The End of the Affair (1955 film)
|The End of the Affair|
|Directed by||Edward Dmytryk|
|Produced by||David Lewis|
|Screenplay by||Lenore Coffee|
|Based on||The End of the Affair|
by Graham Greene
|Music by||Benjamin Frankel|
|Edited by||Alan Osbiston|
|Color process||Black and white|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
The End of the Affair is a 1955 British-American drama romance film directed by Edward Dmytryk, based on Graham Greene's 1951 novel of the same name. The film stars Deborah Kerr, Van Johnson, John Mills and Peter Cushing. It was filmed largely on location in London, particularly in and around Chester Terrace. The film was entered into the 1955 Cannes Film Festival.
Writer Maurice Bendrix (Van Johnson) settles in London in 1943-44 after being wounded in the war. His affair with Sarah Miles (Deborah Kerr), wife of civil servant Henry Miles (Peter Cushing), “grows into a deep and abiding passion”. Maurice becomes jealous. He wants to marry, but she won't leave Henry, yet.
The house Maurice lives in is hit by a buzz bomb. He revives, pulls himself from rubble to find Sarah kneeling on the floor of his room. “You. Oh God, Maurice, You're alive!” she cries. As she tends the wounds on his face, he asks why she was kneeling. She was praying. She was certain he was dead. He says he wasn't pinned down, and describes “such an odd sensation...a terrific sense of space and distance, like I'd been on a long journey.” She stares at him, her face wet with tears, then leaves abruptly. “Will I see you tomorrow?” he asks. “I don't know... It may not be safe,” she says. “Don't look so frightened, love doesn't end because we don't see each other.” She shuts the door and he runs after her to find the street empty. Maurice suffers from delayed shock and is bedridden for several days. When he recovers, he tries to reach Sarah, in vain, and his “jealousy turns to hate”.
A year later, the war is over. Maurice struggles with his book and his hate for Sarah. One rainy night, he sees Henry: “It was as if a hand plucked at my elbow...and said ‘speak to him'.” Henry is worried about Sarah, and invites Maurice home for a drink. Sarah, who "is out at all hours," returns home soaking wet, and is vague and detached with both of them.
Maurice confronts Sarah, who takes all the blame. Partridge (John Mills), a private investigator, reports to Maurice in the darkened flat. He describes Maurice's meeting with Sarah in detail, interpreting it as a final parting and describing Sarah as “looking ready to weep her eyes out.” Maurice reveals himself, saying the parting was long ago.
Sarah has been visiting an R. Smythe. Partridge has the bottom of a discarded note in Sarah's handwriting that ends “nothing matters except that we should be together, now and forever.” Partridge obtains Sarah's journal, observing that she appears to be very ill.
Maurice reads the journal. We hear Sarah's voice describing the past year. Maurice lies in the rubble, under a door. She takes his hand, then returns to the apartment. Weeping, she prays: "I love him, I'll do anything...“I'll give Maurice up forever, only just let him be alive!” Maurice calls her name. She plans to tell him about her "hysterical" promise, but then he seems to remember what it was like to be dead. “Now the agony of being without you starts," she writes. Sarah confides in a Catholic priest. At home, Henry tells her that Maurice has been taken to hospital with delayed shock...
The war ends, and suddenly Sarah wants Maurice beside her. She returns to the priest. “Now that I'm what they call good I'm no good to anyone. What does God want with me?” She lights a candle and for the first time in months feels “a little tremble of happiness.” At home, she finds Maurice with Henry. It took “everything she had” to walk up the stairs. She writes a love letter, records it in the diary and tears it up, creating the scrap of paper Partridge found.
She tells her friend, Richard Smythe, that she is going back to Maurice because she believes that God will love her even if she breaks her vow. But when Henry tells her how much he needs her, she promises not to leave him. The diary ends with a cry of pain and love for Maurice. He closes the journal and phones her.
She begs him not to come. He pursues her to the church, through pouring rain, promising they will be together. Maurice comes to the house and finds Sarah is dying.
At home, he finds a letter from Sarah: She can never see him again. She has never loved as she loves him. She believes. “Have it your way Sarah.” Maurice says. “ I believe that you live and that He exists. But I'm tired. Just give me a little time...”
- Deborah Kerr as Sarah Miles
- Van Johnson as Maurice Bendrix
- John Mills as Albert Parkis
- Peter Cushing as Henry Miles
- Michael Goodliffe as Smythe
- Stephen Murray as Father Crompton
- Charles Goldner as Savage
- Nora Swinburne as Mrs. Bertram
- Frederick Leister as Dr Collingwood
- Mary Williams as Maid
- Laurence Shiel as Doctor (as O 'Donovan Shiell)
- Elsie Wagstaff as Bendrix Landlady
- Christopher Warbey as Lancelot Parkis
- Nan Munro as Mrs Tomkins
- Joyce Carey as Miss Palmer
- Josephine Wilson as Miss Smythe
- Victor Maddern as 1st Orator
- David Bird as 3rd Orator
- Sheila Ward as Old Woman (as Shela Ward)
- Edwin Ellis as Rescue Worker
- Stanley Rose as Fireman
- Bart Allison as Museum Attendant
- W. Throp Deverreux as Club Servant (as W. Throp Devereux)
- Mary Reed as Cameo appearance
- Margeant Holmes as Cameo appearance
- John H. Watson aa Cameo appearance
The New York Times’ Bosley Crowther had harsh words for Lenore Coffee’s adaptation of the novel. “It is too bad the drama is so muddy, for the cast is good for this film. Miss Kerr is ideal for the lady and Van Johnson is apt for the man. Peter Cushing as the lady's cryptic husband and John Mills as a jaunty private-eye are also exceedingly potential in the only other fair-size roles. But the story just is not articulate, so no matter how diligently and well Edward Dmytryk has directed, it all comes out cluttered and cold."
- "Festival de Cannes: The End of the Affair". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
- The film ends here. The novel continues to describe the sometimes-miraculous circumstances Maurice encounters on his journey to faith.
- Crowther, Bosley (29 April 1955). "Screen: 'End of the Affair'; Deborah Kerr, Johnson Play the Lovers (Published 1955)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
- "The End of the Affair (1999)". BFI.
- Tibbetts, John C., and James M. Welsh, eds. The Encyclopedia of Novels Into Film (2nd ed. 2005) pp 117–118.