Saturday, 20 November 2010

Random Hall, North Random, Surrey.

 Today I watched the first film that ever actually made me sob, Random Harvest. The whole fiasco was not helped by the fact that I am in Greer Garson obsessive mode at the moment and she plays the lead. I sat at the computer (for it was in 10 minute sections on YouTube) and started the film. I had tears in my eyes the first moment I saw Ronald Colman. I cannot let this slip by without a review.

Random Harvest:

  • Greer Garson as "Paula Ridgeway"/Margaret Hanson
  • Ronald Colman as Charles Rainier
  • Susan Peters as Kitty
Charles Rainier has been put in an asylum in a town called Melbridge because he was gassed in The First World War and became shell shocked and lost his memory. He has trouble speaking so can't be let into society until someone claims him. On the night that the war ended in 1918 he decided to leave the asylum and make a life for himself. While in a tobacco shop he bumps into the beautiful showgirl Paula.
She follows him and gets attached to him. She finds herself feeling more and more close to him as he learns to speak, and eventually falls in love with him. She calls him Smithy and the two become very close and soon move into a cottage in the country. A now aspiring writer, after hearing a letter that confirmed his first sale of an article, he asks her to marry him and she says yes.
They have a baby boy, but only a few day's after his arrival Smithy is called to Liverpool to discuss a permanent job at a newspaper there. He is hit by a car and when he awakes he can remember everything of his past, but nothing of his son and Paula. He is part of a wealthy family that live in Random Hall, North Random, Surrey. Years later a woman named Margaret Hanson turns up to apply to be his secretary. She tells him that she was married once and had a son, but they are both dead now (as soon as we see her it is obvious she is Paula). Now a business whizz, he falls in love and gets engaged to a distant non-blood relative but she feels in him that he still has a love for someone he knew before, even if he doesn't remember. In an attempt to discover his past, he goes to Liverpool and is followed by Ms. Hanson. He becomes dependant on her for help. They go to the hotel where he stayed to see if they still have his suitcase. They do, but he dismisses it saying "I would have been ashamed to be seen in such rags." Paula is devastated but can't say anything in case he doesn't believe her or dismisses her like the suitcase, a neglected and forgotten memory. He asks her to marry him (again, though he doesn't know it) for mainly organisational purposes. She agrees, but is soon devastated by his lack of emotion toward her. She goes away to South America and stops by at their old cottage on the way.

Meanwhile, he has had his memory jogged by a visit to Melbridge cable works, and ends up at the cottage just before Paula/Margaret (what is her real name?) and she says from behind him, "Smithy?" they then embrace, and all the while she is muttering, "Smithy...Smithy...Smithy..."

The Review:
My top ten list is forever being juggled about as you know, but it is rare for a new film to get into it. There is a first time for everything. This film has knocked Jezebel out of my top ten and replaced it. It is one of the most magical films I think I have ever seen. Greer Garson is enchanting as Paula/Margaret and Ronald Colman is so upsetting as Smithy (so what if he is called Charles - to me he will always be Smithy.). I am so upset they didn't win Oscars, but Greer did for Mrs. Miniver (instead of Bette Davis as Charlotte Vale in Now Voyager, but I really couldn't chose between the two.). What a great year! It's up there with 1950 (Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve)! It had Now Voyager, Mrs. Miniver, and Random Harvest. Wow. The performances from all concerned are directed to perfection by Mervyn LeRoy, especially the part of Smithy, which was such a hard to get right.
Bette Davis and Greer Garson together. They must have liked each other, I have several pics of them together.
Just wow. Greer Garson is just so lovely, and one of the best actresses ever. And where do I even start with Ronald Colman? I can't imagine any other actor playing Smithy. He too is an amazing actor, here's a link to my review of  The Talk Of The Town which he is in.

{2nd April 2011, I just re-read this following a link from my traffic statistics and was shocked to see how little there was about Ronald Colman in it! So I changed bits as necessary. Hope you enjoyed it!}



Libby said...

Sounds like an amazing film! Im headed right over to watch it on youtube.

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