Favorite things about… Waterloo Bridge

The favorite film:
Waterloo Bridge, a 1940 wartime melodrama from MGM, directed by Mervyn LeRoy

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

The synopsis:
Just as England is headed toward war again, a British officer (Roy) decides to visit Waterloo Bridge. Here, he reminisces on a night just before he left to fight in World War I. On that night he met a beautiful ballerina (Myra) during an air raid, and the two quickly took a liking to each other. But when he had to leave for war, her life in London headed on a downward spiral beginning with being kicked out of her dance company. Things got worse when she received news that her soldier had been killed in action — but he was really alive, and would soon return to London.

The cast:
Vivien Leigh as Myra
Robert Taylor as Roy Cronin
Lucile Watson as Lady Margaret Cronin
Virginia Field as Kitty
Maria Ouspenskaya as Madame Olga

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Fun facts:

  • According to IMDb, in China, this is one of the most popular classic Hollywood films.
  • This was Vivien Leigh’s first film to be released after Gone With the Wind.
  • Both Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor considered this film a favorite from their own filmographies.
  • Though she ended up being very proud of the film, Vivien originally hoped that Laurence Olivier would star alongside her, and was upset when Taylor was cast instead.
  • The film is based on a play of the same name by Robert E. Sherwood, which also served as the basis for a 1931 film.

Favorite things:

  • The music, which is perfectly matched to the film’s action and does a lot to bolster the film’s emotional impact from the very beginning.
  • Roy being puzzled by Myra’s insistence in picking up her good luck charm after she drops her purse during the air raid
  • The fact that they act so nonchalant about having to run to the underground station to hide from the air rad — shows how common these must have been, how they were a fact of life in London during the war
  • Myra giving Roy her good luck charm
  • Myra’s face when she sees Roy in the audience at her ballet performance
  • Myra and her friend/fellow dancer Kitty gossiping on stage
  • Myra’s friend unsuccessfully attempting to pass her a note from Roy during the Madame’s critique of their performance, and Madame making Myra read the letter out loud
  • Roy telling Myra he’ll remember her for the rest of his life
  • The “Auld Lang Syne” dance scene
  • Myra scrambling to get ready and run outside when Roy shows up at her boarding house
  • Roy asking Myra for her vitals so he can hurriedly get permission from his superior for them to marry
  • Myra skipping her show to say goodbye to Roy. This may not be the most logical choice having only known the man for a day or two, but it sure as heck makes for an adorable/sad movie scene.
  • “Auld Lang Syne” playing again when Myra watches Roy’s train pull away
  • Kitty standing up to the Madame when Myra is kicked out of the dance troupe
  • Myra being so sure that things are going to get better… only for them to get worse and worse.
  • “Auld Lang Syne” playing AGAIN when Roy returns and sees Myra at the station
  • Roy being so sweet to Myra after they meet at the station, and she’s feeling so broken… ALL OF THE TEARS FOR THIS ILL-FATED COUPLE.
  • Vivien does such a wonderful job of portraying Myra’s conflicted feelings after Roy returns — she’s elated to see him again but feels she must lie to him about what happened while he was away at war. Her use of facial expression in this film is phenomenal.
  • [HEY, HERE’S A BIG SPOILER] The film is very thought-provoking in terms of societal values and taboos. Myra feels so guilty about having to resort to less-than-favorable means of money-making that she feels she must die to make up for it. She feels she can never truly be accepted or be worthy of Roy’s affection because of her past. [NO MORE SPOILER!]
  • And societal issues aside, the entire weepy film leads up to an incredibly emotional conclusion. I encounter a small battle with my tear ducts every time I watch this.
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
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12 thoughts on “Favorite things about… Waterloo Bridge

  1. YES YES YES I’ve always loved this film! It’s so moody, melodramatic (in a good way) and touching. It gets me every single time *pass the tissues*

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    1. It captures me like I’m watching it for the first time every time I re-watch it. Such a great film. Glad to hear you enjoy it, too! :)

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  2. I’ve never even heard of this one, Lindsey! I’ll have to track it down…it reminds me of ‘The Clock’, which I really liked, and would recommend if you haven’t seen it.

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    1. The Clock is one of my favorite Judy Garland films. I wouldn’t really compare the two — The Clock is very sweet, while Waterloo Bridge tells a more melancholy story. Both wonderful films, though. You’ve got to see this one!

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