"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."
Better than the remake
firstname.lastname@example.org | Baton Rouge, La USA | 08/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Strong Sarah, weak Bendrix
L. W. Barnes | Alabama, United States | 04/16/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Michelle Holland | Texas | 09/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like classic movies that are depressing and melodramatic (not necessarily a bad word), then boy are you in the right place! I LOVE this film! It showcases Deborah Kerr and Van Johnson at their finest. This is a far cry from the musicals for which Johnson is usually recognized. The cinematography is exceptional as well and really captures the essence of London during World War II."
Great screen adaptation of a great novel
C. J. Leach | Midwest, United States | 03/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a superb 1955 film adaptation of Graham Greene's moving, The End of the Affair - one of the greatest novels by one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century.
When possible, I prefer not to mention "the book" when reviewing a movie, but when the elephant in the room is Graham Greene's novel, I suppose the comparison is unavoidable. I also don't like to give away the plot in a review, and I won't do it here either.
This is a story set in the WWII London suburbs and involves an adulterous affair involving an American novelist (Van Johnson) and the wife (the lovely Deborah Kerr) of a semi-important government functionary (the distinguished Peter Cushing). The screenplay was very nicely done, but the complex plot in The End of the Affair required much of Greene's book to be left out. However, I was delighted, here and there, to see the inclusion of little details and nuance from the novel.
As you might expect of Graham Greene, God also plays an active role in this story. I won't say any more in that regard except that He receives rather short shrift in the film compared to the book.
Deborah Kerr nailed her role. So did Peter Cushing in his understated manner. Van Johnson was appropriately unlikeable, but never really got a handle on his character in the way that the other leads did. He was a weak link. Excellent supporting cast (John Mills was outstanding as the quirky detective. The others were British unknowns to me, but quite talented).
I don't know the usual best formula for the order in which to watch-the-movie/read-the-book. In this case, may I suggest that you watch the film first. It is great and stands on its own merit. Then, if you are a reader . . . read the book. You will be stunned."