8 January 2007 | claygoul-1
Quite Good for 1954
I am indebted to Turner Classic Movies for televising this film today. I had not seen it. I am a great admirer of both the novel and the 1999 film version by Neil Jordan. I count it as one of the greatest love stories in literature.
Yes, Van Johnson is miscast as Maurice Bendrix. Still, he is a sincere actor and his work is good considering that Maurice has been "Americanized." I wasn't prepared for the devastating performance by Deborah Kerr. Sarah Miles is one of literature's greatest creations. The "saint" as "whore." Or is it the "whore" as "saint?" I found myself engrossed and deeply moved watching her. It only confirmed my belief that she was with Vivian Leigh one of the two best English actresses in cinema. I love Julianne Moore in the 1999 version and equally love Deborah Kerr in the 1954 version. Sarah Miles is such a great creation that it would be wonderful to see another filmed version and compare the work of three actresses.
Incidentally, "The End of the Affair" is one of those notable works of literature that went from the page to the screen to the opera house (Jake Heggie, composer -- commission by The Houston Grand Opera -- 2004.) I do like the treatment given to the other characters in the 1954 film version. We get to meet Smythe and the priest and Sarah's mother. In the Neil Jordan screenplay, Smythe and the priest are combined into one character, a Catholic priest named Smythe. Sarah's mother is omitted in that version. If I was disappointed in the 1954 version it has to do with the character of Smythe. His character has a horrible facial birthmark that Sarah kisses when she parts from him. In the novel we are told that the birthmark disappeared upon her death. We have no idea that this happens in the 1954 film version. In the 1999 film version, the birthmark is given to Lance, Parkis's son. Also, in the novel, Lance suffers from stomach disorders. We learn that he is cured of that upon Sarah's death. No mention is made of this disorder in the 1954 film version.
Henry Miles, the cuckold, is more tragically portrayed in the 1999 film version. I tip the scales in favor to Stephen Rea whose performance is so true to the gravity of Graham Greene's creation.
A great story of human and Divine love with Maurice and Henry fighting for possession of Sarah's soul and only God receives it.