1945 ... “Vacation From Marriage”, aka “Perfect Strangers”
I have tried everything, over the years, to recall the title of a wonderful World War II movie set in London. It wasn’t until I read about a similar situation at Alan G’s excellent blog, Some Final Thoughts, that I was able to track it down.
I, too, went to TCM, registered and posted my question. Within 24 hours a nice lady named Annie had the answer for me. Isn’t this computer age a wondrous thing? And, to go back even further…it was due to something that Terri wrote on her blog, Island Writer, that prompted Alan to pursue his quest! It’s just one big line of communications.
Now, to the movie. It features Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr as a young married couple in London. Their marriage has become a dull routine. I remember the husband, Robert, as a lackluster accountant and his wife, Catherine, as a slovenly housekeeper with a constant cold. They have been married for 5 years and, with the advent of World War II, he is drafted into the Navy. Rather than stay at home she decides to serve also and they spend the next 3 years apart.
The rest of the movie chronicles those years. Robert is wounded and falls in love with his nurse and Catherine (who no longer suffers from a cold) has become very attractive and is being pursued by an admirer. After three years of writing the couple finally get a leave at the same time and prepare to reunite. They both have it in their minds to dissolve the marriage and, although they are surprised and pleased with the changes that they see in each other, it comes very close to that.
Robert and Catherine argue violently and he storms off. She proceeds on to their old flat and finds that a bomb has taken out one wall. Robert enters at this point...expecting to pick up a few things…and sees Catherine. She is gazing through the open wall at the devastated city and they talk of the rebuilding that it will take to bring London back to where it was before the war. It becomes a metaphor for their own lives and they agree to try anew.
OK, so it’s a “Chick-flick”...but it’s a very good one. It was produced and directed by Alexander Korda and written by Clemence Dane, who’s original story won an Academy Award.