If Winter Comes

If Winter Comes

Theatrical poster
Directed by Victor Saville
Produced by Pandro S. Berman
Written by Arthur Wimperis
Marguerite Roberts
A.S.M. Hutchinson (novel)
Music by Herbert Stothart
Cinematography George J. Folsey
Edited by Ferris Webster
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • December 31, 1947 (1947-12-31)
Running time
97 min
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,740,000[1]
Box office $1,949,000[1]

If Winter Comes is a 1947 drama film released by MGM. The movie was directed by Victor Saville, based on the novel by A.S.M. Hutchinson. The film tells the story of an English textbook writer who takes in a pregnant girl. The novel had previously been made into the 1923 film If Winter Comes.[2]


Set in the English village Penny Green in 1939, the film focuses on Mark Sabre, an author and publisher who is unhappily married to Mabel, a humorless and cold woman who usually spends her days gossiping with the townspeople. When Mark finds out his former sweetheart Nona Tybar is returning to Penny Green, Mark, unlike his wife, is delighted. Nona is married to a man named Tony Tyber, but is still in love with Mark. Mabel is aware of Mark's feelings for Nona, and encourages him to spend time with her, thinking he will eventually decide with whom he wants to spend his life.

As the war starts, Tony is called into the military, while Mark attempts to join up but a doctor finds a heart condition and prevents him. Nona leaves Penny Green in order to join the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. Life becomes quiet for Mark, until Effie Bright, who is disowned by her father for having become pregnant, turns to him for help.

Mark helps Effie, and lets her live in his home while he looks for a better situation for her. This causes a great scandal. His boss had been looking for a way to fire Mark, and, as a result of the morals clause at his place of employment, he loses his job. Mabel leaves Mark, under the impression that Mark has fathered Effie's baby. The townspeople soon denounce Mark and when Effie, who was already mentally under stress because the father of her baby, off at war, hadn't written her, and she is served with the notice that she is co-respondent in the divorce, so she commits suicide by poisoning herself. At the inquest to determine Effie's cause of death, numerous witnesses give anecdotal incomplete evidence suggesting a sexual relationship between Mark and Effie. Nona appears, having just learned of Tony's death, and makes a short speech in support of Mark's character. The inquest determines that Effie's cause of death was suicide, though they censure Mark for his behavior.

Returning home, a distraught Mark finds a note addressed to him from Effie. In it, Effie names her lover. It happens to be Harold Twyning, the son of one of Mark's coworkers at the publishing company. Mark furiously heads to the company to confront the young Twyning's father, but when he gets there, the man is grief-stricken, just having received the news that his son has been killed in the war. Mark decides not to share the letter with him, but, just as he is about to burn the letter, he has a heart attack, and passes out.

Weeks pass as Mark convalesces. Nona returns to Mark, and they burn Effie's letter together.



Producer David O. Selznick bought the rights of the novel in 1939 and intended on casting either Joan Fontaine or Vivien Leigh in the female lead roles and Leslie Howard or Laurence Olivier in the male leads.[3] Furthermore, John Cromwell was assigned as the film's director.[3] Production was supposed to start on March 1, 1940, but Selznick eventually abandoned the project and sold the rights to Alexander Korda.[3]

In 1943, Robert Donat was set to star and the production, which was still under direction of Korda, was set to be filmed on location.[3] Donat was supposed to reteam with Greer Garson, with whom he previously starred in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939).[4] However, when Donat suddenly became unavailable, he was replaced by Walter Pidgeon in October 1943.[5] Because the reteaming collapsed, Garson's part went to Deborah Kerr, whose participation was confirmed in April 1947.[4][6] Direction eventually went to Victor Saville, who had no interest in the project but agreed to direct it in order to work with Kerr.[7]

Impressed by her performance in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), Saville assigned Angela Lansbury as Mabel Sabre.[4] The casting of Janet Leigh followed in the summer of 1947.[4] Her accent in the film was coached by the niece of C. Aubrey Smith.[4]

Saville, determined on making films visually more realistic, introduced "indirect lighting" in the film.[8]


The film earned $1,115,000 in the US and Canada and $834,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $465,000.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 "The Eddie Mannix Ledger". Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study{{inconsistent citations}}.
  2. "If Winter Comes: Notes". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Notes for If Winter Comes (1948)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "If Winter Comes: Overview Article". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
  5. "Pidgeon to Be Star of Metro Remake of 'If Winter Comes' -- Two Films Due Today". The New York Times. 1943-10-08. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
  6. Brady, Thomas F. (1947-04-18). "DEBORAH KERR GETS ROLE IN NEW MOVIE; Will Co-star With Pidgeon in 'If Winter Comes' at Metro -- Saville Is Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
  7. Evergreen: Victor Saville in his own words by Victor Saville and Roy Moseley. p.171
  8. Evergreen: Victor Saville in his own words by Victor Saville and Roy Moseley. p.172

External links

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