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redriver

Waterloo Bridge vs. Waterloo Bridge

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I watched James Whale's 1931 film last night. It's been so long since I've seen the later version, I can't make an accurate comparison. But I have a vague recollection of some fairly significant differences. In particular, the conclusion. Isn't there a note of irony in the 1940 telling, while Whale's film ends rather abruptly? If somebody will PM me about this, so as not to spoil it for others, I would appreciate it.

 

In general, neither film is terribly high on my list. A production of horror maestros Whale and Carl Laemmle promises some dark and striking visuals, and this one delivers. War is ugly and terrifying, as is adeptly depicted in the bombing scenes. In contrast, a Hollywood romance featuring Vivian Leigh and Robert Taylor has appeal to the heart and the handkerchief.

 

The story, in both cases, is merely OK. Star crossed lovers, society and circumstance against them, attempt to beat the odds. My goal is neither to praise nor bury it. Merely to alleviate my curiosity about the differences.

 

Thanks,

 

RR

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I've never seen the James Whale version - would it be a pre-code then , with that production date? (1931). I wonder if that means they could be more clear about what the dancer character is doing to make a living?

 

*Waterloo Bridge* - the Leigh/Taylor version, which I have seen - is frustrating for me to watch. Why were people so weird about stuff like that back then? I've seen so many old movies where the woman, almost always for understandable reasons, becomes a prostitute, or was one in the past, before she met the man she loves. She decides she is " not worthy" of the man (regardless of how many other intimate encounters the man may have had ! But of course we're never told anything about that, because it doesn't matter ) and either rejects him, pretending she no longer loves him, or offs herself.

I know that's how people, both male and female, seemed to think back then, but it's such a waste, of love and of life, that I find it hard to accept.

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I've never seen the 1940 version and really don't care to. The earlier one is pre-Code, stars Mae Clarke and is directed by James Whale. That's good enough for me.

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> Ok misswonderly . . . I'll do my best . . . Here goes:

 

There has always been a certain difficulty in accepting the issue of character 'Myra" from "Waterloo Bridge" becoming a prostitute in the 1940 version. In the original play by Robert E. Sherwood, she was simply an uneducated chorus girl. By the time of 1931, in first film version, she was still made a ballerina, but with a bit of gustiness and being realistically crude. The idea or original theme was of a story where two people, from different and opposite sides of the social ladder, meet and end up into a heated and doomed love affair. In the original play and somewhat done in the 1931 film, "Myra" is reckless to the point that it's very similar to the classic novel and later on a successful film in its own right, "Of Human Bondage" by W. Somerset Maugham. This is what I've always believed was the intent of director James Whale for the 1931 version.

 

Comes 1940 and beautiful Vivien Leigh, fresh from her triumph in "Gone With The Wind," MGM couldn't resist the idea of taking advantage of her sudden raise to international movie fame. So, MGM brought the property from Universal Pictures. Naturally, with the Hayes code now into effect and Vivien such an extravagant star, the whole original concept of the story had to be cleaned up. The studio simply banked on the idea that most of the general public that was familiar with the story would accept a new and different direction, but basically utilizing the same known characters. The biggest of all change that was obviously done to accommodate Vivien's rather plush image was to make 'Myra" more of a refined looking, intelligent lovely girl, pushing away any hint of having lived a rugged life from the dark, dingy streets of London.

 

It's this plot change of the major female character in 1940 that in a practical sense of thinking doesn't apply to make one see her fall from grace and turn towards a life of prostitution and then finally leading to suicide. The 1931 film version kills "Myra" off by an accident and not anything so melodramatic. Originally, the whole point to the male lead character of "Roy" is that he is both sexually and emotionally na?ve, making him easy prey to a woman of loose virtues. This wouldn't the case with MGM's 1940 version! After all, Robert Taylor was one of the studio's biggest of all stars and MGM wasn't about to make him look like a ridiculously lonesome guy and a victim of any ridicule. Let's face it, the MGM version is a watered down, decontaminated, lushly produced motion picture.

 

But wait! Let's not forget about the 1956 MGM remake entitled "Gaby." It starred lovely Leslie Caron and a dashing John Kerr as the two lovers. However, and this is one of my very, very big, typical: HOWEVER'S! . . . There's a happy ending in this third version!! Need I explain? Anyway, I've been wondering over the years, why doesn't TCM simply air all three versions (back to back) in order by year? This would allow the fans to simply compare and decide which one of the three makes any good sense or has what would be termed as any reasonable "reality."

