Sunday, April 22, 2012

Waterloo Bridge

In the opening moments of Mervyn LeRoy's Waterloo Bridge, an aging soldier remembers a conversation he had with a woman. A quick smile appears on his face, but sorrow soon seeps in and his eyes begin to water. Who is this man and the woman he remembers?

The man is Roy Cronin (Robert Taylor). The woman is Myra Lester (Vivien Leigh), a ballet dancer he falls in love with almost instantly. Their first meeting they fall in love. Their second day they plan to get married. The third day Roy gets shipped off. Myra receives news that Roy was killed in action, and she slips into a deep depression.

Leigh is one of the undisputed greats of Hollywood's Golden Age. Taylor was more recognized as a movie star than as an actor, which is a shame since he was very good in roles like Waterloo Bridge. Seeing them together on screen emphasizes not just that they were very attractive people (they were) but also showing they were talented too.

What's interesting is that the film doesn't rely just on Leigh and Taylor's ability to say lines with conviction. It also relies on their ability to say anything without even speaking speaking, mainly through facial expressions and body language. Three moments in particular: the hope on Roy's face after first meeting Myra; the shock seeping into her face when she sees him very much alive; and the loving, wordless exchanges between them as the waltz to "Auld Lang Syne".

Waterloo Bridge is fantastic. In the wrong hands, this would've been the typical melodrama of the era. Instead, LeRoy makes sure that the romance cliches are absent, and that Leigh and Taylor don't hit a false note at any point. Safe to say all three succeeded.

My Rating: *****


  1. Isn't this such a great romantic movie? Vivien Leigh was just wonderful in this.

  2. It really is spectacular. I reckon this would be an awesome double feature with Black Swan (but probably an extremely depressing one). And Vivien Leigh was awesome, like always.


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