Saturday, 2 January 2016

BREAKING HEARTS BEFORE HE STOPPED THEM: CUSHING AND THE END OF THE AFFAIR


"Oh God, don't let him be dead. Give him that chance. I'll love him, I'll do anything, only just let him be alive. I'll never quarrel with him again or make him unhappy. I'll be sweet and kind and good. I... I will be good. I'll live as you would want me to live. I'll give Maurice up forever. Only just let him be alive! Just let him be alive!"

video
Cushing really does give a superb performance.
Check out this emotion packed short clip 

The film 'THE END OF THE AFFAIR' (1954) is based on Graham Greene's complex novel and directed by Edward Dmytryk, who made several highly regarded film noir thrillers, including Murder My Sweet and Crossfire and came to England because of the anti -Communist blacklisting in America.





The film was produced by David Lewis, the long time lover of James Whale. Whether Lewis remembered the handsome stand-in for Louis Hayward in Whale's 1939 'Man In The Iron Mask' or not, this was certainly an important part for Cushing to land, oppersite Hollywood star Van Johnson and Deborah Kerr.


Greene's book was an examination of his own faith and, although it was not known at the time, was a roman-a-clef for the novelist's own adulterous affair with Catharine Walston. The film is shot through with a tone of pessimism and disappointment, and in the end all but collapses under a cartload of Catholic guilt.


There's a rather flamboyant piano score too, much given to melodramatic bashing on the keyboard at particularly emotional moments. Johnson is woefully miscast - he does his usual flat turn and seems not to understand the material. Greene, who vetoed Gregory Peck for the lead was appalled at the choice of Johnson and noted that the actor chewed gum during the love scenes, when not in shot. Cushing however, achieves a kind of brilliance with bhis portrayal of the wronged husband, a man with 'a mind as neatly creased as his trousers' and it is sobering to think that but for 'Nineteen Eighty Four' (BBC 1954) he might have carried on playing this kind of repressed individual for as long as it was needed.


The plot of 'The End of the Affair' is fragmented, and told in a series of flashbacks. During the Second World War, American Miles Bendrix (Johnson) is writing a book on the British civil service when he meets Henry Miles (Cushing), who works in service pensions. Miles presents  Bendrix to his devoted wife, Sarah (Deborah Kerr)  - and soon Bendrix and Sarah are having an affair. (Although what they actually do is left terribly vague) After an air-raid, Sarah suddenly becomes cold to Bendrix and returns to Miles. The rest of the film reveals her reasons for her sudden change of heart.


Though stuffy and pompous, Miles is genuinely in love with Sarah. As time passes and her behaviour remains erratic, he considers employing a private detective to investigate her, but ultimately cannot.


'They always say, don't they, that the husband is the last to know...'


Miles is equally unable to answer to his wife's questions about her faith. When she asks her husband if he prays, he is at a loss. 'I was taught to. In church, whenever I go . . . Really, this isn't the sort of thing to go into over a cup of tea!'


Towards the end of the film, Miles is a man on the point of despair and Cushing's performance is deeply affecting. 'I know I'm dull for you, Sarah.... frightfully dull. . .' he sobs. 'But I couldn't start again. It's too late, do you see?' As Sarah succumbs to a fatal fever, Cushing descends the stairs with a blank expression, unable to comprehend. It is another meticulous and disciplined performance, and Deborah Kerr is a graceful and generous co-star.

This review was taken from Peter Cushing: A Life In Film by David Miller. Available for purchase by clicking this link 
Miller's book a a triple thumbs up from PCAS  upon it's release in 2013 and is highly recommended.

Edit Graphics and Images here: Marcus Brooks


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