Fortunes of War (1987)
Starring: Emma Thompson ( Harriet Pringle), Kenneth Branagh (Guy Pringle), Charles Kay (Dobson), Mark Drewry (Dubedat), Ronald Pickup ( Prince Yakimov), Alan Bennett (Lord Pinkrose), Harry Burton (Sasha Drucker), Rupert Graves (Simon Boulderstone), James Villiers (Inchcape), Robert Stephens ( Castlebar), Ciaran Madden (Angela Hooper), Desmond McNamara (Galpin), Richard Clifford (Lawson), Diana Hardcastle (Edwina Little), Christopher Strauli (Toby Lush), Greg Hicks (Aidan Pratt), Elena Secota ( Sophie Oresanu), Magdalena Buznea (Despina), Caroline Langrishe (Bella Niculesco), Vernon Dobtcheff (Hadjimoscos), Mischa De La Motte (Horvath), Nicholas Amer (Palu), Sam Dastor ( Dr. Shafik), Clifford Rose (Professor Gracey), Patricia Quinn (Mona Castlebar), Glyn Grain (Foxy Leverett), Claire Oberman (Mortimer), Anthony Calf (Corporal Arnold), Esmond Knight (Liversage), Erin Donovan (Phil), Vladimir Mirodan ( Nikko Niculesco), Jeremy Sinden ( Lord Lisdoonvarna), Relja Basic (Emmanuel Drucker).
British professor in Romania is sought for spy work against the fascist elements
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
The Balkans, September 1939. Guy and Harriet Pringle, newlyweds, are on a train headed to Bucharest, Romania. Guy has lived there for some time now, but it will all be new to Harriet. A Jewish refugee is on the train with them and when the conductor comes around he can't find his passport or his I.D. card. So he is taken off the train. At another station stop Harriet sees a fellow being escorted away saying he had his British passport this morning.
When the Pringles arrive in Bucharest, they stay in a hotel. Guy decides to go over to the university where he is a professor. The guy that lost his British passport (named Prince Yakimov) comes to a hotel to check in. A guy named McCann, who appears to be hurt, calls him over and tells him to send out this news story he has written about Polish refugees. It is the story of the Polish refugees fleeing Hitler's troops and streaming out of Poland. Yakimov says he would like to help, but he hasn't eaten anything in a couple of days. McCann gives him his press cared and tells him he can use it to get whatever he wants to eat with it He can also use it to buy other things too. In fact, McCann hires Yakimov.
Guy returns to the hotel where Harriet waits for him. On the radio there is the news there is an announcement that troops are forming on the Romanian border. The speaker says they will fight to the last man in defense of Romania. The couple goes to a restaurant. Guy tells Harriet that England is protecting Romania from the Germans. He sees the Romanian Minister of the Press and Propaganda named Ionescu. Guy welcomes his friends Inchcape and Terence Lawson. He introduces them to his new bride. Someone notices Prince Yakimov in the restaurant. The Prince is half Irish and half Russian. The singer Marika sings for the audience and Guy and his friends discuss the fact that she is having an affair with Ionescu. Another friend of Guy comes to the table. Her name is Sophie Oresanu and Guy introduces her to everyone.
Lawson leaves the restaurant and Prince Yakimov comes over with a man named Dobson. Harriet mentions to the man that she saw him earlier in the day at a train station. Yakimov says he has been having a hard time lately. They even impounded his car. Guy tells Harriet that Sophie has said that she will find them a nice flat. Harriet is happy about that but a little suspicious of Sophie.
In the hotel lobby three old friends of Prince Yakimov greet him. They would like him to got for a drink with them, but the Prince says he is just too tired now. He suggests that they go out tomorrow.
At an outside cafe Harriet wants to know about Sophie. Guy says she is taking a law degree, her mother was Jewish and Sophie worked on an anti-fascist magazine. While they talk, Guy overhears two men talking. The Romanian Prime Minister Călinescu was shot last night at a chicken market. Harriet tells Guy that she had hears several shots last night and wonders if that was connected to the Prime Minister. The murder is the talk of the day. Guy believes it to be the work of the Iron Guard (a far-right Romanian political party started in 1927). The Iron Guard is filled with Nazi sympathizers. Some speculate that the Germans will be in Romania in a week. Guy disagrees saying that they won't because the Russians have entered eastern Poland.
A newspaperman working with McCann drags Prince Yakimov wth him asking him if he is doing McCann's job or not? They go over to see the six accused assassins executed in the public marketplace and their bodies left there for the public to see. Then the two newsmen go to a press conference held by the Romanian government. Ionescu is leading the press conference and he says that six students killed the Prime Minister. He adds that the nation is prostrate with grief. Then he scolds the foreign press for spreading unfounded reports. After all, they are guests in a foreign country. He says not a single member of the Iron Guard remains in Romania. The fellow with the Prince says the assassins sure looked old to be "students". Ionescu will not deal with that remark. Instead he complains about a journalist spreading the rumor that the Romanian King was behind the murder. The journalist in question is a sick man, but as soon as he gets better, he will be ordered to leave Romania.
Guy and Harriet go visit Lawson. They see a photograph of his fiancťe Brenda. At another time they go visit Sasha Drucker and his family. Sasha is a brilliant university student that knows Guy. His mother is Romanian but his father is Jewish and that means possible trouble for the family.
McCann confront Yakimov. He says the Prince did a terrible job as a reporter, got him deported and ran up a huge bill on the press card. He hopes never to see Yakimov again.
The Pringles move into their new flat that overlooks the royal palace. Harriet introduces Guy to Despina, a servant, who seems to come with the flat. The news of the day is that Sasha's dad has been arrested. The Pringles have a flat warming party and the place gets filled with people. One of the guests is Bella who is with her husband Niko Niculesco. Bella says that Guy doesn't like her that much because he thinks she is a reactionary.
