Cast & Crew
In World War II London, Maurice Bendrix receives an honorable discharge from the military and resumes his writing career. While researching a project on civil servants, Maurice is invited to a party at the home of bureaucrat Henry Miles and his wife Sarah, to whom Maurice is immediately attracted. When Henry recommends that Maurice interview Sarah for his project as she knows him best, Maurice agrees. Maurice meets Sarah a few days later and the two soon begin a clandestine romance. Over the next several months Maurice and Sarah fall deeply in love, meeting often at a small country inn. Maurice frets continually and despite Sarah's reassurances, is deeply suspicious and jealous of her life without him. In London, Sarah meets Miles at his apartment, despite the constant threats of air raids. During one rendezvous, the couple is unnerved by the new German "buzz bombs," which cause great damage. During an attack, Maurice suggests they go below to the shelter, but Sarah worries about his landlady seeing them together. Maurice goes downstairs to see if the shelter is empty, but as he arrives on the first floor, a bomb detonates near the house and he is caught in the explosion and buried beneath the shattered front door. Regaining consciousness moments later, Maurice stumbles upstairs and to his surprise finds Sarah kneeling by the bed. She is shocked to see him and, in answer to Maurice's query, admits that she was praying, as she had found him after the blast and believed him dead. Sarah tends to Maurice's injuries for some moments before abruptly departing. Over the next several days, Maurice recovers from the explosion but is unable to reach Sarah. Soon Maurice grows bitter, believing Sarah has used the bombing incident to break off with him. Depressed, Maurice leaves London and does not return for a year, after the war has ended. One evening shortly after his return, Maurice is walking home in the rain when he meets Henry. Agitated and nervous, Henry invites Maurice home, and after learning that Sarah is out, Maurice agrees. Over drinks, Henry confesses his concern about Sarah's strange withdrawal and long absences and has gone so far as to consider hiring a detective. When Henry admits that he is disgusted by the thought of taking this action, Maurice volunteers to do so for him, but Henry refuses. The next day Maurice visits the Savage detective agency and hires them to track Sarah's movements. Later, Maurice tries to contact Sarah and then walks to her house, intercepting her arrival. When Maurice demands an explanation for their breakup, Sarah offers none. The next day, Maurice meets the Savage agency representative, Albert Parkis, and is abashed to learn that his report details Maurice's own meeting with Sarah. A few days later, however, Parkis summons Maurice to witness Sarah's arrival at the address of Richard Smythe, whom she has visited several times. Later, Parkis reveals that he has befriended the Miles's maid and offers him a portion of a letter written by Sarah, which includes Sarah's declaration of lifetime commitment. Maurice contacts Henry and demands a meeting at his club, where he discusses the investigation, Sarah's mysterious meetings with Smythe and the letter. Henry is dismayed and angry at Maurice and refuses to believe the report. That evening, Parkis presents Maurice with Sarah's diary and adds that Sarah has been in poor health. Maurice brings the investigation to a close and begins reading the diary: During their affair, Sarah worries constantly that despite her love for him, Maurice's needless suspicions will ruin their relationship. During the night of the buzz bomb attack, Sarah finds Maurice buried beneath debris and believes him dead. Returning upstairs in shock, Sarah is driven to desperate prayer, vowing to give up Maurice if he is allowed to live. At Maurice's appearance, Sarah realizes she must take her promise seriously and on her way home stops at a nearby church and confesses to Father Crompton. Plagued by her pledge, Sarah soon begins seeing public orator Smythe, who declares that God cannot exist and allow the destruction of the war to continue. Conflicted, Sarah also continues to see Father Crompton. The day that Parkis and Maurice follow Sarah to Smythe's, she bids Smythe farewell, explaining that his hatred against God has only helped her realize His existence, but also that she is causing Henry great unhappiness. Returning home, Sarah writes a love letter to Maurice, apologizing and vowing to return to him, but then tears the letter up and throws it away. Henry arrives home shaken and pleads with Sarah not to leave him and she reluctantly agrees. After finishing the diary, Maurice calls Sarah, who refuses to see him. When he insists, Sarah flees the house into a rainstorm, but Maurice follows her and makes her promise to return to him. Weakly proclaiming that she does not have the strength to continue battling all the forces pulling at her, Sarah agrees. The next day, Maurice finds Sarah gravely ill, and her mother and a physician in attendance with Henry. Everyone is stunned when Sarah abruptly dies, and Maurice returns home shattered. He finds a letter from Sarah declaring that she cannot go away with him and will never see him again, and that she believes in her promise to God despite and because of her love for him. Maurice weeps and tells Sarah that in time he may understand.
