Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ann's Top Ten Romance Heroes of all Time--Number Nine

Fred Jesson in Brief Encounter, Noel Coward's achingly poetic chronicle of unexpected and unwanted desire, and my pick for best romantic film of all time.

*There be spoilers*

Played by Cyril Raymond in a supporting role, Fred is the pleasantly sardonic, pudgy husband of Laura Jesson, a middle-aged, frumpy British housewife who struggles with a mighty, unconsummated, attraction to Trevor Howard's Alec Harvey.

Alec: I love you. I love your wide eyes, the way you smile, your shyness, and the way you laugh at my jokes.

Laura: Please don't.

Alec: I love you. I love you. You love me too. It's no use pretending it hasn't happened cause it has.

Yes it has. I don't want to pretend anything either to you or to anyone else. But from now on, I shall have to. That's what's wrong. Don't you see? That's what spoils everything. That's why we must stop, here and now, talking like this. We're neither of us free to love each other. There's too much in the way. There's still time, if we control ourselves and behave like sensible human beings. There's still time.

And time, and some of the most beautiful talk you'll ever hear as we delve into Laura's heartbreaking angst, and her struggle to Do The Right Thing.

[thinking] Fred, dear Fred. There's so much that I want to say to you. You're the only one in the world with enough wisdom and gentleness to understand. If only it was somebody else's story and not mine. As it is, you're the only one in the world that I can never tell. Never never. Because even if I waited until we were old, old people and told you then, you'd be bound to look back over the years and be hurt. And my dear, I don't want you to be hurt. You see, we're a happily married couple and let's never forget that. This is my home. You're my husband. And my children are upstairs in bed. I'm a happily married woman - or I was, rather, until a few weeks ago. This is my whole world, and it's enough, or rather, it was until a few weeks ago. But, oh, Fred, I've been so foolish. I've fallen in love. I'm an ordinary woman. I didn't think such violent things could happen to ordinary people.

It's not until the last scene of the movie, when Laura has returned from her final encounter with Alec and is quietly coming apart, that we discover Fred knew what was up with her all along. Though no one would ever mistake Fred for a hottie, his reaction is what catapults him onto my top ten list.

Fred: You've been a long way away.

Laura (on a sob): Yes.

Fred: Thank you for coming back to me.

Beg, borrow or steal this movie if you haven't already, and see if Fred Jesson's heroic kindness towards his tortured wife makes your list of top ten romance heroes of all time.


Anonymous Heather Rae Scott said...

I've never watched this movie, but now you make me wanna. Thanks! lol

On those words alone, yes, he would make my top ten.

I'm so out of things to talk about on my blog. This is a verra cool idea.

February 21, 2007 12:25 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

Since those are about the only words Fred gets to say the whole movie, that's good *gg*.

Really, Rae, you have to see this movie. My mother sat me down one Sunday afternoon about 30 years ago and made me watch it. Since then, it's been one of my favs. Hope you love it too!

February 21, 2007 1:31 PM  

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