A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1945 – Brief Encounter

Am I cheating? Probably. But what the hell. I’ve almost made it 50 years into this history so far. I think I’m allowed a freebie.

I had a hard time figuring out 1945. Because this is the end of the war. Right before the noir boom. Right before the post-war “coming home” films. There’s really not much to point out, aesthetically, in Hollywood, at the moment. The biggest film of the year was The Bells of St. Mary’s, which is just a giant piece of fluff. Spellbound was a huge hit, but there’s no need to throw Hitchcock on there for no reason. He’ll get his article. I love that Leave Her to Heaven made a lot of money, but even that’s not really a film you can talk about as representing a year. That’s more a great melodrama.

So, in looking for films that could represent the year that was 1945, I was left unimpressed. The Lost Weekend was a choice but that’s just a great film that talks about a social issue. And I have a few of those around here. Anchors Aweigh is a great classic Hollywood musical. But let’s face it… if I’m gonna choose one of those, there are better choices. I already did my noir, so Detour is out. I could do Rome Open City, but that’s Italy and not representing film. It’s a tough year.

And owing to that, I went with Brief Encounter because… well, it’s Brief Encounter.

Sometimes you just have to go with the best film. Brief Encounter is a timeless movie, and one of the greatest films ever made. It won all sorts of awards, and is still recognized as one of the all time best. (It won Cannes, guys.)

I don’t really need to justify this as a choice, film-wise. Historically, I guess I could talk about how it represents suburban society and taboo subjects like affairs and a woman’s place. It’s the kind of stuff Douglas Sirk would do so well a decade later. Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows.

Honestly, I don’t really have much more to say about this. It’s Brief Encounter, and 1945 isn’t exactly the strongest of years. I guess I could have rearranged my list to make things fit, but it’s not like this is a very complex undertaking and operation. Who gives a shit? This is what I’m choosing. It’s sad and it’s romance. It’s a great film.


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