W. Thorp Devereux
John H. Watson
David E. Rose
The End of the Affair (1955)
The protagonist is Maurice Bendrix, an American writer (like the Joseph Cotten character in The Third Man , also based on a Greene novel) who's been living in London during World War II ever since a wound resulted in his discharge from the army. Doing book research at a party given by a civil servant named Henry Miles, he discovers that this very dull man has a very attractive wife and a frisky one, who kisses another man at the party when she thinks no one is looking. Before long Sarah Miles and Bendrix are having an extramarital fling, marred only by Bendrix's jealousy over her and his guilt about betraying Henry, a mild-mannered schnook who hasn't done anything wrong except being tedious. One day the lovers have a tryst while the London blitz rages outside, and when Bendrix goes downstairs for a moment he gets blasted by a bomb hit that buries him beneath the crushing weight of a heavy wooden door. A little later he reappears upstairs, where Sarah is on her knees, still reeling from everything that's happened. She says goodbye and leaves for home, and Bendrix enters a hospital for treatment. When he's unable to contact Sarah after his release, he concludes that she secretly wanted to dump him and is disappointed that he didn't die in the explosion.
Bendrix leaves London to recover from these events, and when he returns after the war he runs into Henry, who's finally worked up some strong feelings over Sarah's habit of spending suspiciously long periods of time out of the house. Henry can't quite bring himself to hire a private eye and find out what's going on, but Bendrix, still jealous after all this time, does exactly that. The plot takes an important twist when the detective swipes Sarah's diary, which reveals to Bendrix that Sarah was praying for his recovery when he found her on her knees after the bomb blast, and that despite her lack of religious belief, she promised God she'd end their affair if Bendrix was allowed to live. Bendrix did live, of course he may even have been resurrected because of her prayer and Sarah was stuck with her promise. Since then she's been sneaking off to meetings with an atheist named Smythe, hoping she can shake off the newfound religious faith that's put a stop to her extramarital love life. The final scenes bring the story's various themes and subplots Bendrix's ongoing passion, Sarah's struggle with faith, Henry's dreary existence to a bittersweet conclusion.
In addition to being a novelist, screenwriter, and movie critic, Greene was a Roman Catholic convert who took what are now called "faith-based values" as seriously as any popular author of his time. The End of the Affair is one of his most personal and openly religious books, and it's also quite ambitious, blending a chronologically complex narrative told through flashbacks, flash-forwards, and multiple perspectives with a richly romantic yet wholly unsentimental tone. Given the story's emphasis on religious struggle and illicit sex, it isn't surprising that screenwriter Lenore Coffee had to make large changes in her adaptation, soft-pedaling the sexual escapades, cutting out a God-sent miracle that knocks the atheist Smythe for a loop, and watering down the climactic scene where Bendrix finds himself believing in a God he now implores to get out of his life.
More surprising is the fact that after Dmytryk shot the picture with a flashback-filled structure resembling that of the novel, Columbia Pictures belatedly decided this would confuse moviegoers and recut the entire film. On top of all this, many observers felt that Van Johnson, described by one critic as a "hitherto all-American college boy type," was badly miscast as Bendrix, and Greene agreed. According to biographers of Peter Cushing, who plays Henry in the film, Greene visited Shepperton Studios during the shoot and was amazed to see Johnson put chewing gum in his mouth when the camera wasn't directly on him. "I stymied Gregory Peck," he said about his opposition to the producers' first choice. "But to then find that Van Johnson took his place was a disaster."
