Perfect Strangers (1945)    1 Stars

“Mr. Chips Is Back In A New Thrilling Romance!”

Perfect Strangers (1945)
Perfect Strangers (1945)

 

Director: Alexander Korda

Cast: Robert Donat, Deborah Kerr, Glynis Johns

Synopsis: A dull married couple, separated by their enlistment during World War II, reunite after three years to find that they have become very different people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The storyline of Perfect Strangers skims over the surface of its main characters – a couple who are separated and changed by their experiences in WWII – like a stone across water, therefore never giving either of them any real depth or shape. This may be because the movie opens when, as a couple, they are already set in their staid, unimaginative ways. We never really gain any insight into whether the mundane routine of their marriage stifled their romance, or whether they simply married each other because they believed they might find no-one more suitable, and therefore never knew any passion in their marriage.

Both characters’ naive and superficial responses to the changes they have undergone are handled just as poorly, symptomatic of the malaise that runs throughout the entire script. Ok, the movie is primarily a comedy but, like many comedies, its underlying theme and message, is serious. It’s effectively a form of propaganda: the war is nearly over, now the rebuilding – of both cities (a devastated London is the backdrop for much of the story), and relationships that have been put on hold for the duration – must begin.

It’s a shame because all other aspects of the movie are fairly much top-notch. Robert Donat (The 39 Steps) is excellent as usual, as is Deborah Kerr (Please Believe Me, The Grass is Greener), both managing to appear sympathetic while motivated by somewhat selfish interests. Glynis Johns (49th Parallel, Papa’s Delicate Condition) and Roland Culver (Dead of Night, The Mackintosh Man) offer able support (although Culver as a romantic character is something of a stretch), and the story is pacey enough to hold the interest.

The version viewed was the 92 minute US version (rather than the original UK 102 minute version), which may account for some of the deficiencies in plot/character development.

(Reviewed 27th January 2002)

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