Brief Encounter (1945)
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A married doctor and a middle-class wife and mother have a chance meeting when the woman gets a cinder in her eye. The doctor stops to help and the two strangers suddenly discover an unexpected attraction between them. Years of dreary, dull routine give way to a new sensual awakening for the couple as they begin to see each other frequently but they know, in the end, they must return to their spouses and resume their former lives.
Brief Encounter (1945) was the film that first established David Lean as one of the world's great directors, with a sense of character and romantic fatalism that would be found in such later hits as Great Expectations (1946), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965).
It was also Lean's first film to use trains and train stations, which would become a trademark of his work, appearing in such films as Summertime (1955), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago.
In England, Brief Encounter became what Sir Richard Attenborough calls "a landmark and touchstone" for the film industry. Made on a small scale and without stars, it pointed the way for filmmakers wanting to try new things by showing just how successful a seemingly noncommercial property could be.
The film was one of several post-World War II hits -- including Laurence Olivier's Henry V, Compton Bennett's The Seventh Veil and Lean's Blithe Spirit (all 1945) -- to help establish British films as financially viable in U.S. markets. The quartet of British pictures also did surprisingly well in the Academy Award® nominations, making 1946 the first year the Oscars® took on an international flavor.
This was the fourth and final collaboration for Lean and Noel Coward. They had previously co-directed the World War II drama In Which We Serve (1942), from Coward's script. Then Lean directed and co-wrote screen versions of Coward's This Happy Breed (1944) and Blithe Spirit (1945), with Coward producing.
Director: David Lean
Producer: Noel Coward, Anthony Havelock-Allan, Ronald Neame
Screenplay: Anthony Havelock-Allan, David Lean, Ronald Neame
Based on the play "Still Life" by Noel Coward
Cinematography: Robert Krasker
Editing: Jack Harris
Art Direction: Lawrence P. Williams
Music: Sergei Rachmaninoff
Cast: Celia Johnson (Laura Jesson), Trevor Howard (Alec Harvey), Cyril Raymond (Fred Jesson), Stanley Holloway (Albert Godby), Joyce Carey (Myrtle Bagot), Everley Gregg (Dolly Messiter), Valentine Dyall (Stephen Lynn), Irene Handl (Organist)
by Frank Miller