Cushing reaped more benefits from The End of the Affair than Johnson did; according to his biographers, scoring a substantial part in a major production of a best-selling novel gave a solid boost to his career just two years before his association with Hammer Films made him a staple of the horror genre forever after. Deborah Kerr, who turned down Hitchcock's 3-D thriller Dial M for Murder  to play Sarah, was also enthusiastically received, as when a Variety critic opined that she "radiates warmth and beauty." In other respects Variety was skeptical, though, saying that Johnson's performance "is kept to a single key, inducing an air of monotony," that Cushing's portrayal of Henry is "kept to one plane," and that only John Mills, as the detective, is "able to emerge as a believable character." [Spoiler Alert] Bosley Crowther was even more negative in the New York Times, opening his review by saying that Sarah is "so badly confused and irrational in her wobbling between love for man and God that she's probably best off in the condition she finally comes to, which is dead." Crowther certainly didn't mince words. By contrast, the British magazine Picturegoer called the production "an unusually distinguished film that provokes and excites. It may irritate, too, but you won't breathe freely until the end of this affair." Compared with Greene's briskly intellectual novel and Jordan's fine remake with Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore, the somberly directed Dmytryk production seems tame and talky at times. Yet it offers more food for thought in 106 minutes than The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur do in 220 and 212 minutes, and that makes it well worth watching.
Producer: David Lewis
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Screenplay: Lenore J. Coffee
Cinematographer: Wilkie Cooper
Film Editing: Alan Osbiston
Art Direction: Don Ashton
Music: Benjamin Frankel
Cast: Deborah Kerr (Sarah Miles), Van Johnson (Maurice Bendrix), John Mills (Albert Parkis), Peter Cushing (Henry Miles), Stephen Murray (Father Crompton), Nora Swinburne (Mrs. Bertram), Charles Goldner (Savage), Michael Goodliffe (Smythe), Joyce Carey (Miss Palmer), Frederick Leister (Dr. Collingwood), Mary Williams (Maid), O'Donovan Shiell (Doctor), Elsie Wagstaff (Bendrix Landlady), Christopher Warbey (Lancelot Parkis), Nan Munro (Mrs. Tomkins), Josephine Wilson (Miss Smythe), Victor Maddern (1st Orator), David Bird (3rd Orator), Shela Ward (Old Woman), Edwin Ellis (Rescue Worker), Stanley Rose (Fireman), Bart Allison (Museum Attendant), W. Thorp Devereux (Club Servant), Mary Reed (Special Guest), Margaret Holmes (Special Guest), John H. Watson (Special Guest).
by David Sterritt
The End of the Affair (1955)
TCM Remembers Van Johnson - Important Schedule Change on TCM In Honor To Salute VAN JOHNSON
The new schedule for the evening of Tuesday, December 23rd will be:
8:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime
9:45 PM A Guy Named Joe
12:30 AM Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
2:30 AM The Last Time I Saw Paris
4:30 AM Thrill of a Romance
Van Johnson (1916-2008)
Van Johnson, the boyish leading man whose clean cut, All-American appeal made him a top box-office draw for MGM during World War II, died on December 12 in Nyack, New York of natural causes. He was 92.
He was born Charles Van Dell Johnson on August 25, 1916, in Newport, Rhode Island. By his own account, his early childhood wasn't a stable one. His mother abandoned him when he was just three and his Swedish-born father offered little consolation or nurturing while he was growing up. Not surprisingly, Johnson found solace in singing and dancing lessons, and throughout his adolescence, he longed for a life in show business. After graduating high school in 1934, he relocated to New York City and was soon performing as a chorus boy on Broadway in shows such as New Faces of 1936 and eventually as an understudy in Rodgers and Hart's musical, Too Many Girls in 1939.
