The End of the Affair (Edward Dmytryk, 1955)

This is my contribution to the Beyond the Cover blogathon, hosted by Liz of Now, Voyaging and Kristina of Speakeasy, which is focusing on film adaptations of novels. Please visit and read the other entries.

the end of the affair 6Graham Greene’s short novel The End of the Affair is a tale of love, jealousy,  pain and Catholic guilt, set against the background of the London Blitz. I’ve read the book many times over the years, since first falling in love with it as a teenager, and have never failed to be gripped by Greene’s haunting prose – but for some reason I’d never seen a film adaptation until now. I decided to watch the British 1955 film starring Van Johnson, Deborah Kerr and Peter Cushing, and found it captures quite a lot of the novel’s disturbing power, even though the censors of the day watered down some elements. Greene later described it in a 1984 Guardian film lecture, included in The Graham Greene Film Reader, as the “least unsatisfactory” adaptation of one of his religious novels.

The film is available on DVD from Columbia Classics in both region 1 and region 2/UK, with different covers. The UK sleeve captures the dark and brooding atmosphere of the film far better than the sweet colour photo on the US sleeve. The UK disc is a barebones presentation, but does have a good quality print. There is also a region 1 double DVD which combines this film with the 1999 remake starring Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore. I’m hoping to see and compare that version soon. The movie can also be streamed via Amazon in the US.

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The Left Hand of God (1955)

I’m not quite sure what I expected when I decided to watch this Humphrey Bogart movie, made late in his career. But one thing I definitely didn’t bargain for was a scene with Bogie at the piano, dueting with Gene Tierney – and with a large group of children sweetly singing along for good measure!

Humphrey Bogart and Gene Tierney

Humphrey Bogart and Gene Tierney

That scene has to be the most unexpected moment in this film. However, the whole role is something of a change for Bogart, who spends most of the movie wearing a dog-collar. It seems he has been improbably cast as a teetotal Catholic missionary, Father O’Shea, who arrives at a remote outpost in a China torn apart by civil war and revolution.

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