Brief Encounter (1974) – Not Recommended

I streamed this version of Brief Encounter on Amazon since it is not available on Netflix.  It was released on NBC television on November 12, 1974 as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame series.

This adaption of the classic 1945 movie is awful.  For one, I found it boring because the way the story unfolded was slow moving.  I expected great performances from two of the world’s greatest actors.  Richard Burton played the role of Dr. Harvey  as if he really did not want to do this movie.  Burton is also very stiff.   Sophia Loren was, I think. way too exotic looking for the role of this story.  The script was altered quite a bit I guess to accommodate the fact that Sophia Loren is an Italian actress with an Italian accent, but to me, it just did not work for this film.  Loren’s true acting ability does not shine here at all.

Personally, I did not detect a shred of chemistry between Richard Burton and Sophia Loren.  Unlike the 1945 classic, the two characters in this adaption did not ever seem as comfortable with one another as in they did in the original.

The way that the story unfolds here, it was not really about falling in love through a series of innocent happenstance.  It seemed to me that after Burton removed the grit out of Loren’s eyes he was seeking her out for more.  He is clearly a man who is not happy at home.  Dr. Harvey is older in this version as well and Burton not only looks much older then Loren but also tired.

I did not care for the script with the added side stories either.  Robert Shaw was originally hired to play Dr. Harvey, but he bowed out as filming was about to begin and Richard Burton stepped in at the last minute.  Perhaps that can explain his less then enthusiastic performance.  The few times that Burton spoke of his feelings for Loren’s character I was not moved.  This entire production was just strange to watch and not at all riveting like the 1945 adaptation was.  Perhaps it is unfair to compare it to the original, but even if I didn’t this movie just simply bored me to tears and I had to almost force myself to watch it to the end and I did want to like it.

6 comments

  1. Ann Riordan says:

    I just saw the remake of Brief Encounter and it was a very boring version of the original. The original had a compelling score and made use of flashbacks and memory, as well as use of lighting and beautiful cinematography. It was a great film.

    It is interesting how a beautiful score and use of memory are often common denominators of great movies: Out of Africa, The English Patient and Brief Encounter.

  2. veganopoulous says:

    I borrowed the 1945 movie from the library and decided to watch it today but nearly choked when I checked the tv guide and saw that the Sophia Loren version was on tv in ten minutes time! I only watched the first half hour or so and had to leave but I was quite bored with it and didn’t care that I’d miss the rest of the film 🙂 The 1945 version was so much better.

  3. Hamlette says:

    I think it’s absolutely fair to compare a movie to other versions of the same story as long as you’ve seen the other version(s) recently or are very familiar with them. While I quite like Burton, he’s sometimes wonderful and sometimes halfhearted.

  4. phylly3 says:

    Interesting.. Now I want to watch it just to see how bad it was! LOL I think you are right, there was probably something not right going on in their real lives that carried over on to the set. I wonder who directed this?

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