Penny Green is a quiet English village, home to Mark Sabre (Walter Pidgeon) an idealistic author and publisher not-quite-happily married to Mabel (Angela Lansbury).
Mabel is a bit of a town gossip, but she and her family may become the subject of the rumor mill when Nona Tybar (Deborah Kerr), a former flame of Mark’s, returns to town.
Mabel is unhappy with the news of Nona’s return, but Mark is absolutely delighted. Though both he and Nona are married to other people, they still have feelings for one another, and her return brings hope of a happier future for Mark. Will he and Nona rekindle their romance, or will they remain trapped in their respective unhappy marriages?
If Winter Comes was directed by Victor Saville. The screenplay was written by Marguerite Roberts and Arthur Wimperis, based on a novel by A. S. M. Hutchinson.
This film takes a little while to really get going, painting a quaint and simple portrait of English life in the beginning. Unfortunately, even when the plot picks up, it tracks quite a predictable path with its love triangle and other melodrama. The film takes place in wartime, but is so wrapped up in personal dramas that I hardly noticed!
I feel like I would enjoy this film a lot more if someone other than Walter Pidgeon was the leading man. I don’t dislike the actor at all, but his chemistry with Kerr isn’t quite intense enough to make the viewer feel strongly about them ending up together, and his performance is somewhat shallow in emotion.
Kerr does give a lovely performance individually, playing a woman with a lot of inner turmoil over how her life has panned out, and a lot of regrets over her marriage to a man she didn’t love.
Aside from Kerr, Angela Lansbury is a stand-out of the cast, offering up a great supporting performance as Pidgeon’s grumpy second-choice wife (though she’s a bit under-utilized). Janet Leigh also appears in an early role and has probably the most emotional character arc, delivering a heart-tugging performance, though her accent is spotty.
Though it has a few good performances, If Winter Comes is a fairly underwhelming watch. It picks up a bit as it moves toward its conclusion, but mostly makes all of the expected moves and is quite dull. With such a great cast, it had potential, but the film just doesn’t have enough heart to grip the viewer.