Johnson eventually made his way to Hollywood and landed an unbilled debut in the film version of Too Many Girls (1940). By 1941, he signed a brief contract with Warner Bros., but it only earned him a lead in a "B" programmer Murder in the Big House (1941); his contract soon expired and he was dropped by the studio. Johnson was on his way back to New York, but as luck would have it - in the truest Hollywood sense - friends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz introduced him to Billy Grady, a lead talent scout at MGM, which was currently Ball's new studio. Johnson was signed up and almost immediately MGM had a star on its hands.
It might have been slow going at first, with Johnson playing able support in films such as Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant and The War Against Mrs. Hadley (both 1942). By 1943 the studio capitalized on his broad smile and freckles and starred him in two of the studio's biggest hits: A Guy Named Joe and The Human Comedy. Those two films transformed him into a boxoffice draw with a huge following, particularly among teenage girls. A near fatal car accident that same year only accentuated the loyalty of his fans, and his 4-F status as the result of that accident created an opportunity for him when so many other leading actors of the era (James Stewart, Clark Gable) were off to war. Johnson was quickly promoted as MGM'sleading man in war heroics and sweet romancers on the big screen: The White Cliffs of Dover, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (both 1944), Thrill of a Romance, the episodic Week-End at the Waldorf (both 1945), and a musical remake of Libeled Lady entitled Easy to Wed (1946).
Hits though these were, it wasn't until after the war that Johnson began to receive more dramatic parts and better material such as supporting Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in the political farce State of the Union (1948). other significant roles included the well-modulated noir thriller The Scene of the Crime, the grim war spectacle Battleground (both 1949), the moving domestic drama Invitation (1952) in which he played a man who is paid to marry a woman (Dorothy McGuire) by her father. Before he left MGM, he closed his career out in fine form with the sweeping musical Brigadoon, co-starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse; and the lilting soaper The Last Time I Saw Paris (both 1954) with Elizabeth Taylor.
After he left MGM, the parts that came Johnson's way weren't as varied, but he had his moments in The Caine Mutiny (1954), the beguiling romance drama Miracle in the Rain (1956) with Jane Wyman; and his lead performance in one of the first successful made for-TV-movies The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957). By the '60s, Johnson returned to the stage, and played the title role in London's West End production of The Music Man. He then returned to Broadway in the drama Come on Strong. He still had a few good supporting parts, most notably as Debbie Reynolds' suitor in Norman Lear's scathing satire on marital differences Divorce American Style (1967); and television welcomed his presence on many popular shows in the '70s and '80s such as Maude, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and of course Murder She Wrote. There was one last graceful cameo in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), yet for the most remainder of his career, Johnson worked mainly on the dinner theater circuit before retiring from showbiz completely by the mid-90s. He is survived by a daughter, Schuyler.
by Michael T. Toole
TCM Remembers Van Johnson - Important Schedule Change on TCM In Honor To Salute VAN JOHNSON
Sir John Mills (1908-2005)
Born Lewis Ernest Watts Mills in Norfolk, England on February 22, 1908. His father was a headmaster of a village school in Suffolk, where Mills was raised. After secondary school, he worked as a clerk in a corn merchant's office while acting in amateur dramatic societies. Ever ambitious, he relocated to London in 1928 to find more work as an actor.
He took tap-dancing lessons and made his stage debut as a chorus boy in The Five O'Clock Girl at the London Hippodrome in 1929. Later that year, he joined an acting troupe that toured India and the Far East with a repertory of modern plays, musical comedies and Shakespeare. It was during this tour when he scored his big break - he was spotted by Noel Coward while in Singapore and promptly taken under the playwright's wing when he returned to London in 1931.
