#AMonthWithoutTheCode2020 #6: “The End of the Affair” from 1955

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August: #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020!

#6 – The End of the Affair (1955)

End of the Affair, The 1955 Original Lobby Card #FFF-61404 |  FFFMovieposters.com

Cast:

Deborah Kerr, Van Johnson, and Peter Cushing

Production Notes:

Director: Edward Dmytryk, Producer: David Lewis, Executive Producer: David E. Rose, Production Company: Coronado Productions, Released by Columbia Pictures

Premise:

During World War II, a novelist meets a British public servant for research on a book but falls in love with his beautiful wife. When, after a terrible bombing, she mysteriously ends their affair, he has no way of knowing the deep reason for her decision.

Un-Codishness:

Since this movie is from 1955, one would assume that it is a Shurlock Era film, and, technically, it is. However, the more appropriate un-Code classification is foreign film, since this movie was a British production. Although American films lost no time in straying from Breen Era standards after Joseph Breen’s retirement in 1954, they didn’t achieve this level of deviance from the Code until about 1958. Foreign films like this had a head start, since they had been flaunting the Code for years. This is basically a story about infidelity, as the title implies. However, the end of the adulterous affair doesn’t come nearly soon enough. Sarah Miles (Deborah Kerr) is obviously a flagrantly immoral woman, since she seems to feel no remorse for cheating on her trusting husband, Henry (Peter Cushing). Her fling with Maurice (Van Johnson) isn’t even her first affair, since we see her kissing some other man in the first scene. The implication of the titular affair is none too subtle, with clear lines about going to hotels and spending several days together. The other main objection is the religious theme. The inclusion of prayer, miracles, and religion, particularly Catholicism, often worked as a compensating moral value in Code films, bringing light to otherwise immoral stories. However, the faith in this story seems forced and sacrilegious at times. After Sarah believes that a hastily uttered prayer saved Maurice’s life, she struggles with her need to keep a promise to God. However, her belief in the Divine Being is grudging and angry. Other characters’ reaction toward her religious feelings, including Maurice, are very hostile, calling belief in God superstition. It isn’t fundamentally against the Code for one person or many people to doubt the power or existence of God. However, this film allows disbelievers to spout irreligious statements with no contradiction for so long that it is offensive to Christians. The only character who shows steady faith is a priest (Stephen Murray), but the inclusion of a Catholic priest in largely Anglican England seemed forced to me. Ultimately, the overwhelmingly dark tone of the film reveals its British origin, since classic films from Great Britain are often very depressing and bleak. Combine that with the Shurlock Era’s emptiness and you have a truly dark film which made me yearn for the Code’s light.

Have an Enlightening #AMonthWithoutTheCode2020.


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