Sasha and the rest of his family have disappeared.
At a big Christmas Party at the Pringle flat, Sophie calls Guy to say that she is thinking of killing herself. Guy is going over to her place to check on her. Harriet tells him that she is going with him. Guy goes up to her flat for awhile, while Harriet waits for him outside. When he returns she asks him if Sophie killed herself? No, he says.
Romania. January 1940. Harriet says Commander Sheppy is that secret service man. This upsets Guy because Sheppy's service is supposed to be a secret. Harriet sees a kitten outside.
Sheppy has a meeting with the Englishmen in Bucharest. He has a map of the River Danube up on the wall. He tells those assembled that they are all patriotic Englishmen who should be in service in some way. He says that 400,000 tons of wheat go from Romania to Germany via the Danube. He says that the men with him will be blowing things up and having an adventure with lots of fun. Guy and his friends are a bit amused by Sheppy's approach to his subject.
Back with Harriet, Guy and some of his male friends talk about the meeting. Harriet says to Guy: "You won't do it will you?" If he is to go on secret missions, he's most likely to blow himself up. Guy says that he does hate fascism so much that he wants to do something to fight the fascists. He adds, however, that he will be very careful, if he has to plant any bombs.
Prince Yakimov sleeps in a bed in the hotel. The newsman that he works with comes in and throws him out of the bed, which is his.
Harriet knows where Guy put the top secret paper and she takes it out and looks at it. The paper has a big Polesti Oil-fields label on the bottom of the page.
At the British legation, Prince Yakimov meets a man famous in the British intelligence community: Foxy Leverett. Foxy mentions that he has heard that Yakimov has access to a car. Yakimov says yes he does, but it is on the Yugoslavian border. He says the authorities held it for his unpaid debts. Foxy says he is going to slip over into Yugoslavia and it would sure be useful to him to have a car.
Guy asks his friend Lawson to meet Harriet for lunch in his place. He has something to do. So Lawson and Harriet have lunch together. Harriet tells him that she heard that he is a pacifist. Lawson says he is not really a pacifist. It' more that he doesn't like being around more than one or two people at a time. Lawson is drunk by the time he drives her home.
The news is of Hungary mobilizing. German troops are flooding into the area. The Romanians say they can fight, but the newsman associated with Yakimov just laughs at the very idea.
Harriet is nervous. The rumor is that Germany has invaded Hungary. She wants to know where is Guy? She talks with Inchcape, who tells that her Guy will turn up. Guy shows up back at the apartment at a late hour. Harriet is very upset with him and demands to know where he was. When she finds tout hat he was at the picture show, she even gets madder.
Harriet talks about the secret service openly with Inchcape. Inchcape tells Guy that he told Sheppy that he had no jurisdiction over his (Inchcape's) men who are working for him in the summer educational program for the British Legation. Guy says that the Romanian King is about to announce an amnesty for members of the Iron Guard. He also says that Romania is on the brink of a fascist takeover. Inchcape reminds Guy that he is not a warrior, but a professor. Harriet admits to Guy that she mentioned the secret service project to Inchcape. Guy gets angry and leaves.
Prince Yakimov is kicked out of the new place at which he is staying, which appears to be a boarding house. He is booted out for non-payment of ihs rent. Guy bumps into him, hears Yamikov's tale of woe and brings him home to Harriet. She is not at all happy about Yamikov staying with them.
Guy tells his wife that he has a surprise. They are going on holiday into the mountains. Prince Yamikov will stay in the flat. This upsets Harriet. Guy reminds her that he is ill and hungry and he needs help. He uses guilt to convince her to accept the Prince. The couple goes on holiday, but Guy isn't much company. He reads a lot instead of spending time with Harriet. On one occasion, she tells Guy to stop ignoring her. She tells him: "Look at me!"
Harriet and Guy return to their flat. She asks Guy if he is sure that Prince Yamikov is gone from their apartment? He says yes. But when Harriet goes into their bedroom, she finds the Prince in red pajamas sleeping soundly. She wakes him up and tells him to get out of their bed. The Prince does get up, but then he takes a two hour bath. Despina comes in and tells Harriet that her cat got out of the window and fell to her death. Of course, it was the Prince who opened the window. When Yamikov finishes his bath, Harriet tells him that he killed her cat. Despina says that Yamikov only eats and eats, sleeps and sleeps. Harriet goes to her bedroom, closes the door, sits on the bed and cries.
Guy has been reading Shakespeare and he has decided that he wants to put on a play by Shakespeare dealing with the Trojan War. He gets actors for all 28 parts. They all congregate in Guy's apartment to rehearse the play. Harriet is happy because she is to play Cressida. A few days later, however, Guy asks her to do the costumes for the play. She asks who will play the part of Cressida. He tells her that Sophie will play the part. Harriet is not pleased.
In the movie newsreels the footage is of the Germans bombing Norway.
The newsman associated with Prince Yamikov warns Guy and his circle that Germans have invaded their local bar. They go down to the bar and sure enough, there are Germans all over the place. The English men and women hear the voice of Winston Churchill on the radio. He says that the British will never surrender.
The play is performed and is a success. The newsreels of the day shows the Germans marching into Paris. Inchcape comes to Harriet to congratulate her on her wonderful costumes. Her husband says that he may do another play by Shakespeare. At the after party Lawson says he is going back to England and wants Harriet to go with him. He says her husband is a fool. Harriet says she's amazed. She hasn't even been married for a year and she has now already been propositioned. Inchcape stops the music and the talking to tell everyone that Paris has fallen to the Germans. Guy offers a toast to victory. Lawson tells Harriet that the Germans will win the war. Harriet doesn't like his defeatist spirit.
