A lot of movies that I watch are quite forgettable. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them or think the acting was bad, but once they’re over, I’m not compelled to see them again, and they fall off my radar indefinitely. Then there are films that I can watch over and over again, and never get sick of them. These are the films I consider my favorites. It doesn’t always mean they’re the best films ever made, but they always compel me to return for more. David Lean’s 1945 film Brief Encounter is one such film.
Last night, Brief Encounter was screened at the Linwood Dunn Theatre in Hollywood (part of the Mary Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study) as part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ tribute to Noel Coward. I’ve mentioned a few times how fun it is to see one’s favorite old films on the big screen. AMPAS screened the new BFI restoration, and it looked beautiful–very crisp and clear. Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard were amazing as usual, and I found myself picking up on little things in the film that I never noticed when watching it at home on DVD.
Going to an AMPAS screening is interesting because there are all types of people there, and they’re all film nerds, like me! It’s fun to people watch. There were two elderly ladies sitting behind us–one of them was British–and they were talking about all kinds of movies that they love. I really wanted to turn around and ask, “Do you like Vivien Leigh?” but then I got shy and reminded myself that probably not everyone is as big of a fan as I am. But I do remember when I was in England the first time, old people loved talking to me about Vivien and Laurence Olivier, and a lot of them had stories of seeing one of them out and about. So you never know…
Aside from the obnoxious woman sitting catty corner behind us who would not be quiet the entire time, it was quite an experience! Brief Encounter is a film I think everyone who likes old movies should see because it’s a great example of top quality movie-making. The performances (including the supporting ones by Stanley Holloway and Joyce Carrey), the camerawork, the music and especially the dialogue combine perfectly to make a wonderfully understated melodrama.