Monday, 14 January 2013

Review - Random Harvest (1942 - Dir. Mervyn LeRoy)

John Smith (Ronald Colman) is a John Doe character, who lost his memory fighting in World War I. He is in an asylum and in a kind-hearted way is subjected to meeting people who might be his parents. One night, he escapes. And embarks on a murderous rampage. Ah, sorry... wrong film.

He meets a lady, Paula (Greer Garson). Funnily enough he falls in love. But what follows isn't as predictable as you might think. Black and white romantic film: shouldn't be too hard to work out what going to happen. But no, it's no Avatar. In fact, it's pretty darned twisty. At 126 minutes, it's not the shortest of films but it holds the interest throughout.

The acting goes a long way to help with this. Ronald Colman transforms from a stuttering amnesiac to a confident writer, and then to something entirely different. Highly impressive. Greer Garson also has to play her character in different ways and is believable throughout. The only blip in the cast is an initially irritatingly plucky Susan Peters as Kitty. Fortunately she loses some of her pluck as she ages.

This brings us to a minor issue of suspension of disbelief: to think that John Smith (Colman was 51 at the time) would be looked upon favourably by a 21 year is a tad preposterous to say the least. Although he was loaded, so maybe not. I might be interested in a 51 year old bloke if he had the money to buy me a massive Scalextric set.

One thing that I really liked about this film was that once it had reached its natural conclusion, it finished. No messing about tagging extra little bits on there, just cut to The End. Great stuff. I even had a little cheer when it did it. 

It does lack some pace in parts but it is still well worth sticking with. So, if you want something relaxing, yet unpredictable (for the most part) give it a go. Plus, my Gran liked it.

If you like this you could also try:
Mrs Miniver, Since You Went Away, Lost Horizon.

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