From The Warner Archive: The Journey, 1959 (dir. Anatole Litvak)
Fans of The King and I, rejoice! The Warner Archive has released Anatole Litvak’s drama The Journey, which reunites co-stars Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. This film also served as the big screen debut of Jason Robards – and what a debut it was!
Set during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, this Cold War drama would have been a run-of-the-miller romantic thriller/drama if it weren’t for the strength of its leads – and its supporting cast. You can pretty much tell from the beginning what the film is about and how it is going to end, but Brynner and Kerr and especially Robards are so compelling that you get sucked into their plight regardless.
I go a kick out of seeing Brynner actually play a Russian – the actor was born in Vladivostok – so I guess that’s one good thing about the Cold War; more Russian parts! Brynner and Kerr have the same intense chemistry they brought to the screen three years earlier in The King and I, for which Brynner won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Brynner even gets to showcase his singing chops in this film, drunkenly belting out a Russian folk song.
Deborah Kerr was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress a whopping six times – for 1949’s Edward, My Son, 1953’s From Here To Eternity, 1956′s The King and I, 1957’s Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, 1958’s Separate Tables and 1960’s The Sundowners. Somehow, she never won, though she was given an Honorary award in 1994. That is pretty ridiculous when you think about it. Regardless, Kerr is as fabulous as ever in this film, bringing both strength and fragility to her role. Like I said earlier, she has undeniable chemistry with Yul Brynner, but she also has sizzling hot chemistry with Jason Robards. If you’re gonna constantly lose the Academy Award, at least you gotta have hot co-stars, right?
Speaking of Jason Robards – he is practically dying through the entire film (this is the main plot of the film) and he is just so attractive I think it is probably illegal. Although this was his debut and he shares the screen with two of its greatest legends, Robards is operating on a whole different level here. While Kerr and Brynner give great performances, Robards truly feels like he is a Hungarian radical fleeing for his life. In his forty-year career, Robards was surprisingly only nominated for three Academy Awards – all of which were for Best Supporting Actor – winning twice: 1976’s All The President’s Men (won), 1977’s Julia (won) and 1980’s Melvin and Howard.
Anne Jackson is slowly becoming one of my favorite character actresses. She is just so feisty and full of zeal. I’m kind of glad she never really became a lead actress; she’s like Thelma Ritter – the supporting character that acts as the glue that holds it all together.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a review disc given to me by the Warner Archive, though the opinions are all my own.
Posted on June 28, 2012, in Classic Film, DVDs and tagged 1959, Anatole Litvak, Anne Jackson, Deborah Kerr, Jason Robards, The Journey, the Warner Archive, Yul Brynner. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.