A florid but surprisingly watchable romantic melodrama, Paramount's DVD of Another Time, Another Place (1958) comes recommended for its razor-sharp transfer off the original VistaVision negative, its excellent cast, and for its "introduction" of a relative unknown with much charisma if little experience playing star Lana Turner's boyfriend: 27-year old Sean Connery.
The film opens in London, a few months before the end of the Second World War, where Turner's Sara Scott is a war columnist for the New York Standard. She's having an affair with BBC reporter Mark Trevor (Connery), even though she's engaged to her New York-based editor, Carter Reynolds (Barry Sullivan). Though passionately in love, Mark decides to break off the relationship, revealing to Sara that he's in fact married, with his wife and son living in his hometown of St. Giles, in Cornwall. (Cornwallians no doubt found this amusing, given Connery's thick Scottish brogue.)
The separation doesn't last, however; they're too much in love to give each other up. As Mark and his assistant/best friend, Alan Thompson (Terence Longdon) prepare to fly to Paris, and with Sara's fiance Carter on his way to London, Sara is forced into making some tough choices.
Lana Turner had been one of the biggest stars of the 1940s, but her career faltered with the end of the studio system, and her notorious private life and personal problems put her career in jeopardy. She made a big comeback with Peyton Place (1957), but that premiered after Another Time, Another Place went into production. At the time this film, a smaller-scale British production - with Barry Sullivan the only other "name" in the cast - must have seemed like a major comedown for Turner. During production Turner's gangster boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato, reportedly became jealous and threatened Connery, and that the actor responded by decking the hapless hood. By the time Another Time, Another Place was released in America, in August 1958, Stompanato was dead, having been stabbed to death by Turner's daughter, Cheryl Crane. After that "trial of the century" and Crane's acquittal, Turner's fame only grew, and she had her greatest success soon after, starring in Imitation of Life (1959).
All this is perhaps more interesting than anything in Another Time, Another Place, but the picture is reasonably good for what it is, a throwback to the kind of romantic melodramas that had been so popular during the 1940s especially, presented here with the novelty of British locations and VistaVision lensing by Jack Hildyard (Bridge on the River Kwai). The film is handsomely produced, with several elaborate sets, some obvious but attractive matte work, and picturesque use of the Cornwall scenery.
The film hinges on a major plot point this reviewer won't give away, but suffice it to say Turner's Sara spends the film's second half blinded by the potential consequences of her actions. Because of this, the film generates some suspense as it moves toward an inevitable, waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop climax that isn't believably resolved -- though it's a nice try -- in Stanley Mann's screenplay (from Lenore J. Coffee's novel). Also straining credibility is Turner's Hollywood glamour. Her overly lavish London apartment, complete with Cockney maid (Doris Hare) could have been designed by MGM's art department, and Turner's on-the-beat wardrobe includes a mink coat and jewels. The script suggests (but doesn't implicitly state) that Sara is the daughter of the Standard's publisher, and that she's not so much a war correspondent as a human interest columnist; even so, she's not acceptable in that get-up.
Turner was a full decade older than Connery and looks it, but the two generate considerable chemistry and he already exhibits an enormous screen presence. (Compare their scenes together with Turner and John Wayne's in The Sea Chase.) Connery is fourth-billed and given an "...and introducing" credit, even though he had appeared in small, sometimes uncredited roles in a couple of movies before this. (Immediately prior to Another Time, Another Place, Connery appeared as "Welder #2" in 1957's Time Lock.)
The rest of the cast is unusually good. Glynis Johns, herself seven years older than Connery, is quite good as Mark's wife, while Martin Stephens, soon to play creepy kids in Village of the Damned (1960) and The Innocents (1961), is conversely quite charming as their son. Sid James is very good playing an (apparently) American colleague of Sara's, uncomfortably thrust into the thick of Sara's personal life. Busy character actors John Le Mesurier, Robin Bailey, and Bill Fraser also have welcome supporting parts.
Director Lewis Allen (Desert Fury, Suddenly) stages the drama well, notably in the film's opening scene, where Sara and Mark observe the tense efforts to defuse an exploded V2 rocket.
Video & Audio
As with the studio's The Delicate Delinquent, Paramount seems to have gone back to the original, black and white VistaVision negative for their transfer of Another Time, Another Place. The image quality is outstanding, with only some minor, razor-thin horizontal scratches stopping this transfer just short of perfection. Titles like this often don't get the credit or attention they deserve but this really is a superb presentation. Sadly, there are no alternate audio options to the okay English mono, and only English subtitles for the hard-of-hearing. There are no Extra Features, not even a trailer.
Though not believable and lacking the subtlety and honesty that might have given its main character's emotional conflict some weight, Another Time, Another Place is worth a look for its cast and gorgeous black and white transfer.
Stuart Galbraith IV is a Kyoto-based film historian whose work includes The Emperor and the Wolf - The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune and Taschen's forthcoming Cinema Nippon. Visit Stuart's Cine Blogarama here.