Question:

Title of a classic film

by Guest9321  |  11 years, 10 month(s) ago

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I remember the plot of a movie I saw years ago as an old man playing chess in the evenings with a friend. As they play he tells of his life and of a lost love that wore a red dress to a ball where all women are to wear white. Each night the old man falls asleep and his friend leaves, it is then that his lost love appears as a ghost to visit him. In the final scene the old man again falls asleep urging his friend to leave but on this occasion the old man has died. You then see him as a ghost as he was as a young man reunited with his love.

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  1. John

    Hello

    I am afraid I did not recognize this one at first, but an Internet colleague suggested that it sounded similar to the film Smilin Through which has been made three times, in 1922, 1932 and 1944.

    The 1922 version was obviously a silent movie, so cannot be the one you want. The 1932 film was shot in black & white with Franchot Tone, Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard. The 1941 version was in colour and had a few songs added as it starred Jeanette MacDonald.

    What follows is the storyline of the 1941 version which definitely sounds like the one you want.......

    The film begins as we join we join the elderly Sir John (Brian Aherne) and his equally aged friend Owen, the town vicar (Ian Hunter), on Queen Victorias sixtieth jubilee. A service of celebra¬tion takes place at the vicars church, but Sir John is in a somber mood as he leaves through the tiny cemetery behind the chapel. He walks home sadly, pausing in his garden to remember. There the ghost of his dead sweetheart, Moonyean, comes to him, telling him they will soon be together again.

    Owen interrupts Sir Johns reverie. He has come for a game of chess and to urge Sir John to join the villagers for the speeches and fireworks that night. Sir John must not live so much in the past. Owen has also brought bad news. Moonyeans sister and her husband have died in Ireland, leaving their little daughter completely alone. What would John say to bring the little girl to live with him? Impossible, John answers. But, Owen urges, a little girl would give him someone else to think about. John offers money for her care, but that is all he can do.

    Owen leaves, and John finds a little girl (Jackie Horner) standing quietly at his elbow. Her name is Kathleen, she tells him she will be five in August. Awkwardly, John tries to make friends and finally invites her to sing for him. Accompanying herself on the piano, she sings. The Kerry Dance? In a childish trill. A montage begins of a child romping through flowered fields, and the voice is joined by that of the grown Kathleen. The camera tracks from the trees outside the window to Kathleen (Jeanette) at the piano.

    It is Kathleens birthday and Uncle John presents her with Moonyeans pearl ring. Kathleen is growing more like her aunt every day, Owen tells her. John tries to slip the ring on her finger, but cannot bring himself to do it. She must do it herself. The distant sound of cannons across the channel in France throws a further pall on their celebration. World War II has begun.

    Kathleens current suitor, Willie (Patrick OMoore), calls to take her out, and they get caught in a thunderstorm. Willie keeps trying to propose, but the practical Kathleen is more concerned with getting away from the rain and lightning. At her instigation, they break into a deserted house nearby. It is the old Wayne house, and its dusty interior indicates no one has been there in decades. As Willie makes a fire, Kathleen contemplates the strange chaos of the room. A newspaper dated 1864, the remains of a half-finished drink, a chair overturned, a riding crop on the floor. She is fascinated by the untold story. Something terrible happened in this room. Someone shut the doors and never came back.

    Ominous footsteps are heard in the hallway and, in spite of themselves, the two shrink back in fear. A shadowy figure emerges into the firelight. It is a handsome blond American who acts as if he owns the place. In actual fact, he does, for he is Kenneth Wayne (Gene Ray¬mond), son of the owner, Jeremy Wayne. Willie is all for getting out, but Kathleen is taken with the young man. Kenneth brings out a bottle of ancient port, and they exchange toasts. They discuss the difference in their accents, and, since Kathleen has not a trace of a brogue, this is somewhat puzzling. Kathleen plays an old spinet and sings Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes,? as Kenneth raises his glass to her in the flickering firelight.

    They meet a few days later for a picnic beside a lake. The thunder of cannons is heard in the distance, and Kenneth tells her he has come over to England to join up. As the sun sets, they canoe on the lake, and she sings A Little Love, a Little Kiss? against a shimmering pink and orange sky.

    Kathleen cheerfully reports their unusual first meeting to her? Uncle? And is astonished at his rage. He orders her never to see the son of Jeremy Wayne again! John rushes from the room, and Kathleen begs Owen to tell her what is wrong. He refuses, and she follows John into the garden.

    Reluctantly, he tells her of a night fifty years past, the night before his wedding. The house was full of people. The garden dissolves back to that night, and young John is walking with his beautiful Moonyean (a brown-haired Jeanette). Moonyean goes off to her guests, and a dashing Owen takes John aside to warn him. Jeremy Wayne is at the tavern drinking heavily and making threats against John. But John dismisses it as too much brandy. From the next room, Moonyean is heard singing Ouvre ton coeur.?