On their way home from the after party, Sasha Drucker comes up to Guy and Harriet. He tells them that he was forced to join the armed forces soon after his father was arrested. He managed to escape and needs a place to stay. Guy and Harriet agree to hide him at their place.
Prince Yakimov has his car back because Foxy Leverett picked it up in Yugoslavia and brought it back. The Prince says at least there are no bullet holes in the car. The Iron Guard goes marching by accompanied by a band. Prince Yakimov and three others take a spin in the fancy car.
At lunch Bella tells Harriet to be careful, because the fascists seem to be taking over in Romania.
Prince Yakimov runs right through the Iron Guard paraders when he makes a fast left turn onto a side street.
Back at their flat, Harriet tells Sasha, who stays on the roof top of her building, that Prince Yakimov is with them and he should not see Sasha.
In class Guy is still condemning fascist dictatorships. Sophie is in the class. She says none of the students will talk to her because she is half Jewish and half Romanian. But what Sophie really wants to talk about is a loan of money she wants to get from Guy. Guy tells her that Harriet manages the money in their marriage. Just then Prince Yakimov arrives with one of Guy's old friends. Tony Lush. At home Guy, Harriet, the Prince and Tony talk while seated around a table.
Harriet goes up to the rooftop to see Sasha. He is drawing a mural on part of the wall on the roof. Harriet tells him it is very good. She asks him if he has any friends in the army? He says he only had one, but the Iron Guards threw him off the moving train and he was killed. He asks Harriet why do these people hate the Jews so much?
The next day the Romanian flag is at half mast. Romania has given Bessarabia to the Russians. Guy, Harriet, Dobson and Lawson are having lunch at an outdoor restaurant when a waiter comes over and balls them out for being English. He yells the the British should fight the Russians, not the Germans. Everyone around them claps for the fascist speech.
Snooping around the apartment, Prince Yakimov finds the top secret paper dealing with the Polesti oil fields. He takes it.
Harriet and Lawson talk about Guy. She agrees that Guy is very naive in his innocent faith in Russia. When alone with her husband she asks him if he is frightened? Of what?, he asks. "Of harboring a deserter." Guy says no. They couldn't possibly send Sasha away. Harriet agrees.
Dobson of the British Legation calls all those involved in the summer educational program together. He says given the political situation, the summer school should be closed down and everyone should head back to England. Someone says that there is some good news. The British Royal Air Force bombed Berlin. Yes, but Dobson adds that the Germans have been bombing London. He adds that in Bucharest, the Iron Guard is gaining control. King Carol might be forced to abdicate and then Hitler would be invited to join them. All Inchcape seems concerned about is the coming arrival of Lord Pinkrose who will give a speech on the poetry of Lord Byron. Dobson says the bottom line is that they can no longer guarantee the safety of their employees.
Lawson tells Harriet that he is with Sophie now. The hotel is unusually busy because the Iron Guard is having a reception upstairs. When the fascists finish upstairs, they march into the lounge and start singing a patriotic German song. The English start to leave, but they are stopped by a big fascist who says they will not leave before the Iron Guard says they can leave. Harriet is not going to put up with that. She takes out a long pin from her purse and sticks it in a long ways into the buttocks of the man. He shouts in pain and pushes forward knocking people out of his way. The English quickly follow behind him and then head left to get out of the hotel.
Harriet talks with Sasha and shows him the front page of a Romanian newspaper. There is an article dealing with his father's upcoming trial. Sasha wants to see his father, but Harriet says it is too dangerous to go there. He might be arrested. So Sasha comments that Harriet could go in his place. Harriet does go and she sees his father as he is brought out from the trial. The guards treat him roughly and he falls to the ground. Mr. Drucker sees Harriet and Harriet looks right at him. Then the police get the man on his feet and throw him in the back of a paddy wagon. When she returns she tells Sasha that she not only saw her father, but talked to him too. She says he looks well and sends his love to Sasha. (Of course, Harriet is lying.)
The news is that the Hungarians have marched into the Cleuse (?) on the 5th. The newsman comes to Prince Yakimov and says that he needs somebody in Hungary to see what's going on. He also says the Iron Guard will take power in Romania and blood will run in the streets. He convinces the Prince to take the job and travel to Cleuse. Yakimov decides he will go. He feels safe because he knows a Nazi official there who is a friend. His name is Freddi von Flugel.
Harriet hears shooting. Prince Yakimov says he is going to Cleuse. He mentions that Toby Lush's car is for sale. The rumor is that he and another man named Dubedat have left. Guy says that the two men went to Istanbul. Harriet says that they should leave Romania too. Guy tells her that she knows they can't do that (because of Sasha).
On a train Prince Yakimov is headed for Hungary. The man sitting next to him on the train says that in Hungary they will shoot the Prince. He refers to the Prince as "poor man". Yakimov goes to visit his friend Freddi, who welcomes him warmly. The Prince likes to brag and to build himself up, so he says that the English people tell him everything that is important. This interests Freddi a great deal and he makes more inquiries about "everything". To prove his importance, the Prince pulls out the top secret paper he took from the flat of Guy and Harriet and shows it to Freddi.
That was a big mistake. Suddenly, Freddi's mood turns threatening. He asks Yakimov: "What is this game?" As a Nazi official, he is approached by Prince Yakimov, who tells him he is a British agent -- a spy. This scares Yakimov. Freddi demands to know the name of the agent who had this top secret document. Yakimov says he can't tell him that, but Freddi says he must. It's either tell or pay a visit to the Gestapo. Yakimov says the man is Guy Pringle. Freddi tells Yakimov that if he tells them all about Guy and his friends, he will let Yakimov leave on the morning train.
On the train headed to Bucharest the woman passenger next to him asks him where he is headed. When Yakimov says to Bucharest, the woman tells him that they will shoot him there. There is big trouble in Bucharest.
