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Customer Review

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling tale for the romantic., July 20, 2005
This review is from: Random Harvest (DVD)
Random Harvest is the classic double-amnesia yarn, quite effective due to the immense talents of Ronald Colman and Greer Garson. Colman is one of my favorite actors from the olden days, one who could play anything from a rugged hero to an intellectual professor convincingly. It's a shame he's not known to modern audiences; in my book he's right up there with Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy, and Jimmy Stewart. The few of his movies available today include Talk Of The Town, Lost Horizon, Champagne for Caesar, and Random Harvest.

Here Colman plays an English World War One veteran who escapes from an asylum with a severe case of amnesia. Greer Garson (Mrs. Miniver, Madame Curie) is Paula, an entertainer who takes him in and calls him Smithy. She decides he's better off not returning to the asylum, and takes him to the country, where they start a new life together, fall in love, marry, and start a family.

After three years Smithy goes to Liverpool to answer a job offer, where he's struck by a truck in the street. The shock brings back the memory of his identity, at the cost of that of his new life, wife and all. He returns home an heir of substantial wealth and responsibility, and as years pass he takes over the family business, and eventually becomes engaged. But his three year memory gap haunts him and he breaks off the engagement, suspecting his life can never be complete, failing at every attempt to bring back memories of his lost time.

During the second half of the film the plot takes a new turn as Paula, having discovered his real identity, takes a job as his secretary. On the advice of his former doctor, played by Philip Dorn (the Papa in I Remember Mama), she can't reveal her true identity to Smithy. This becomes really engrossing. If you let yourself in on this - if you're a romantic, and let yourself be absorbed by the well-performed story - you're in for a heart-wrenching experience, an allegory for any lost love experience, as she attempts to live with him unrecognized as his former wife. But I think you will find it well worth while at the end.

The supporting cast also includes a favorite character actor, Henry Travers (It's A Wonderful Life, Ball of Fire, On Borrowed Time, etc. etc.), Susan Peters, Reginald Owen, Melville Cooper, Alan Napier, Peter Lawford and Arthur Shields (who was Barry Fitzgerald's brother).
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 5, 2007 9:08:58 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 5, 2007 9:10:59 AM PDT
Don't forget Colman also turns in a wonderful performance as the tragic figure Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities which is also available today thankfully!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2008 8:24:07 AM PDT
Dogg Gone says:
Don't forget the 1937 Prisoner of Zenda with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as Rupert of Hentzau. Colman was a wonderful actor who was eclipsed by Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power in the US. He was a better actor than both in action and in light comedy or drama. Truly an actor's actor. And Greer Garson is simply one of the most beautiful women to grace the screen. The light for Greer is always right. Good review, great note above.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2010 2:50:29 PM PDT
Ronald Coleman was a superior actor to Flynn and to a lesser extent Tyrone Power in Drama and light comedy BUT superior in action / swashbuckers to them - I don't think so !!! By 1935-40 they had 18 to 23 years in age advantage to him and were contract players being shaped by their respective studio's. Mr. Coleman was the more unique actor - his marvelous voice,, expressive face and sensitve underplaying meant that he would.nt be typecast and could play a wider variety of roles. That being said he is superb in Selznick's "Prisoner of Zenda" and in 1939'S "The Light that Failed".
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