Waterloo Bridge (1940)
Truth and beauty get a workout in this gorgeous, über-romantic MGM spin on Robert Sherwood's acclaimed play. The stunning Vivien Leigh, hot off of Gone With the Wind, resumes her native British accent to play Myra Lester, a delicate ballet ingénue captivated by Roy Cronin (a striking Robert Taylor), a dashing, wealthy officer in World War II London. Every wartime-romance gimmick there is comes into play as the starry-eyed lovers race to marry before Roy's brief leave expires, but fate isn't having any of it: Roy is snatched back into the jaws of combat and Myra is left alone, ill and destitute (of course), forcing her into a beleaguered life of prostitution. Although Taylor, as always, overdoes the boyish enthusiasm, his optimistic naiveté nicely counters Leigh's superb, heart-wrenching melancholy. Mervyn LeRoy directs with a knowing touch, and Maria Ouspenskaya, Lucile Watson, Virginia Field, and C. Aubrey Smith lend great support. Have the tissues handy.