Prince Yamikov arrives at the apartment. Harriet and Lawson are watching the palace as it is being attacked by the Iron Guard. Yakimov says he's going to bed because he is tired. In the morning, the Iron Guard raises a red flag with a Swastika in the middle of a white circle. When Guy sees this, he says maybe they should leave Romania. But first they have to get a passport for Sasha.
Bella has lunch with Harriet and tells her that a friend told her that the German radio station read out a list of names, saying that these men will be answerable to the Gestapo. The names on the list were Foxy Leverett, David Boyd, Inchcape, Clarence Lawson and Guy Pringle. The speaker referred to the list as a death list. Harriet tells Inchcape, but he is more concerned about the arrival of Lord Pinkrose than being on a death list. She tells her husband, but all he says is that it's just part of their propaganda methods. Harriet does not approve of this "stiff upper lip" approach.
The next day a dead man's body is discovered sprawled out by the side of a river. It turns out to be the body of Foxy Leverett.
An airplane arrives. Out pops Lord Pinkrose. He wants to know why there is so much security at the airport. His fellow Englishmen tell him that Romania has just signed a ten year pact between Romania and Germany. They also tell him that Foxy Leverett was beaten, shot and thrown from a passing car onto the riverbank. Yakimov is now in Turkey in Kebabs. Harriet asks Lawson if he is still with Sophie. He says yes. She then asks a favor of him. She says there must be at least one Polish friend that can forge a passport for them.
Jewish stores have their windows broken. The same thing happens to the British Information Bureau. Inchcape was roughed up a bit. They hit him across the bridge of his nose and eye socket with his oak framed picture of Winston Churchill.
In bed at night Guy tells Harriet that she will take Sasha out of Romania when she goes. This is the first she has heard that she is going without Guy. Guy says he has to stay to take the program over from Inchcape. Harriet asks how can Guy think of something so insignificant as an educational program when war is sweeping over them? Guy says he has to believe in normality. And he will work as if everything is normal. Harriet believes that nothing is going to be normal for the fall term.
Inchcape is talking about going to Turkey with many of the other Englishmen. The newsman asks him if he is running away? The hotel is swarming with German military police.
Inchcape plans to go along with Lawson and Sophie to Ankara, Turkey. Harriet asks if Lawson is taking Sophie with him? Yes. Guy says that's great and asks him if he will marry Sophie? He says yes. He then says Harriet has to return the items of clothing that he lent her from the clothing of the Polish Relief Agency. The Poles are gone and the Romanians want the clothes back that the Poles lent out to others. Harriet can't believe it. All she has is two shirts left and she says if Lawson wants them, he can just go chase them. She drops them out of the window of the flat. Lawson is mad and says he expected better from her, especially since he went to such trouble to get the forged passport for Sasha. Now Harriet changes her attitude completely as she grabs Lawson and gives him a big hug.
Inchcape, Sophie and Lawson get on the Orient Express and leave. Guy and Harriet go to the opera with Lord Pinkrose, but at the last moment they find out that the performance of Rigoletto has been replaced by a German opera by Wagner. The three English viewers leave the theater. Pinkrose is very mad, unreasonably mad, at all these terrible things happening to him in Bucharest. And he won't even give Guy and Harriet a chance to explain things.
Guy and Harriet return to their flat. They hear their servant Despina crying. When she sees Guy and Harriet she says that they took Sasha. All that they can find of Sasha is just his forged passport.
Harriet is leaving in a plane for Athens, Greece. She says she will see Guy later in Athens.
Harrietís plane flies to Athens. She walks to her hotel.
Greece, October 1940. Prince Yakimov comes by and Harriet yells to him. She is actually very happy to see him. They talk about events in Bucharest. The Germans have taken over there. Now the Prince delivers news sheets for the British Information Bureau.
Yakimov comes to Harrietís hotel and she comes down to see whatís up. As she comes down the stairs, Guy pops into the doorway. They hug and kiss.
Guy says he will report to the organization and find himself a job. Harriet goes with him and they both are surprised to learn that Guyís subordinates in Bucharest, Dubaret and Lush, are now running the program of education. Guy wants to know if there is work for him in the organization. Not yet anyway. When Harriet and Guy are alone, Harriet says: "That man has stolen your job." They go see Yakimov. They talk about the news. The Italians will declare war on Greece. Guy would like to meet Yakimovís boss, Allan Frewen.
Frewen does talk with Guy, but says the real man in power is Professor Gracey. So Harriet and Guy go visit Mr. Gracey at his "palace". They have drinks with him and Gracey says he has heard reports that when Guy was in charge of the English Department in Bucharest he was lacking in seriousness. He heard that Guy had put on a Shakespeare play when the Germans were about to come into Bucharest. Guy learns that Pinkrose was the primary source for the information.
Harriet and Guy watch a military parade on the streets of Athens. Harriet says that the military men look like gods. They go to lunch with Toby Lush. Harriet starts working for Allan. She helps Yakimov mimeograph news sheets.
Harriet meets Charles Warden, a liaison officer from army headquarters. He is young and handsome.
Harriet and Guy get a new place to stay. Guy heard from Dobson that their first home in Bucharest was destroyed by an earthquake.
Pinkrose is put in charge over Allan Frewen. He brings in two elderly sisters who are very devoted to Pinkrose. Yakimov says their names are Gladys and Mabel Twocurry, but no one seems to know which one is Gladys and which one is Mabel. He says they are friends of Pinkrose. The scuttlebutt is that Pinkrose is preparing his lecture on Byron.
Charles Warden invites Harriet out for lunch. She says she had better not go out with him, but he mentions going to the Parthenon, a place that she has wanted to visit. So she says yes. They have their picture taken when they are there. Air raid sirens go off and bombs start falling. Harriet cries and shakes. Charles holds her hand.