    Ellen, the maid (Frances Robinson), tells Moonyean that Jeremy Wayne is in the garden acting very strangely. She had best get Sir John. No, Moonyean tells her, she will handle it. She finds Jeremy (also played Gene Raymond) and tells him how glad she is that he has come to wish her well on her wedding eve. The tormented Jeremy insists that she marry him, that he would not let another man have her. He kisses her wildly and rushes off as John enters the garden. Shuddering, Moonyean clings to John. He is unaware of Jeremys visit and thinks she is having an attack of nerves before their wedding. He slips her pearl ring on and off, practicing for the ring ceremony the next day, and they waltz around the garden to? Smilin? Through?

    At the Wayne house, Jeremy acts out the sequence that created the confusion discovered by Kathleen. He sees the wedding announce¬ment in the paper. It is too much. He pushes aside his drink, hurls down his riding crop, and knocks over a chair as he rushes off to the church.

    In the churchyard, the villagers are gathered as Moonyean arrives in a garland-draped carriage. The ceremony is proceeding and John has only to slip the ring on Moonyean?s finger when Jeremy Wayne appears, waving a pistol. You shall never have her. He cries. Moonyean flings herself in front of John as the gun goes off. She sinks slowly to the floor and Jeremy flees. As she hangs suspended between life and death, she asks John to put the ring on her finger. If you ever need me, I will find a way to come to you, she whispers and she dies.

    Back in the present, in the garden with Kathleen and Uncle John, she weeps for him and accepts his will that she never see Kenneth again. Later at the canteen, she sings for the troops, a dreamy rendition of? There is a Long, Long Trail Awinding.?

    Ken waits for her outside and insists on walking her home. He has to know more than what she told him in her letter. Of course, he can understand her feelings since he is going away to war. It would be wrong to tie her down Kathleen breaks down in tears.

    They have one last picnic together, with the distant cannons sounding ominously in the background. Ken tells her that he is leaving for France tomorrow. She begs him to marry her that night. They go to tell Sir John, who bitterly denounces them. If Kenneth takes Kathleen away, she need never come back.

    In a tearful scene, Ken decides that he cannot deprive Kathleen of her security and leave her with nothing. Kathleen returns home, alone and devastated. Ken has refused to marry her, she tells Sir John. Now she may never see him again. If God is just, John tells her, she never will. Kathleen flees in horror, and Owen denounces John for his curse. Their friendship is over. Alone, John is visited by Moonyean, who tells him that his hate has come between them.

    Four years later, Owens church is the scene of a victory celebration. Kathleen leads the choir in Land of Hope and Glory? Outside, Kenneth Wayne approaches the church and enters in time to hear her finish the song. He has been sent to the church from the city hall to find his fathers birth certificate. Owen greets him joyously, but Kenneth tells Owen he has only come to settle his fathers estate, then he is leaving for America. He would not be seeing Kathleen. Does Owen think she would want him now? He gestures to his crutches.

    As a captain, Kenneth has been assigned an aide, Charles (Eric Lonsdale), who helps him pack up things at the old house. Kenneth sits in the room where he first met Kathleen, brooding and sipping port. As he stares into the glass, he hears Kathleens voice singing Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes.?

    Kathleen herself rushes in, crying Ken! Ken!? He barely has time to hide his crutches under the couch. At first she is too busy laughing and crying and talking to notice his silence. Why, oh, why did he stop writing? She thought he would be wounded, but he is all right. She can see that. How long is his leave? He tells her he does not have to go back. Kathleen happily concludes that he has come to fetch her before returning to America, but again he disillusions her. He is going home alone.

    Owen visits John for the first time in four years. He tells him about Kenneth and begs him to stop opposing the marriage. Kenneth has lied to Kathleen. John must tell her the truth. John refuses. Using Johns own words, Owen tells him that? If God is just? He and Moonyean will never be together if he keeps Kenneth and Kathleen apart.

    Kathleen arrives home, completely shattered. John tells her that she will get over it. You did not? She replies. John has always had the memory of someone who loved him, but she has nothing. John relents and tells her what has happened, that Kenneth is crippled and does not want to burden her. His train is leaving soon. She must hurry and bring him back with her.

    In a joyful rush, she drives off in her car, passing Owen in the road. Go to Uncle John, she cries. John and Owen gruffly shake hands and settle down to a game of chess. Someone else, Owen tells him, will be very glad at what he has done? Yes...she is glad? Says John. Concentrating on his move, Owen looks up to find John dozing and smilingly leaves.

    Johns sleep is deeper than Owen knows. Moonyean comes to him for the last time, and the ghost of the young John rises to greet her. Moonyean, at last you?ve come to me.? No, John? She says? You have come to me?

    To the strains of Smilin? Through, they walk out through the garden to their wedding carriage, surrounded by happy neighbors. On the road, they pass the young lovers happily driving back to the house. Kenneth has his arm around Kathleen. The flower-covered wedding carriage continues down the road, and Moonyeans voice is heard in the last verse of Smilin, Through.
     

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