Perfect Strangers (1945 film)

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Perfect Strangers
Perfect Strangers FilmPoster.jpeg
A poster with the film's US title: Vacation from Marriage
Directed by Alexander Korda
Produced by Alexander Korda
Written by Clemence Dane
Anthony Pelissier
Starring Robert Donat
Deborah Kerr
Music by Clifton Parker
Cinematography Georges Périnal
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • 15 October 1945 (1945-10-15)
Running time
102 mins
93 mins (U.S.)
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Perfect Strangers (United States title: Vacation from Marriage), is a 1945 British drama film made by London Films. It stars Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr as a married couple whose relationship is shaken by their service in the Second World War. The supporting cast includes Glynis Johns, Ann Todd, Roland Culver, and Roger Moore in his uncredited debut. It was produced and directed by Alexander Korda from a screenplay by Clemence Dane and Anthony Pelissier based on a story by Clemence Dane. Dane won the Academy Award for Best Story. The music score was by Clifton Parker and the cinematography by Georges Périnal.


Robert and Cathy Wilson (Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr) are a timid married couple in 1940 London. He is a bookkeeper, she a bored housewife. However, their tedium-filled lives are drastically changed by the war. He enlists in the Royal Navy, while she (against his wishes) joins the Wrens. During the three years the couple are apart, they are transformed, each becoming much more self-confident.

Cathy's assertive new friend, Dizzy Clayton (Glynis Johns), helps her break out of her shell. She begins going out with Dizzy's cousin, naval architect Richard (Roland Culver), who falls in love with her. However, she remains faithful (if unenthusiastically) to her husband.

Meanwhile, Robert toughens up on sea duty and in time becomes a petty officer. His hands are badly burned when his ship is sunk, but he stoically rows in the lifeboat for five days without complaint. He recuperates in a hospital, tended by Elena (Ann Todd), a beautiful nurse. On the last night of his stay, he asks her out to dinner. He is attracted to her, but she informs him that she lost her beloved husband only six months earlier, kisses him, and leaves.

Robert and Cathy both receive ten-day leaves, but each dreads being reunited with the dowdy spouse each remembers and being forced back into the dreary life they shared.

Cathy cannot bring herself to return to her flat, where Robert is waiting. Instead, she phones Robert to meet her on more neutral ground. She tells him she will not be returning to him. He is relieved and readily agrees to a divorce, to her surprise. They then go to the neighbourhood pub, where each discovers the wholesale changes in the other. They find that they are "perfect strangers". Nonetheless, they are attracted to each other. Robert's friend 'Scotty' lets slip Robert's unflattering description of the 'old' Cathy to the new; it hardens her heart. But later that night, the couple reconsider and reconcile.





  • The Great British Films, pp 82–84, Jerry Vermilye, 1978, Citadel Press, ISBN 0-8065-0661-X

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