Harriet wants to invite people over for a house warming get-together. Guy is too preoccupied with his rehearsals for another Shakespeare play to want to throw a party. Harriet is a little peeved at him.
Wounded and dirty Greek soldiers return in defeat. Harriet says itís quite a contrast with the way they went out to war.
In bed at night Guy tells Harriet that she might want to have an affair with Charles Warden. She tells him: "Donít be absurd." Itís not about sex. Itís about her being lonely. She says she wants to know Guy, not Charles.
Harriet and Charles are out together again and again. After awhile Charles complains that he is just someone to keep her amused while Guy is busy. Harriet says Charles is more than that. He is a friend, a companion. She talks about Guy and Charles says: "To hell with Guy."
German troops invade Greece. Charles says he has received his orders. Tomorrow is their last day. He invites Harriet to come with him to his hotel. She thinks about it.
At work Harriet and Yakimov make fun of snooty Pinkrose. Gladys and Mabel comment that they should not be speaking that way, especially since of the two of them, one is a drunkard and one is an adulteress. Yakimov admits that he is a drunkard, but Harriet pleads not guilty.
Harriet is about to go into the Charlesís hotel room when she looks up to see Sasha. She says his name, but he looks at her as if he only felt contempt for her. She says: "Itís Harriet." Sasha replies: "I know." Harriet doesnít go with Charles, but goes to lunch with Sasha. He tells her that he was forced to sign his money away and his father is dead. One thing his interrogators said to him was: "Look at what your English friends have done to you." Sasha wonders about what they meant exactly. So does Harriet.
German troops are advancing into Salonica.
Harriet rushes over to see Charles. She tells him that she may never see him again. Charles just says: "Itís too late." He leaves with his unit.
In bed at night Harriet says that Charles is gone. Guy says that he is sorry, because it makes her unhappy. Harriet says: "I didnít mean to desert you." She adds: "You see Charles loved me." Guy tells Harriet: "I love you." Harriet belittles that statement by saying: "You love everyone."
At work in the office Harriet hears one of the Twocurry sisters mention Guyís name while typing. Harriet asks what is being written about her husband? The sisters says that it is confidential. Harriet goes over to their desks and snatches the paper to read what is being said about Guy. The claim is that Guy is dangerous because of his left-wing tendencies. Harriet says: "Itís a pack of lies."
Pinkrose comes in. Allan asks him about his Byron speech and Pinkrose says he canít possibly give the speech now as the Germans are pushing down through Greece. Harriet speaks up asking Pinkrose how can he dare print something so libelous about her husband? Pinkrose says that is confidential. And, anyways, as director he can do what he wants. Harriet takes the sheet with her as she starts out the door to tell Guy. Pinkrose tells her to consider herself dismissed. Prince Yakimov is dismissed as well.
The British are preparing to leave Greece for Egypt. They are leaving within twenty-four hours. They are trying to find a ship that has not already been destroyed. Bombs are being dropped from Axis airplanes. Prince Yakimov goes outside and lights a cigarette. A guard yells at him in Greek to put that cigarette out. Allan translates the message, but Yakimov doesnít see it as a big deal. Allan tells him that the guard might shoot, but Yakimov still doesnít take the situation seriously. The guard takes out his pistol and shoots Yakimov in the chest. He dies. Harriet and Guy rush out to see what happened and are upset to find their friend dead.
Guy and Harriet attend the burial of Yakimov. They have to get to the docks in a hurry because their boat is about to lave. They arrive almost at the last minute.
On the open sea Harriet rises in the morning and goes to look for her husband. She finds him reading once again. She goes up to him and kisses him.
In Egypt on a truck are Toby, Dubaret, Pinkrose, Guy and Harriet. The truck pull into the SSIC garage. Harriet and Guy laugh and call themselves refugees. They are at a place connected to the British Council Offices. Guy and Harriet go for a drink in the Anglo-Egyptian Union. There they see Dobson and he introduces the couple to the poet Bill Castlebar. Guy says he must find some work. Harriet says that Gracey hates Guy. When Guy and Harriet go to see Gracey, Dubaret and Toby, the men tell Guy that right now they are overstaffed. Harriet complains about the situation they are in and the trio take the approach that Mrs, Pringle's attitude is not going to help.
Guy is now working in Alexandria, while Harriet is in Cairo. Army officer Simon Boulderstone, brother of Hugo Boulderstone, comes to Harriet's place. The pretty Brit Edwina Little is there and she calls down to Simon. She tells him to come back later. Simon says he will. Harriet and Simon go with others out to see the pyramids. Mr. Clifford, an agent for an oil company, is the driver. As they drive around they pass a European woman painting a picture of the area of the pyramids. The boy with her seems to be tossing rocks at some king of mortar shell. The group goes to see Mr. Desmond Hooper first. They want to see his wife, Angela, but the husband says she is on a painting expedition with their son in the desert. As they discuss the matter, a fancy car comes rushing up to the house. Mrs. Hooper comes rushing up with her son in her arms. Everyone gathers around to see what is going on. The child is obviously dead from a head wound from the explosion of the mortar shell, but Mrs. Hooper doesn't realize it or is in denial.
The group goes out to see the pyramids. Harriet and Simon climb to the top of a pyramid. Up there they sing a song together while holding on to each other.
8th Army Tactical Headquarters. Major Hardy is sloshed again. The unit is told to get ready to move out. Simon prepares to move out.
The news of the day is that the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Yanks will be getting in to the war finally. It is said that the Germans are fifty miles outside of Alexandria.
Harriet travels to Alexandria to surprise Guy at work. Harriet tells him that she has come to take him back to Cairo. They have a drink at the Cecil Hotel. Army officer Aidan Pratt is there with them. He is on leave from Damascus. Guy is very interested in the man because he is an English actor. He can always use another actor for the plays he plans to put on.
