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The End of the Affair

Deborah Kerr , Van Johnson , Edward Dmytryk    DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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For its first minutes, The End of the Affair looks like it's going to be a standard "two tortured souls who know they shouldn't be having an affair but are going to keep on doing it anyway" movie. Fortunately, it gets more interesting than that. Van Johnson plays Maurice Bendrix, an American author in wartime England. While attending a cocktail party of noble civil servant Henry Miles (Peter Cushing), he accidentally catches a glimpse of Henry's wife, Sarah (Deborah Kerr), kissing another man. Fascinated, he arranges to meet her, and the two start an affair. Maurice, unable to get Sarah's previous infidelity out of his mind, gets clingy and suspicious; Sarah tells him they can't meet anymore and goes back to Henry, and that's that. Or is it? Maurice is unable to let go of Sarah, and as he investigates he finds out there was far more to the end of their affair than he thought. Kerr has by far the most difficult job of the film, playing several layers of deception as the coolly efficient civil servant's wife with more than one unexpected passion hiding just below the surface. Peter Cushing also does quietly good work, touchingly playing what could have been a thankless Wronged Husband role. Indeed, most of the usual standards are fleshed out in surprising ways in this strange and earnest little movie. Like its heroine, The End of the Affair takes a grim surface story and gradually reveals the unexpected passions underneath. (Based on the novel by Graham Greene and remade in 1999 with Julianne Moore and Ralph Fiennes.) --Ali Davis

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong Sarah, weak Bendrix April 16 2004
By L.M.W.
I recently watched this film, about a year after I'd seen the 1999 version. Of course, both films have their own shortcomings and merits, but here is my opinions on the earlier version. Deborah Kerr's performance was good, and she beautifully portrayed a woman torn between her unsatiable passions and her search for truth and God. However, Van Johnson's role as Bendrix was totally ineffective; when he was crying, I felt like the few tears he produced were too forced and unfelt. His performance cannot compare to the brilliant acting of Ralph Fiennes in the later version, but I preferred Deborah Kerr's Sarah to Julianne Moore's. Kerr lent authenticity to her role, something that I think Moore failed to accomplish. (As a side note, even though she is a talented actress, I abhorred the plethora of Moore's flesh in the 1999 version. We don't have to see borderline soft porn to understand that Bendrix and Sarah are having an illicit affair. Please.)
Overall, 1955's version is well worth a watch, just imagine Ralph Fiennes as Bendrix instead of Van Johnson. Had they gotten a better actor in 1955, like Cary Grant or Gregory Peck, this film version would have been much more convincing and entertaining. But as is, it's a farily decent wartime love story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting film Jan. 22 2002
I always say it, it's no use comparing books to films, nor comparing nineteen forties or fifties movies with current releases, for many reasons, not only because of limitations due to the Production Code, which reigned supreme in those decades. This is a fine, interesting movie, with a top performance by that grand lady of the 50's, Deborah Kerr, who excelled in this kind of roles (one can remember "From Here to Eternity" and "Bonjour Tristesse", among others). Also, very good performances by the supporting-all-english-cast, most notably Peter Cushing and John Mills, and good acting by previous-boy-next-door Van Johnson, much in the way of his role in "The Last Time I Saw Paris" with Liz Taylor, but even better. I saw this movie for the first time when I was a kid and couldn't fully understand many of its implications, anyway loving it. In spite of the restrictions imposed by the aforementioned P. Code to the sexual aspects of the main characters relationship, it's pretty adult material in regard to their inner conflicts and contradictions. Serious viewing. Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not a perfect movie, but darned interesting.... Aug. 27 2000
By A Customer
A tale of the tension between faith and doubt in love and later in religion. Van Johnson is, mmm, adequate as the male lead, Deborah Kerr's as good as I've ever seen her. The real gems are the supporting cast: the angry atheist, the dourly kindly priest, and above all Sir John Mills as the comical detective and his friend Peter Cushing in a brilliant, underrated performance as the cuckolded husband. Try it, you might like it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Affair in a Straightjacket Aug. 23 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This well-meaning adaptation of Graham Greene's novel about love, faith and mysticism suffers from being a product of its time. The sterile conformity of the 1950s apparently did not allow the full glory of this story to be brought to the screen. While it avoids the central pitfall of its 1999 successor, that of Sarah and Bendrix renewing the physical aspects of their affair, the '55 version greatly plays down Sarah's great desparation for love, understates Bendrix's jealousy and atheism to almost non-existence, and completely removes the mystical aspects of Sarah's conversion to belief. This last omission is so glaring that it calls the entire effort into question. Why we don't hear Sarah telling Bendrix "Love doesn't end just because we don't see each other" or "People go on loving God all their lives without seeing Him" is baffling. Not even one of Sarah's after-death miracles is depicted or even hinted at. In the end, this story about a woman's journey from adultery to sainthood turns out to be little more than a 1950s soap opera--and not so moving a one at that. The talented perfomers who labored in this straightjacket--Deborah Kerr and Van Johnson--deserved better. So did Graham Greene enthusiasts and movie-goers in general.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Better than the remake Aug. 14 2000
I much preferred this version of the Grahme Greene classic to the newer version with Julianna Moore and Ralph Fienes. That movie was far too graphic for my tastes and the story was so confusing that I was often completely lost. In any case, in the 1999 version, I found I did not like the characters, therefore, I could not care less what happened to them. In this version with Deborah Kerr and Van Johnson, I could follow the story line and find a sympathy for the characters. It was almost like "aha, so that is what it was all about." Sort of shows that today's graphic realism can ruin a really good story. I like the old way better...leaving a little mystery and something to the imagination.
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