Philip Sutherland (Clark Gable) is an American reporter stationed in Moscow during the war. He becomes attracted to a Russian ballerina named Marya (Gene Tierney). He soon discovers that the affection from afar has been mutual, and that she has learned English just so she could finally talk to him. They fall hard for each other and marry, spending a happy honeymoon by the water.
But when the war ends, Philip gets transferred out of Russia and Soviet officials won’t let his bride come with him. Along with a friend whose wife has also been forced to stay in Russia, Philip becomes determined to reunite himself with Marya.
The premise of the film is very solid, and at times heartbreaking. There are a number of achingly sad moments, the most impactful of which come not from Gable but from his friend, whose wife is threatened with a work camp internment if she doesn’t divorce him.
At the same time, the plot is full of interest and drama. A decent level of suspense is built. It almost becomes spy-like as Philip and his friend plot to save their wives in a covert operation. And there’s even a bit of humor mixed in as well, usually in the form of jabs toward Russia.
The pacing of the film is fairly well-done. It’s very smooth in the beginning, becoming slower in the film’s mid-portion but with continuing, intermittent periods of suspense.
The couple of Philip and Marya is written very sweetly in the beginning. The dialogue between them is endearing and very cute. However, it is hard to buy Gable and Tierney as a couple. He seems a bit patronizing, and almost fatherly toward her, which makes the beginning of their relationship awkward to watch.
Thankfully, this doesn’t last for the entire film. Once they become separated, it is easier to believe them as a couple, since Gable isn’t throwing glances at Tierney very similar to those that he threw at Rhett Butler’s daughter in Gone with the Wind anymore. By the end of the film, the viewer supports them and wants Philip’s plan to work out for the best.
A satisfying but somewhat surprising ending wraps the film up with a bang, and is certainly the most gripping part of the film. Never Let Me Go is quite the solid drama, though it does drag a bit in the middle and isn’t 100% successful in getting the viewer on its lead couple’s side.
The score: 2.8/5