When pressed to name her favorite of her own films, Vivien Leigh brushed aside both GONE WITH THE WIND and STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE in favor of this now little-known film based on a failed 1930s stage drama of the same name: WATERLOO BRIDGE, directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Leigh had good reason for her choice. Although she was dazzling as Scarlett O'Hara and elegantly depraved as Blanche DuBois, she was never as beautifully photographed as she was in this 1940 film.
WATERLOO BRIDGE is perhaps best described as one of a number of films "with an English accent" that played to American sympathies for England in the years when England largely stood alone against Nazi Germany. The story itself has a wartime setting: beautiful ballerina Myra (Vivien Leigh) meets and falls passionately in love with officer Roy Cronin (Robert Taylor), only to be parted from him when he is called to duty during World War I. Alone and increasingly destitute, she learns that he has been killed in action--and so, broken hearted and unconcerned for herself, she drifts into prostitution, plying the world's oldest profession along Waterloo Bridge... until she experiences a horrific twist of fate.
Although Robert Taylor is a bit miscast, Leigh carries the film with a truly remarkable performance. In the opening portion of the scene, she is at the height of her youthful beauty, and cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg makes the most of it; later, when experience has hardened her, she turns the graceful charm of her earlier scenes upside down to create the bitter, brassy tart that Myra has become. The cast also features an exceptional performance by Lucile Watson as Lady Margaret and notable turns by Maria Ouspenskaya, C. Aubrey Smith, and a host of others.
Although less well known than such tragic romances as Garbo's CAMILLE, WATERLOO BRIDGE is easily the equal of such and considerably better than most. The romantic aura is powerful, the production values are meticulous, the direction, photography, and script are first rate. And at the center of it all we have perhaps the single most beautiful actress of her era, Vivien Leigh, in one of her finest performances. You'll need a box of tissues for this one; don't miss it.
Yes, it's advertised as available - but they're imports. Not to cast aspersions upon imports, but is it so difficult for whomever owns the copyright to produce this & add a few DVD extras?
This is an amazing movie - Vivien Leigh is completely charming as Myra & gives a bravura performance. For any of the uninitiated, the story revolves around a ballerina & the serviceman she meets during a WWI air raid in a story where the Shakesperean axiom of true love & its propensity to run amok is thoroughly illustrated.
Although not the all-time greatest movie ever made, it's a splendid gem from 1940s Holywood, replete with a bit of melodrama, a bit of unreality, a lot of pathos and humanity. "Waterloo Bridge" is a classic film which is due to the movie-loving public - particularly in its virgin black & white condition. PLEASE, Hollywood, make this movie available on DVD to the public!
on November 10, 2002
Vivien Leigh is magnificent as Myra, the young ballet dancer who falls in love with handsome Roy Cronin, a British army officer, who has been called to duty. They met on Waterloo Bridge during an air raid and commenced dancing at the Candlelight Club where they vowed to marry. When Myra believes Roy dead, she drifts into the seedy world of prostitution after she has been dismissed from the ballet school. The newspaper report of Cronin's death turns out to be erroneous, however: Roy and Myra accidentally meet....Leigh's performance is the core of the film: she's as brilliant as she is beautiful. Her metamorphasis from a delicate, virginal and romantic girl to a lost, pitiful and pessimistic woman (due to fateful circumstances) is a stunning account of her bravura acting ability: if Scarlett O'Hara won her an Oscar and made her a star, Myra solidy confirmed her undeniable talent. All the supporting performances are splendid: Lucile Watson as Roy's aristocratic mother, Virginia Field as Kitty, Myra's loyal roommate who visits Primrose Path, and the tyrannical ballet impresario as played by the great Maria Ouspenskaya. This was Robert Taylor's favourite film and his performance ranks with his best. Robert E. Sherwood's 1930 play was filmed priorly by Universal in 1931. Mae Clarke won kudos for her interpretation of Myra, Roy was played Douglass Montgomery and Bette Davis had a bit. Hopefully, it may make it to video someday. As with Taylor, this was Leigh's personal favourite of all her films.
on March 11, 2003
Vivien Leigh had what I firmly believe was her most wonderful role as the tragic Ballerina Myra Lester in MGM's classic "Waterloo Bridge". If one film was to be regarded as the epitome of what romance on screen should be like then this beautiful production would be it. With no use of bad language, no gross sex scenes, relying as it is on a simple but beautifully wrought story of genuine love between two very different people, it is perfect and should be a film enjoyed by all those over the generations who have loved or wish to be.