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> {quote:title=MovieProfessor wrote:}{quote}

......

>

> But wait! Let's not forget about the 1956 MGM remake entitled "Gaby." It starred lovely Leslie Caron and a dashing John Kerr as the two lovers. However, and this is one of my very, very big, typical: HOWEVER'S! . . . There's a happy ending in this third version!! Need I explain? Anyway, I've been wondering over the years, why doesn't TCM simply air all three versions (back to back) in order by year? This would allow the fans to simply compare and decide which one of the three makes any good sense or has what would be termed as any reasonable "reality."

 

 

Movie Professor, that would be a very good idea for TCM to run them back to back to back.

 

They could do that for a week, One night run all the versions of the Three Godfathers, Backstreet, etc, etc, etc...

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> {quote:title=PrinceSaliano wrote:}{quote}

> I've never seen the 1940 version and really don't care to. The earlier one is pre-Code, stars Mae Clarke and is directed by James Whale. That's good enough for me.

 

I've seen the 40 version...it was awight. But I loved the earlier one for all the reasons you mentioned. Mae Clarke---hotcha!!! James Whale--groove. And pre-code, all the way baby!

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I have seen both versions and as a Vivien Leigh fan, I do enjoy the 1940 version, but as a pre-code fan, I also enjoy the 1931 version and probably prefer it.

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The Whale film leaves NO DOUBT as to the occupation the former chorus girls have taken up. But the most obviously pre-code feature is the obligatory "women in their underwear" scene. "Hi, girls! What are you doing?" Oh, just standing around in our underwear. Doesn't everybody?

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> {quote:title=redriver wrote:}{quote}

> The Whale film leaves NO DOUBT as to the occupation the former chorus girls have taken up. But the most obviously pre-code feature is the obligatory "women in their underwear" scene. "Hi, girls! What are you doing?" Oh, just standing around in our underwear. Doesn't everybody?

 

HAHA!!! Love it!!! Yes, so true! And OMG, yes, Mae Clarke!!! Be still my beating heart!

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> {quote:title=redheadedwoman wrote:}{quote}

> I have seen both versions and as a Vivien Leigh fan, I do enjoy the 1940 version, but as a pre-code fan, I also enjoy the 1931 version and probably prefer it.

 

I like the '31 version better too, and it seems more realistic to me. When the low class chorus girls come out of the dive where they are working, they make some comments about the ladies who are walking the streets, letting the audience know that these girls have been in this profession before themselves.

 

But the Vivian Leigh character, going from a high class ballerina to a streetwalker, is completely unbelievable. This film was restricted too much by the Code and really couldn't tell the story in a realistic manner.

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Hey, your review is very good, and you seem to have the same feeling about the first two films that I do. And I agree with you.

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A problem I have with *Waterloo Bridge* which has nothing to do with the plot: Robert Taylor. I don't know why, I can never believe this guy. I wonder if Laurence Olivier (who was also Leigh's husband at the time, I think) had played the part, I might have liked it better.

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I dunno if it's that...Laurence Olivier is good -looking too, at least he was back then. I have never once found Robert Taylor convincing in any role I've seen him play. I just saw him in *Conspirator* (with Elizabeth Taylor) the other day, and it was the same thing. But I don't want to de-rail this from a *Waterloo Bridge* thread to a "Can Robert Taylor Act?" thread.

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I like Robert Taylor a lot, but there was always something about his voice that made him sound like a radio announcer reading dramatic lines. Like he really wasn't the person he was playing, but a radio announcer trying to play a part.

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the Vivian Leigh character, going from a high class ballerina to a streetwalker

 

I'll never be hungry again!

 

 

 

To Red-headed Woman,

 

I think I have a video by that name, but haven't watched it yet. Harlow? Something about a corporation? I got it from the library. Come to think of it, it's the same DVD as WATERLOO BRIDGE!

 

Edited by: redriver on Apr 14, 2011 7:40 PM

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> {quote:title=redriver wrote:}{quote}

> the Vivian Leigh character, going from a high class ballerina to a streetwalker

>

> I'll never be hungry again!

 

A girl that good looking, and that high class, in London, would have had a bunch of rich old men wanting her to marry them, and she could have done what a lot of good looking young poor women do, which is marry money, no matter how old the husband is. In fact, the older the better, 'cause he won't be around very long, and she'll wind up with his money.

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