On his return, he starred on the West End (London's Broadway), in Coward's Cavalcade and earned the lead in a production of Charley's Aunt. His song and dance talents came in handy for his film debut, an early British musical-comedy The Midshipmaid (1932). His biggest hits over the next few years would all fall into the genre of light comic-musicals: Britannia of Billingsgate (1933), Royal Cavalcade (1935), and Four Dark Hours(1937). He scored a his first big part as Robert Donat's student in the MGM backed production Mills went on to play Robert Donat's Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). He developed some more heft to his acting credentials that same year when he made his debut at the celebrated Old Vic Theatre as Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
He served briefly in the Navy, 1940-41, during World War II before receiving a medical discharge. When Mills returned to the screen, he began a great turn as the atypical sturdy, dignified Englishman ("English without tears" went the popular phrase of the day). He starred as a stalwart lead in a amazing string of hit films: In Which We Serve (1942), We Dive at Dawn (1943), This Happy Breed (1944), The Way to the Stars (1945), and Waterloo Road (1945). Although Mills was ever dependable, they did not show his breakout talents until he starred as Pip in David Lean's gorgeous adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations (1946). As the young orphan who morphs into a man of wealth and stature, Mills showed the depth as an actor by offering a finely modulated performance.
By the late '40s, Mills was a bona fide star of British films, and over the next decade the strong roles kept coming: as the ill-fated Robert Falcon Scott in Scott of the Antarctic (1948); Bassett, the handy man who tries to help a troubled child (the brilliant John Howard Davies) of greedy, neglectful parents in the superb domestic drama The Rocking Horse Winner (1950); an overprotective father who gets trapped in a murder yarn in Mr. Denning Drives North (1952); a fine Willie Mossop in David Lean's Hobson's Choice (1954); an impressive "against-type" performance as a Russian peasant in War and Peace (1956); a sympathetic police inspector coaxing the trust of a juvenile (his daughter Hayley) who knows the facts of a murder case in the underappreciated Tiger Bay (1959); a rowdy Australian sheep shearer in Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (also 1959); and arguably his finest performance - a Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival for a hard-as-nails army colonel who fears the loss of control over his regiment in Tunes of Glory (1960).
The mid-60s saw an isolated effort as a film director: Gypsy Girl (which starred his other daughter Juliet - who would later find fame on US television in Nanny and the Professor (1970-72); and showed the development of Mills into a charming character actor: the working-class patriarch in the modest comedy The Family Way (starring Hayley as his daughter); and a terrific comic bit as a murderous Lord who tries to kill off his kin for the family inheritance in Bryan Forbes The Wrong Box (all 1966).
By the '70s, his film work slowed considerably, but he was always worth watching: an Oscar winning performance as a mute villager in David Lean¿s study of the Irish troubles Ryan's Daughter (1970); as the influential General Herbert Kitchener Young Winston (1972); and as a driven oil driller in Oklahoma Crude (1973). With the exception of a small role in Sir Richard Attenborough's Ghandi (1982 - where he was credited as Sir John Mills after his knighthood in 1976), and a regrettable cameo in the deplorable Madonna comedy Who's That Girl (1987).
Very little was seen of Mills until recent years, where the most memorable of his appearances included: Old Norway in Hamlet (1996); as the stern chairman opposite Rowan Atkinson in the hit comedy Bean (1997); and - in a daring final role for his proud career - a nonagenarian partygoing cocaine user in Stephen Fry's bawdy social satire Bright Young Things (2003)! Mills is survived by his wife of 64 years, the novelist and playwright Mary Hayley Bell; his daughters, Juliet and Hayley; son, John; and several grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Sir John Mills (1908-2005)
According to a January 1952 Daily Variety news item, independent producer David Lewis first purchased the rights to Graham Greene's novel The End of the Affair and was considering hiring Greene to write the screenplay. The same article mentions Jean Simmons and Gregory Peck as possible stars for the film. A March 1952 Daily Variety item indicates that M-G-M studio head Louis B. Mayer acquired the rights to The End of the Affair from Lewis.
According to a Variety item, producer David E. Rose then acquired the film rights in February 1954 with Columbia set as the distributor. The film was shot on location in London, England. According to director Edward Dmytryk's autobiography, the film was met in the U.S. with "puritanical shock" and in Britain was called a "truly adult film." Columbia released a second version of Greene's story in 1999, starring Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore and Stephan Rea, adapted and directed by Neil Jordan.
Voted One of the Year's Five Best Foreign Films by the 1957 National Board of Review.
Released in United States Spring May 1955
Released in United States Spring May 1955