Adapted from the famous stage play "Waterloo Bridge", by Robert F. Sherwood it provided the ever lovely Vivien Leigh with one of her greatest roles ever. Made in the aftermath of her triumph as Scarlett O'Hara in the classic "Gone With The Wind", it provided the second of two classic roles for her within the space of two years. Despite winning an Oscar later in her career for her tragic role in "A Streetcar Named Desire", Vivien Leigh would always be most fondly remembered for her work in "Gone With The Wind", and "Waterloo Bridge". Here she has a very different role to the feisty Scarlett and Vivien proves herself to be more than up to the challenge. Never on screen has she been more lovely or convincing as the fragile dancer Myra who meets the man of her dreams Colonel Roy Cronin (Robert Taylor in his best role ever)in the middle of an air raid on London's Waterloo Bridge, falls into a whirlwind romance only to be seperated from him by the demands of the war which also sees her own life crumble into degradation after falsely believing him killed in action in France. Expertly directed by veteran Mervyn LeRoy famous for extracting heartfelt performances out of his actors, "Waterloo Bridge" is a wonderfully moving experience from start to finish. We see the young couple meet in less than ideal circumstances in the underground being used as a airraid shelter, we see (in the most romantic scene in the film) the two dancing and falling in love at the wonderful Candlelight Club just as the light is being extinguished. We join them in their attempts to get married and then to find Roy being shipped off to active duty within a few hours. We then witness Myra's tragic decline into a life of prostitution only to discover too late that Roy is still alive and still just as in love with her while life has taken her in a totally different direction leading to tragic consequences. As the heart felt lovers Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor are perfectly matched and bring total conviction to their parts. Both stated in later years that this film was their own personal favourite and its easy to see why filled as it is by wonderful acting, beautifully staged romantic scenes and a message about what war can do to people in general. Robert Taylor has never been better and his old age rememberances of his lost love on Waterloo Bridge are some of the most tearful parts in the whole film.
"Waterloo Bridge", abounds with other beautiful performances as well. As Myra's best friend and confidant Kitty Meredith who shares the hardships of life on the streets with her , Virginia Field is wonderful in her unwavering love and loyalty to Myra. Veteran character actress Lucile Watson fresh from her triumph playing Norma Shearer's wise mother in "The Women", plays here Robert Taylor's mother Lady Margaret Cronin. Always a beautifully sensitive actress her standout scene where she meets Myra in a restauranrt just after Myra believes that Roy has been killed will leave a lump in your throat for a long time. Rounding out the superlative cast is Maria Ouspenskaya as the harsh Madame Olga Kirowa the domineering manager of the ballet company troupe who by her rigid set of rules is responsible for Myra's downward spiral to a life of degredation and C. Audrey Smith as the Duke delivering his usual sterling work as the army superior who finds himself a little in love with Myra himself when he gives she and Roy permission to marry.
First and foremost it is Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor's film and as an ideal image of what young lovers should be they are perfect. The chemistry here is ever bit as magical as it was for Vivien with Clark Gable in "Gone With The Wind". She and Taylor had worked together a couple of years previously in England when Robert Taylor travelled over to film "A Yank In Oxford" and their familiar camaradie shows on screen. I cannot recommend "Waterloo Bridge", highly enough to you. It is one of my all time favourite romantic dramas. Being also a favourite of my dear late mother's it also has a real sentimental attachment for me. Whether you are seeing this film for the first time or revisiting it after a number of years if you love romanctic tearful dramas you can't help but fall in love yourself with this beautiful production of "Waterloo Bridge".
on June 24, 2006
Wonderful movie. Would love to have this and Vivien Lee's stellar performance on DVD. Hollywood's unnecessary region codes that screw over so many of us who would want and buy these DVDs are unfair. I hope someone will listen and release this DVD for North American DVD players. No wonder so many people rip and buy illegal copies when the real, quality copies are unavailable. I would be satisfied with a Region 1 DVD with no special features just to own this but looks like I will have to wait.
on March 7, 2007
I watched this movie for the first time just a few days ago, and it has made such an impact on me, mostly because of the bravura performance by Vivien Leigh. She is so much more than the two excellent performances she is mostly knwn for ('Gone with the wind' and 'A Streetcar named desire')
In Waterloo Bridge, her performance of Myra, the dancer turned prostitute, left me haunted. This is the type of story of someone who has gone through so much before, that makes her doubt about life and the goodness of it, the possibility of a lifetime of happiness. But what's fascinating is that there is no mention in the movie of Myra's past, but Ms Leigh lets you know that she has gone through so much by the look in her eyes and body language; by the moments in which she is so anxious for that bridge to happiness to open up to her. I was incredibly moved by it. The intimacy of her performance is the center of the movie. The last scene, when she is walking on the bridge and about to do what she'll end up doing (I won't spoil the ending), gave me tears, touched me deeply in my heart. There was no need for words, Ms Leigh's restraind and powerful acting is something that i had rarely seen before in any actor. The other actors are good as well. Robert Taylor's role is the generic one of the male hero of a movie, quite two-dimensional. Virginia Field as Kitty, the close friend of the heroine, is quite good, giving depth to a character that could have been quite two-dimensional otherwise. I purchased the novel because i want to compare the book itself with the movie/screenplay, though i am very satisfied with the movie itself. I would like to know the original source of the novel by the Pulitzer price winning author, Robert Sherwood. Melvin LeRoy did beautifully captured the essence of a story of a human beeing caught by the rolling rock of destiny. But this is in great part thanks for Ms. Leigh acting. This movie has become one of my very favorites of all time, but the main reason is how Ms Leigh was able to read into the soul of a woman that deep down has been beaten by her past, and how at the end she is fatally wounded inside. Few actors are able to reach so deep into the soul of a written character. Her performance will haunt me for a long time.
on January 12, 2007
If I had a choice, I would give this DVD 0 stars out of 5. Waterloo Bridge is one of my favorite movies of all time. When I saw it available on DVD a couple of weeks ago, I bought it immediately through blingshih at Amazon. I was very disappointed when I received it and watched it. First of all, the subtitles are missing throughout part of the movie and has hundreds of spelling and grammatical errors.