Simon sees some action with his unit. They blow up some German trucks and kill some German soldiers. Simon's pistol is too weak to hit any of the soldiers who are relatively far away.
At work one of Harriet's Egyptian colleagues tell her that German propaganda tell the Egyptians to rise up against their oppressors. Their boss comes in to say that the USA is in the war now, so there will be no employment of aliens. Unfortunately, Harriet is considered an alien. New staff members will be arriving to replace her and others.
Dobson invites Harriet to lunch. At the restaurant Guy arrives. Harriet is surprised to see him. She reminds him that he is two weeks late coming to Cairo. Dobson tells Guy that Gracey has been sacked because of a scandal involving homosexual behavior with a Turk. Also gone are Lush and Dubaret. Guy will now be in charge.
Harriet and Guy go to see their new home. They laugh about there having still another new home to stay in. Most of the people associated with the British Bureau of Information live in the place. Among them are Dobson and Edwina. When she sees Guy, Edwina tells Harriet: "I wish I had a husband like this one." Guy says he has work to do and excuses himself. He gives his first speech to the Bureau. He tells everyone that they will need more workers, so get the word out. At night, Harriet welcomes Guy to their new home. She kisses him.
In the field Simon and two officers listen to a phonograph record. Simon leaves and talks to another soldier. He wonders why don't the Germans attack? The soldier answers that the Germans are in the same situation as the British. Both are in short supply of men, equipment and supplies. Simon mentions that his brother Hugo is with another unit, but is not that far away.
Lush and Dubadet come back from Palestine and inquire of Guy if he has any work for them. Harriet asks Guy later if he gave them work. Yes, they are now part-time lecturers. Harriet believes her husband is just too lenient with his ruthless rivals. Edwina introduces her new boyfriend Army officer Lord Peter Lisdoonvarna to Harriet, Guy, Simon and Dobson. Lord Peter says he is jealous of Simon because he is a fighting man above all and would like to see some action. Lord Peter slaps Edwina on the rear and says they are off. The group wonders what Edwina sees in this fellow and Dobson says Edwina wants to be a Lady.
Simon is driven in a jeep out to see Hugo. When he arrives at his brother's unit, a Corporal Peters comes to see him. He says he is very sorry, but his brother is dead. Simon wants to know what happened. The corporal says they were with an ambulance corps and the Germans opened up on them with mortars. Hugo was badly wound, losing both his legs. Corporal Peters says he stayed with Hugo until he died.
Angela Hooper is moving into the building where Harriet and Guy live. She tells Harriet that Dobson invited her. Angela says she knows that Harriet was with her on the day that her little boy was killed. She says he was a beautiful boy. She cries as she says his body was untouched except for a piece of shrapnel that hit him in the head and killed him. Angela says she had to leave her house. That day, says she, everything ended. She lost her son, her husband and her life-style. She is getting a divorce. Angela is now with the poet Bill Castlebar who Harriet also knows.
Egypt, September 1942. Simon comes to visit Edwina. He runs into Harriet and tells her that his brother Hugo was killed while on a patrol. He came to tell Edwina While Simon waits in the lobby, Harriet goes up to tell Edwina to come down. Edwina is with her Lord Peter. Harriet tells Edwina that Hugo is dead and she would like Edwina to come down and say something comforting to Simon. Harriet returns to Simon and finds him with Angela Hooper. Angela says to Harriet that they should take "this beautiful young man" and flaunt him around. Edwina comes down to tell Simon that she is sorry to hear about his brother. Lord Peter is with her and he tells Simon that he can get him a transferred to a unit engaged in more combat, as Simon wishes.
Angela, Harriet and Simon run into an army woman named Mortimer. She says she is a truck driver for the army. She is with Bill Castlebar. All five of them decide to go to the raunchy Berka section of town. They go to a cabaret and watch a kind of live sex show between a prostitute and a customer. They find it rather boring.
Back home, Harriet, Guy and Simon are together. Simon says his trip to the red light district was just awful. Guy is upbeat because he says he has hired two new teachers: Hertz and Allain. They are two European Jews from Palestine. While he talks, Simon falls asleep.
Simon is back with his unit. The talk is about the new command General Montgomery, known as Monty. Simon is given the assignment of leading an attack on a ridge held by the Germans. Simon leads the charge and his men overrun the German position. His commanding officer compliments Simon. There were only six dead and three walking wounded.
Harriet and Dobson are in the lobby. Dobson is very bothered by all the noise made by Angela Hooper and Bill Castlebar having sex together. All of a sudden there is an extra loud noise and Dobson sends Harriet up there to complain. Angela says that they just spilled a bucket of water. Harriet tells her that Dobson has been complaining about the noise. Angela asks why does Dobson never complain about Edwina when she is having sex with the great Lord Peter?
Guy is spouting poetry to the two new Jewish teachers. Harriet comes down and meets the two men from Palestine. She tells Guy she if off to see Angela. With the arrival of Harriet, Angela pins a bejeweled heart on Bill's coat. They are having a good time, until Mona, Bill's wife, shows up. She tells the women that she is a performer, a singer. Harriet says she will tell her husband about her, since he is always looking for singers. Mona says: "I only do it for money."
Angela, of course, is upset. She did not know Bill was married. Back in her room, Angela cries which disturbs Dobson downstairs in the lobby. Harriet is with Angela trying to comfort her. Angela gives Harriet the bejeweled heart she gave to Bill. Angela tells Harriet that they should run away together. She needs to get away from Bill. She wants to go to Luxor, Egypt and she is willing tol pay for Harriet's expenses if she will go with Angela. Harriet wants to go with her.
In the lobby Edwina is crying. She tells Harriet that Peter is a swine. He's married. Harriet asks her if she is sure that he is married? She asks Dobson about it and he says he is married. Harriet scolds him for not saying something earlier, but Dobson says almost everyone here is married and everyone seems to be having affairs. So what would it matter if he didn't say anything earlier? People are going to do whatever they want anyway.
