Whenever I watch something dealing with World War II- be it a documentary or a film- I wonder what it would have been to live then. When I hear of how families lost their sons, brothers, and husbands I wonder about two of my brothers who are twenty-three and twenty and how they would most likely have been drafted. I think of what if I had lost them and I shudder at such a morbid thought. I could never think of what would have happened to me and my parents and my youngest brother if my two brothers had to fight in a war let alone God forbid die. Sometimes I even wonder if being a woman I would have fallen in love with a soldier and maybe have been a war bride. Imagining all the worrying I would do makes me shudder too.
In the 1947 film Desire, Greer Garson plays a French woman named Marise Aubert. Marise has lost her husband in the War. She goes to her doctor and tells him that she does not think she will live much longer because she is in so much pain. The pain she feels is not physical. The doctor says that there is something she is not facing. Marise responds she would rather die than face what she needs to face. Ashe tells the doctor of what has happened in the past few months.
Marise’s husband Paul (Robert Mitchum) came from the French seaside province Brittany. Both she and Paul had been very happy together. Unfortunately their happiness did not last long because of the War. Sometime during the War Paul is captured and sent to a camp that houses the most dangerous criminals. While in the camp Paul talks to another soldier named Jean about his beloved Marise. After five years in the camp together Jean knows that Marise still loves Paul because of how much Paul loves her.
After the War Jean goes to Paul and Marise’s house. Paul had told Jean so much about the house he feels right at home. When he arrives Marise is not home. He thinks of all the things Paul had told him over the years. When Marise comes home she thinks Jean, sitting at the piano, is her husband. She tells him she refuses to believe Paul is dead. Jean tells her that Paul died while trying to escape to get back home. Jean confesses to Marise that the way he stayed sane was by listening to Paul talk about her and about being home. As Jean sits and smokes one of Paul’s pipe he thinks back to the night they tried to escape. Paul had survived and how he had called out to him (Jean) to be saved.
Marise lets Jean stay in the house until he can get back on his feet. In the mean time they spend hours together on the beach and around town. Jean is hiding a secret. He knows that Paul survived. One he finds a letter that was written by Paul to Marise. The letter said that Paul would be coming home as soon as he can. Now Jean wants to marry Marise and take her away to Paris so she can belong to him and not Paul. Marise is a little hesitant at first. She still feels Paul is everywhere even in his fishing business and cannot bring herself to sell it. She thinks everything over. She is not a Brtion the sea town was not her home the people are not her people. She decides to sell the house and the business.
Paul arrives in town. The man who brought his business is the first one to see the returning soldier. Jean goes to the town priest. He confesses he knew that Paul was alive the whole time. Marise is happy to see Paul. He asks her about the letter he sent her and she says she never got it. She tells him about Jean and when she mentions his name Paul knows which Jean she is talking about.
Back at the doctor’s office Marise feels guilty about what happened to Jean. She feels what happened did so because of her. Her heart is still heavy when she leaves but she is once again happy when she is with Paul again.
Desire Me was very good. Greer Garson and Robert Mitchum I felt were oddly cast together but they worked. Mitchum always seemed so cold and tough in his films while Garson was soft and feminine. I guess that mixture worked and created good chemistry. Jean was a bit of a creepy character. I hope things like this never really happened after the War. Like all the dramas before this and after this until the 1960s the ending was always happy the man always came back and he ended up with the one he was supposed to really be with. I only suggest watching Desire Me if you are a fan of either Robert Mitchum or Greer Garson. I liked the film but it is not one I would suggest to everyone. You know how the story is going to end and some part are over drawn.