But the thing that got me the most mad was that the most important part of the movie was edited out--the scene that gives the movie its name. In the very end, Myra (Vivien Leigh) commits suicide by jumping in front of military trucks. Her fiance, Roy (Robert Taylor), was on one of the trucks. He held her while she was dying and he found her lucky charm and kept it with him for the rest of his life. This scene was glaringly gone in the DVD. The editing in this movie clearly gets an F.
I sincerely hope that a decent DVD release of this classic love story comes out soon. This release slashes up a beautiful movie into small fragments. Take my advice and don't buy it.
on January 16, 2007
Robert Taylor was an inspired choice for the role... Not only does he have an imposing screen presence, but he brings the perfect mix of enlightenment, humor, compassion and emotion to the part...
Opposite him, Oscar Winner Vivien Leigh, perfect in her innocent lovely look, radiantly beautiful, specially that evening in a trailing white chiffon gown... Leigh floods her role with personal emotion giving her character a charismatic life of its own... As a great star, she delivers a heartfelt performance turning her character into a woman who undergoes an emotional awakening...
In this sensitive motion picture, Mervyn LeRoy captures all the tenderness and moving qualities... He makes every small thing eloquent, concentrating the highly skilled efforts of many technicians on the telling of a very simple bittersweet love story... Vivien Leigh paints a picture that few men will be able to resist... Her performance captures the audience to the point of complete absorption... Robert Taylor (carrying sympathy all the way) quietly throws all his vitality as an ambition actor into the task... Their film, a credit to both, is a heavily sentimental tale about the vagaries of wartime...
Love is the only thing this movie is about... The story is simple: Myra Lester (Leigh) is a frail creature, an innocent young ballet dancer and Roy Cronin (Taylor) is an aristocratic British army officer... When their eyes met it took no time at all for their hearts to feel the loving call... They meet on London's Waterloo Bridge during an air raid, and fall deeply in love... Their romance is sublime, and they soon agree to marry...
The lover's marriage has to be postponed when the handsome officer is suddenly called to the front... Sadly, the sweet ballerina misses her performance to see her captain off at Waterloo Station... Fired from the troupe, she is joined by her loyal friend, Virginia Field (Kitty Meredith), and the two vainly try to find work, finally sinking into poverty and the threatening fear that goes with it...
The film is replete with beautiful and poignant scenes, specially the 'Auld Lang Syne' waltz scene in the Candlelight Club, before Taylor leaves for France...
Seen today, 'Waterloo Bridge' has retained all its charm and power, all its rich sentiment, and tragic evocations...
on August 27, 2002
Beautiful, sensitive love story told in flashback, loosely based on Robert E. Sherwood's play, of the doomed love between aristocratic british army officer Robert Taylor and frail and lovely, classic ballerina-turned-into-streetwalker, Vivien Leigh, at the peak of her natural beauty.
This movie was filmed after Miss Leigh's success in "Gone With the Wind" and she gives a great tragic performance as ballerina Myra Lester, and Robert Taylor is much better than usual as Captain Roy Cronin. Very good acting by the supporting players too: pretty Virginia Field is also great in a heart-felt performance as Leigh's very loyal & supportive friend; Madame Maria Ouspenskaya, once again gives a knowing authoritative performance as the strict ballet coach; Lucile Watson is very understanding, sweet and charming as Lady Margaret, the hero's mother; and last but not least, C. Aubrey Smith, very effective as usual, as the Duke, Taylor's Uncle.
Filmed before in 1931, at Universal Studios and directed by James Whale, much more faithfully to Robert E. Sherwood's play, with Mae Clarke and Douglass Montgomery in the leads, with newcomer Bette Davis in a small role. Then again, remade in 1956, as "Gaby" with Leslie Caron and John Kerr.
on July 19, 2015
This movie is more tragic than the tale of The Lady of the Camille's which was an early Taylor film. It was as tragic and, in my opinion, better acted (sorry Dietrich). Leigh's character was overly pessimistic and really that was her downfall. How fast our lives can go up or down at the drop of a dime. If she had not been so proud. If she had opened up to the mother at their meeting for tea. It also revealed the sometimes great divide behind the rich and poor. The Taylor character had little concern for the truth of the life of the Leigh character or else he would have supported her making it to her job or making it clear that she should quit and he would support her. Or, if the ballet director had a heart the story would have been sweeter.
He was sweet but insensitive. She was sweet but pessimistic. The story was beautiful, tragic, and haunting. It is now a film on my list of top ten favorites. For both Taylor and Leigh, it was their favorite work.