Harriet and Angela go on a boat to Luxor. When they arrive at the Winter Palace in Luxor Angela asks where is everybody? The hotel clerk says there's a war on. Angela looks outside and sees a funeral taking place. Suddenly she realizes what is going on. There is an epidemic in Luxor. Angela then tells Harriet that she cannot stay here. She is frightened for Bill Harriet says Bill will be alright, but Angela counters with: "Harriet, I never trust anyone to stay alive."
Pinkrose complains to Guy about the venue for his speech on Byron. He wants the Opera House. Guy tells him he will look into it.
Now alone in Luxor, Harriet goes walking among the ruins. Who does she run into but the army officer and actor Aidan Pratt. Since Harriet is all alone, he offers to be her guide. He tells her that he didn't like Egypt when he first arrived in the country, but now he enjoys the country.
At a restaurant with Aidan, Harriet wonders if she should eat the lobster. Aidan says: "Does it matter?" He asks Harriet when will she and Guy come to visit him in Damascus? She says she will ask Guy about it and Aidan says: "Do persuade him!"
Simon's commanding officer comes to tell him that he must know someone high up in the chain of command because he is being transferred. His new job will be a cushy one -- that of liaison officer. Simon tries to tell the man that he didn't ask for this, but the commander doesn't want to hear about it. So off Simon goes, being driven in a jeep. The driver stops to get water, trips a booby trap and is killed. Simon is hit in the lower back by a piece of shrapnel. An ambulance picks Simon up.
Harriet is back from Luxor. Angela has disappeared. When Harriet talks with Dobson, she suddenly faints. She finds herself in a hospital bed. Dr. Shafik tells her that her insides are upset. He will have to do more tests to find out the cause. Guy comes to see Harriet. He says that Dobson told him that Harriet should go back to England. Harriet says it's none of Dobson's business what she does. She tells Guy that she will only go, if he goes with her. Guy sees the bejeweled heart given to Harriet by Angela and takes it from her saying that Edwina needs it as an accessory in the play he is putting on. The bum soon excuses himself to get back to work.
The doctor comes to see Harriet and tells her she has amoebic dysentery. He says sooner or later she will be cured. Angela shows up and Harriet says everyone told her that Angela had just disappeared. Angela says that she went to look for Bill Castlebar. She found him and they had twenty-four hours together. Angela says that Bill doesn't have the guts to leave his wife, so she is going back to England. This saddens Harriet as she tells Angela: "I'll be left without a friend." Harriet doesn't want to leave Gy alone, because she says you cannot trust men alone.
Edwina visits Harriet. Harriet sees her bejeweled heart on Edwina's lapel. When Guy comes to see Harriet, she tells him that she wants to go back home to England. Guy seems a bit shocked at this. Harriet gets well and is let out of the hospital. Guy is not there, of course.
Harriet is going to the Pinkrose lecture on Byron, but none of the women she knows will go with her. They either don't like Pinkrose or don't like Byron or lectures. Harriet goes alone. Mortimer comes and sits down by her side. Guy introduces Pinkrose, who then gets up and goes to the podium. He starts delivering his first line when he is shot dead. The audience starts running out of the auditorium. Some radical comes to the podium to speak for the cause.
Dobson tells Guy and Harriet that the two Jewish teachers from Palestine seem to be the assassins. They have not been seen since the shooting. Guy finds it hard to believe that the two men could be assassins.
Harriet goes home to pack. Angela comes to apologize to her saying that she is not going to England after all. Bill says he will leave Mona now. They both will go into hiding. Harriet now feels even more alone. Harriet meets Guy at the zoo. He complains that she knows he hates the zoo. She says it was only place she could arrange to meet him for the half-hour he would allow her to see him. She's clearly mad at Guy. Guy goes to see if he can get a liquor drink. Harriet leaves.
Harriet runs into Mortimer. She hugs her and tells her that she does not want to go to England. She wants to go anywhere with Mortimer. And in the truck cab with Mortimer and another army woman, Harriet can laugh again and enjoy herself.
The British ship Harriet was supposed to have been on is torpedoed with no survivors. Dobson reads it in the newspaper and telephones Guy to tell him the news. Guy is stunned.
The army truck comes driving down the road. The three women sing a song while driving along.
Guy goes to his class. A spokesman for the class says they are sorry about the loss of his wife.
Middle East, January 1943. Edwina asks Dobson if he thinks she should console Guy? She could invite him out for dinner and dance.
Guy goes to the zoo to talk to the bear that Harriet talked to the last time they were together. He tells the bear: "I hate death and everything to do with it."
Simon Boulderstone tells his doctor that he wants a woman named Edwina to come and visit him in the hospital. She was his brother Hugo's girlfriend. A few days later Edwina comes in to see Simon. The men on the ward whistle at her. She feels a little uneasy with Simon. When she returns to her residence, she tells Dobson that it is depressing to go to the hospital. Simon asked her to come visit and so she did, but she says he frightens her. She says that Harriet would have been the perfect person to visit Simon. Then she realizes that Guy is there is the room. She apologizes to him.
Harriet watches as her two buddies hold hands and walk along the beach. She looks sad. They get back on the road, which is now the road to Damascus.
Guy substitutes for Edwina and goes to visit Simon. He tells Simon that Edwina has a migraine headache. Simon asks Guy about Harriet. Guy starts telling him but then breaks down and really starts crying hard. Suddenly Simon thinks he can feel in his feet for the first time since he was hit in the back with shrapnel from a booby trap. He asks Guy to tickle his feet and Guy does so. Simon is so happy that he can feel something there that he just starts laughing and laughing. Guy laughs along with him.
