Starring: Gary Cooper, Ann Harding, Ida Lupino
Based on: George (Grandfather of Daphne) Du Maurier novel.
Plot: Set in mid 19th Century, Peter and Mary (aka Mimsey) were childhood friends who lived next door to each other in Paris. When Peter’s mother dies, he is sent to live with his uncle in London and the two children endure a heartbreaking separation. Years later, Peter grows up to be a disaffected young man (Gary Cooper). As an architect, he gets an assignment to design the new stables for the Duke of Towers. He meets and fall in love with the Mary, Duchess of Towers (Ann Harding). Peter and Mary eventually recognize each other from their childhood and decide to run away togther but things have a way of seperating the two lovers for the rest of their lives. However, through their supernatural connection, they are together always in their dreams.
Ramblings: Weird film. Might be worth a look if you like fey stories about love that transcend time and circumstances. It’s a little known film that is usually mentioned alongside movies like Somewhere in Time, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and Portrait of Jennie which all have a similar theme.
Personally, I would say that this film is not nearly as good as the ones mentioned above. I loved the idea of it. There is something very poignant about childhood sweetheart stories and the idea of soulmates. But didnt like the execution very much. The movie is in three parts. The last section in which the lovers meets in dreams is very over-the-top in comparison in tone to the first two parts, bordering on me going WTF.
This is all exasperated by what I would consider the miscasting of the two main leads. This is the first movie with Ann Harding that I have ever seen and I can see why her name has been mostly forgotten. (She does have the distinction of being the very first Linda Seton — yes, the one that I name myself after — on screen before Katharine Hepburn. Unfortunately, no copy of the first Holiday is available on VHS or DVD.) Here, she is rather cold and charmless in a role that could use a lot of both traits. I like Gary Cooper very much: he is an American icon after all, but he is not quite the right fit to play a melancholic young man probably in the tradition of Goethe’s Werther and Alexandre Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. I’m pretty sure that Cooper was on record that this was one of about five roles in his career that he was miscast in. I think Leslie Howard, Charles Boyer, or Frederic March would have been better for this title role. Especially March, as I have found in effective in movies with the paranormal like Death Takes a Holiday and I Married a Witch.