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The Passionate Friends

7.21 h 30 min1949PG
David Lean’s other, lesser known film about a love triangle spent too long in Brief Encounter’s shadow, but is now regarded as a fine, gripping drama.
David Lean
Ann ToddClaude RainsTrevor Howard
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Pinewood Films
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3.9 out of 5 stars

54 global ratings

  1. 58% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 13% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 6% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 19% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

PizzaroReviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 January 2012
5.0 out of 5 stars
A classy, enjoyable showcase from David Lean In the period before his grand cinema spectacles.
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Extremely interesting and absorbing drama that generates tension and suspense about what actions the intelligent, civilized, international banker Claude Raines will take as clues filter in about the restlessness of his younger wife. Some of the most effective scenes are those of smouldering volcano Raines, particularly a delicious scene where Raines is on the patio in Swtzerland dictating a high level letter about investment risks while fiddling with a pair of new binoculars. His dictation trails off as he intermittently praises the amazing detail the binoculars provide and sweeps them in ever widening arcs across the lake. Then he returns to the dictation, puts the glasses down, can't resist picking them up again, resuming and interrupting the dictation repeatedly while we squirm in our seats knowing that any second the binoculars will alight on Ann Todd and Trevor Howard returning by motorboat from an innocent, clandestine, all day cable car ride up the Swiss mountain, whiich Raines will misinterpret. The scene is exquisitely handled in all respects, with superb dissection of every conceivable possibility for tension and suspense building. This scene is an extremely accomplished achievement of cinema accomplishment, with an intricate unfolding of micro-events that are unforgettable, employing just a dictation setting at a table on a patio, the efficient secretary taking shorthand and a pair of binoculars. This is CINEMA first and foremost, with David Lean not tempted to reduce it to a standard adultery-suspicion formula and all actors rise to this higher purpose. There are some clumsy flashbacks and the sound is so faint one needs headphones to reduce listening strain, but the print is of pristine quality and, overall, it's a rare treat. There are easy to read subtitles to compensate for the faint sound.
21 people found this helpful
The CinemaScope CatReviewed in the United Kingdom on 02 April 2011
3.0 out of 5 stars
One of David Lean's less effective romances
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On her way to Switzerland for a holiday, a married woman (Ann Todd) recollects a New Year's Eve party nine years earlier when she rekindled a romance with her former lover (Trevor Howard). Her husband (Claude Rains) forgives her indiscretion but forbids her to ever see him again. So, guess who she meets in Switzerland? Based on the novel by H.G. Wells, this is one of David Lean's romance films of which BRIEF ENCOUNTER and SUMMERTIME are better known but this one fits in snugly in between. It's not as satisfying predominantly because the central character of the wife is rather selfish and narcissistic. She loves Howard in a way she doesn't love her husband but she loves the money and security of the lifestyle Rains can provide her with. Meanwhile, she's only giving the two men in her life only half of herself and frankly, both men deserve better. Fortunately, Todd (PARADINE CASE) is quite good here and does a more than credible job of displaying the contradictory mental state of her character. Guy Green did the cinematography with some lovely French mountains and lakes standing in for Switzerland and Richard Addinsell did the overactive score. With Wilfrid Hyde-White.

The ITV DVD from England is a superb B&W transfer.
10 people found this helpful
K. StewartReviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 September 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Terrific Melodrama!
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This film was more than I expected in terms of direction. The plot of the story is cleverly written and the acting was superb! If they do decide to make a remake of this film, it will have to consist of accomplished actors and actresses, as the action of each player is very subtle. There is a certain element of suspense in the film, especially when Ann Todd's character is found out, by her husband, (Claude Rains) that she is having an affair with another man, and both the wife and her lover are eventually caught out and confronted by the husband. Also, after many years later, when the wife and her previous lover finally, unexpectedly, see each other again on a holiday trip and the husband eventually finds out that again they were spending time with each other.....It may sound simple, but the direction of just those two scenes where exceptional.... Highly recommened!! Buy, watch and enjoy!!!!
Mr. Ross MaynardReviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 July 2010
4.0 out of 5 stars
Claude Rains is Outstanding
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Claude Rains gives a superb performance in this lesser known of David Lean's films - in parts chilling and cruel; at times forlorn and abandoned; and then passionate. I like him in "Casablanca" but he is marvellous in this. By contrast I find Trevor Howard a little flat in this film (certainly compared to "Brief Encounter" and "The Third Man"). Ann Todd is magnetic on screen (more compelling than Celia Johnson I feel). "Brief Encounter" and "The Passionate Friends" were made only a few years apart and work well watched together. Alhough I think the story in this film is less strong than "Brief Encounter" - scenery apart - this film wins out largely on the strength of the performances of Ann Todd and Claude Rains.
13 people found this helpful
Susie BookwormReviewed in the United Kingdom on 03 April 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
A beautiful to look at film.
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A beautiful to look at film, well restored. It is well acted, with the three main actors making the best of the material they have to work with. It's a kind of Brief Encounter for the rich but doesn't quite come off. I would not call it a classic but it is an enjoyable watch. Anne Todd's costumes are to die for.
2 people found this helpful
AnonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 February 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
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DVD had a few frozen moments towards the end.
Charlie's MumReviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 March 2015
3.0 out of 5 stars
Only worth watching if it's raining, you don't have company, you can't go out, you've run out of books to read... etc
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It's okay..... I expected it to be a bit dated, but just can't get my head around how badly men treated women in those days - I mean in ordinary general life, as though they are objects. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil it for anyone just buying it..... but having watched it once and not been particularly moved by it, the dvd is now going to my local charity shop.
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 June 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Good old film. Thanks good service
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