfort with her stuffy husband (Claude Rains) and one of loved-up penury with first beau Trevor Howard. As the flashbacks-within-flashbacks oscillate between 1930s London and post-war Switzerland, though, her inability to commit has emotional ramifications that build to a Brief Encounter-style finale on an Underground platform. The shadow of that 1945 masterpiece looms large over this rather muddled potboiler, which perhaps explains its relative obscurity in Lean’s distinguished canon. Rains is terrific as the enraged cuckold, though, while the Swiss scenery, captured in shimmering monochrome by DoP Guy Green, offers a telling metaphor for Todd’s glacial beauty.
The Passionate Friends review
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