Harriet and the two women arrive in Damascus. They drop Harriet off at army headquarters. She is looking for Aidan Pratt. The clerk on duty says that Aidan has been transferred and he is not permitted to say to where.
Guy goes out to eat with Edwina. He sees she is wearing the bejeweled heart that once belonged to Harriet and he takes it from her. They go to a fish restaurant in the Berka section. Guy runs into Aidan Pratt the actor. He introduces Edwina to Pratt. Aidan asks Guy where is Harriet and he hesitates to answer. Aidan asks if they have broken up? No, she went down with her ship. Aidan sits down with them, but soon leaves. Guy execuses himself from the table saying he will be right back. He chases after Aidan. He asks Aidan why did he think that he and Harriet were probably broken up? Aidan says when he saw Harriet in Luxor she wasn't happy. He tells Guy that he is going to Jerusalem. He also tells Guy that he could help him forget Harriet and invites him to stay with him on a holiday get-away. Guy says he doesn't have the time. Aidan leaves.
Guy suddenly remembers Edwina and runs back to the restaurant. But he didn't have to run. Edwina is busy eating with Major Tony Brody. Edwina introduces Guy to Tony.
Harriet goes walking through Damascus. A Syrian gentleman offer her his protection. He says he would love to show her the sights in Damascus, such as the Great Mosque. Harriet accepts and off they go. He takes her to the Great Mosque. Later she goes with him to a cafe for cakes and coffee. He asks her if she is married, why did she come alone to Damascus and how long will she stay? Probably fortunately for her, Bill Castlebar and Angela come driving by and beep the horn at Harriet. She runs up to the car. They tell her to climb in. She goes back to the Syrian man and tells him thank you and then runs back to the car. Angela puts her up at her hotel. She asks Harriet if she has left Guy? She says: "Perhaps I have, but I didn't mean to." She just had to get away from him for awhile. When she was with him she still always felt alone.
Edwina asks Dobson if she should marry her Major? She says she has already waited too long to marry. Guy comes down to the lobby and sits down to read. Dobson tells Guy that Aidan is dead. He shot himself. Guy is upset and leaves. Edwina tells Dobson that Aidan was crazy for Guy and that he probably killed himself over not being able to be with him.
Simon practices walking under the care of a therapist. Guy comes to visit him. With his crutches, Simon goes with Guy to the zoo. Later Simon and Guy climb to the top of a pyramid. Simon goes up like Harriet did by lifting herself up backwards to a sitting position on the next higher block. They both reach the top. Up there Guys asks Simon if Harriet ever talked about being unhappy? No, he says. No, not lonely. Just alone.
Edwina puts on a wedding gown. She asks Guy how she looks, but he is too busy with his book to really pay attention. She says that he better notice the next time he gets married. But Guy says that there won't be a next time. He tells her: "You can't rebuild societies and be a married man as well."
Bill and Harriet go to visit an old Byzantine church. Mortimer sees Harriet there and comes over to tell her that the ship she was supposed to be on was torpedoed with no survivors. She says: "Guy must think you're dead." Angela with a suffering Bill in the back drives Harriet back to Cairo. In Cairo a wedding is taking place for Edwina and her Major. Guy attends the reception. Suddenly Bill shows up in the room. He says he is looking for Guy Pringle. Everyone tells him Guy is here. When Bill sees Guy he says: "Listen, you bastard!" Angela is outside in the car with Harriet. She was in Syria and they brought her back. Edwina says she will fetch Harriet since they are good friends. Guy can't believe it. But Edwina does bring Harriet into the room. Guy is shocked to see her. Harriet says: "I wasn't sure you'd want me back." Guy goes over, hugs Harriet and cries.
Guy and Angela wait in the lobby for Harriet. She comes downstairs. Harriet wants to go somewhere but Guy says he has to speak to a group of radical Egyptian students. Angela can't believe Guy. Harriet comes back and Guy wants to go to work rather than be with his wife who in a way just came back from the dead. Just then Bill cries out in pain. They have to get him to the hospital immediately. At the hospital, Bill's wife Mona shows up. Bill's doctor tells her not to disturb the patient. He has a perforated bowel.
Harriet and Angela are getting ready to go see Bill in the hospital. Dobson answers the phone. He has to tell Harriet and Angela that Bill died in the hospital.
Simon, Harriet and Guy go to the funeral for Bill. Afterwards they go climbing up the pyramid again. Once up there Guy asks Harriet: "Never leave me again, will you?" Harriet says: "Don't know. . . . Can't promise. . . . Probably not."
My wife didn't like the movie. She says it was slow, the characters were having too much sex with each other and Guy was an unsympathetic character. Yes, the movie had some flaws. The marriage of Guy and Harriet was a very poor one. Guy was a self-centered, arrogant prick who ignored his wife and Harriet was to wimpy to speak up for herself and demand better treatment and some attention from her husband. We care more for Harriet than Guy, but Harriet was also flawed because she wouldn't speak up and protest Guy's poor behavior. Neither of us cared what happened to Guy, except as it might affect Harriet. And the film was slow at times. The first two episodes were especially slow. We just kept meeting character after character with nothing much happening. The movie did pick up as time went along and the Germans got deeper and deeper into the Balkans.
But overall I did enjoy the movie. One reason is because the film deals with what happened in the early years in Bucharest, Romania during World War II and there are so very few films about Romania. Romania became another fascist country along with Germany, Italy, Spain and Argentina. The events sped up as the Germans entered Bucharest and the British community had to get out of town. Most went to Athens, but soon had to flee from there to Cairo because the Germans were driving south toward Athens As the movie picked up speed interesting things started happening to the various characters and it was interesting to learn their fates.
The ending was a bit disappointing because Guy did not really learn anything from what happened to him. And Harriet still did not set him straight. So why wouldn't there just be a repeat of what happened, since neither of them seem to have changed?
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
Return To Main Page
Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)