|WATERLOO BRIDGE (1940)|
C. Aubrey Smith
|Time: 108 mins.|
Rating: Not Rated
Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Score.
|"Every parting from you is like a little eternity."|
SYNOPSIS: A hard-luck love story about a British officer and a ballerina who fall in love on the eve of WWI. Forced to part, their lives take drastic turns on their way back to each other.
BOTTOM LINE: Leigh raises the quality of this WWI melodrama with her powerful transition from innocent, lovelorn ballet dancer to reluctant, world-weary prostitute in a world turned upside down by war. A chance meeting with an officer during an air raid, initially brings romance and love into Myra's life. Roy (Taylor) is every woman's dream come true. His only fault is his imminent departure for the French front. Their plans for a quick wedding are dashed by military orders, leaving Myra scared and alone. She quickly finds herself without a job and potentially without a husband, as she lives hand to mouth desperately waiting for news. Things becomes so bad she and her roommate Kitty (Field) are forced into working the streets in order to survive. When Roy suddenly reappears in her life, Myra is overwhelmed with joy at his presence and horrified at what she's become. In the end, her sorrow at what's been lost is too much for her to bear. She'd rather live without Roy forever, than destroy his future by marrying a whore. A rather quaint notion by today's standards, taken a bit too far here. Her refusal to give him a chance to decide for himself whether she's still worth his love is the film's major flaw. Wartime romance is shown to be both exciting and devastating, which is probably one of the film's greatest truths. The film gives equal time to both emotions and the lengths people had to go to to stay alive. Leigh and Taylor have great chemistry as the hopeful, young lovers. If filmed today, they'd have gotten a happy ending.