powered by AFI
In the late 1940s, Stewart Granger was one of Britain's top box office attractions, a romantic leading man in swashbuckling costume dramas. Jean Simmons had first gained notice as the coquettish Estella in David Lean's Great Expectations (1946), and fame when Laurence Olivier selected her as his Ophelia in Hamlet (1948). The two had first crossed paths when Granger was a dashing second lead and Simmons a bit player in Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). Two years later, they ran into each other again at Rank Studios, where Simmons was by then a rising star. She was 18 and an "adorable creature," Granger recalled in his autobiography Sparks Fly Upward. He was a "very shopworn 34," separated but not divorced, and the father of two. The couple began a romance, and Granger divorced in 1948.
Granger was uncertain about marrying Simmons, but he remained enchanted by her youthful beauty and charm. He was also becoming bored with his own career, and was thinking about moving into producing and directing. He decided to develop an idea for a film for them to appear in together. It was based, Granger freely admitted in his autobiography, on the classic novel Daddy Long Legs (1912), which had first been made into a Mary Pickford film in 1919 and would later become a 1955 musical starring Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron. He gave an outline to screenwriter Noel Langley, who wrote a script, and Granger proposed the film to Rank. The result, Adam and Evelyne (1949), was a delightful, American-style romantic comedy that took Granger out of tights and into modern dress, and let Simmons blossom onscreen from child to lovely young woman. It also showed a flair for comedy that neither had displayed onscreen before.
Simmons plays Evelyne Wallace, the daughter of a gambler. She has grown up in an orphanage and has never met her father, although he writes her constantly and promises to take her to live with him. When Evelyne's father dies, his closest friend and fellow gambler Adam Black takes her into his home in London, and she's convinced that he's actually her father. Fighting his growing attraction to Evelyne, Adam sends her to finishing school in Switzerland. When she returns, a poised young lady, Adam's feelings for her increase, to the chagrin of his longtime mistress. He's finally forced to confront his emotions, and the lies he's told Evelyne about how he makes his living.
Although Granger had initiated Adam and Evelyne so he could be with Simmons, he found the love scenes unexpectedly difficult. He writes in his autobiography that he felt self-conscious declaring his love for her on film, and the director complained that Granger wasn't giving the impression that he loved her at all. Simmons wasn't much help, teasing Granger under her breath. In a scene when he tells her that he's too old for her, she said "you're telling me, you dirty old man." Later, when she declares her love, she whispered, "and I mean it, too," causing Granger to forget his lines.
Apparently Adam and Evelyne was an opportunity for Granger to confront the depth of his feelings for Simmons off-screen as well. They married in 1950. That same year, Granger signed a contract with MGM and the couple moved to Hollywood, where Simmons found out that Howard Hughes had bought her contract from Rank. Her suit to get out of the Hughes contract was unsuccessful, but she did win concessions, and both she and her husband became top stars in American films. Simmons and Granger made two more films together, Young Bess (1953) and Footsteps in the Fog (1955), both made at the peak of their fame as a couple and in the peak years of their individual careers. Unfortunately, there was no happy ending for the couple. They divorced in 1960, and Simmons married American director Richard Brooks, who directed her in one of her best performances, Sister Sharon in Elmer Gantry (1960). But Adam and Evelyne remains a sweet souvenir of Simmons and Granger's courtship.
Producer: Harold French
Director: Harold French
Screenplay: Noel Langley (story); Lesley Storm, Nicholas Phipps, George Barraud (all three additional scenes and dialogue)
Cinematography: Guy Green
Art Direction: Paul Sheriff
Music: Mischa Spoliansky
Film Editing: John D. Guthridge
Cast: Stewart Granger (Adam Black), Jean Simmons (Evelyne Wallace), Edwin Styles (Bill Murray), Raymond Young (Roddy Black), Helen Cherry (Moira), Beatrice Varley (Mrs. Parker), Joan Swinstead (Molly), Wilfrid Hyde-White (Colonel Bradley), Fred Johnson (Chris Kirby), Geoffrey Denton (Inspector Collins), Peter Reynolds (David), Brenda Hogan (Christine), John Forrest (Tony).
by Margarita Landazuri