Featured: Top of Home Page

This 'Journey' Is Worth It

Proper English Lady Meets Angry Russian Baldie -- Cold War Heats Up.

The Journey

Director: Anatole Litvak
Cast: Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner
Distributor: Warner Archive
Rated: Not rated
Year: 1958
USDVD release date: 2012-07-05

What's that movie with Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr? The one where they come from different cultures and you can cut the sexual tension between them with a scimitar? Oh yes, The King and I. No, just a minute, that's not a romance, even though people seem to think it is. Wait, here it is: The Journey.

Kerr is Lady Ashmore, once again a proper English lady undulating with sex appeal. In the 1950s, she was Hollywood's go-to gal for infidelity and other extra-marital adventures because she was classy enough to get away with what would make a mid-American woman look like a slut. Brynner is a Russian major stationed at the Hungarian side of the Austrian border during the abortive Hungarian rebellion of 1956, as Soviet tanks roll in to crush resistance. These were recent events when this film was shot in Austria, so this is an up-to-the-minute Cold War film, yet not a formulaic one.

If this were a simple formula, the gruff, frightening major would be a monster, as would all his men. Instead, writer George Tabori and producer/director Anatole Litvak give considerable weight to the major's point of view. A patriot who's proud of having liberated Hungary from the Nazis, he's angry and confused that now these good people are shooting at his men. It's as if the ungrateful swine don't want them around. He sees in Lady Ashmore a symbol--nay, the actuality--of what he detests and cannot have, and part of him wants it. She's helping a wounded escaped prisoner (Jason Robards in his film debut) whom she loves. Can they get across the border? And at what price?

This is more of a soap opera and a brooding thriller than any serious statement, but it has gravity from its location filming, its slow-boiling plot, and its tensely balanced cast of foreigners, all eager to cross the border, who weigh the pros and cons of throwing the lady and her lover under the bus. The movie remains tantalizingly ambiguous about whether the blustery American paterfamilias (E.G. Marshall) gives away their escape plan (or is it the Hungarian serving girl?) while Georges Auric's music swells and practically blares with cimbalom and Hungarian motifs.

Robert Morley stands around clucking as a British journalist. Ready for her close-up, young French star Anouk Aimée narrows her eyes and carries a rifle as a proud resistance fighter; talk about radical chic. Look closely or you'll miss one of the most famous people in the picture; that's little Ronny Howard as the carrot-topped kid who wants to play war. This absorbing entertainment has worn well and is now available on demand from Warner Archive.






Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.