Love Story (1944 film)

Love Story

DVD cover
Directed by Leslie Arliss
Produced by Harold Huth
Written by Rodney Ackland (dialogue)
Screenplay by
  • Leslie Arliss
  • Doreen Montgomery
Based on "Love Story"
by J.W. Drawbell
Music by Louis Levy
Cinematography Bernard Knowles
Edited by Charles Knott
Distributed by
  • Eagle-Lion Distributors (UK)
  • Universal Pictures (USA)
Release dates
  • 20 November 1944 (1944-11-20) (UK)
Running time
113 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £125,000[1]

Love Story is a 1944 British black-and-white romance film directed by Leslie Arliss and starring Margaret Lockwood, Stewart Granger, and Patricia Roc. Based on a short story by J.W. Drawbell, the film is about a concert pianist who, after learning that she is dying of heart failure, decides to spend her last days in Cornwall. While there, she meets a former RAF pilot who is going blind, and soon a romantic attraction forms.[2] Released in the United States as A Lady Surrenders, this wartime melodrama produced by Gainsborough Pictures was filmed on location at the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno in Cornwall, England.[3]


Concert pianist Felicity Crichton [Lissa Campbell] (Margaret Lockwood) decides to leave her successful music career behind and devote herself to something more directly connected to the British war effort. After announcing her retirement from the concert stage, she applies for a position with the RAF as a WASP, but is rejected for health reasons. Soon after, she learns from her doctor that she is suffering from a heart condition and that she does not have long to live.

Determined to live out her final months as fully as possible, she goes to a small coastal resort in Cornwall. Not wanting to be recognised by her stage name Felicity Crichton, she introduces herself as Lissa. She is soon befriended by Tom Tanner (Tom Walls), a salty old Yorkshireman. He is on government assignment to investigate mines in the area. Although he sees that she is sad, he does not pry into her personal life.

One day, she meets Kit Firth (Stewart Granger), a brash young engineer, and the two form an immediate attraction. She does not know that Kit will soon be blind—the result of an injury while in the RAF. The only person who knows is Judy (Patricia Roc), his platonic friend from childhood who is secretly in love with him. Meanwhile, Tom arranges access to a piano for Lissa, and soon she begins composing a piece inspired by her new environment and by Kit. Later, Kit introduces Lissa to Judy, who is working on a stage play for the open-air theatre at the resort. Pressed for funds, Judy turns to Tom, who agrees to invest in her production of The Tempest.

Kit and Lissa spend more time together and their romance seems to be growing, but whenever things become too serious, Kit backs away. Lissa grows increasingly frustrated with Kit's flippant behaviour, especially after he refuses Tom's offer of supervise the reopening of a mine in which Kit has found much-needed molybdenum, and finally breaks up with him. Later, Kit turns to Judy and confesses that he has never met anyone as understanding as Lissa.

The next day, the town is shaken by the news of a mining accident that has trapped Tom and his crew. When Kit descends the mine to rescue them, he too becomes trapped in a second cave-in. Kit is able to rescue them, proving he is not a coward. When she goes to his house and finds him practising reading Braille, everything falls into place. She urges him to try surgery, but he tells her the doctors said his chances of coming out alive were 100 to one, and that Judy had talked him out of it.

Later that night, Lissa confronts Judy and gets her to admit she views the impending blindness as a godsend for her; he would have to turn to her. They strike a bargain: Lissa will leave him if Judy persuades Kit to have the operation.

After Kit leaves for London to have the surgery, Judy and her company prepare for the opening of their play. On the day of the premiere, Judy is unable to go on stage—distraught by the fear that Kit may die during the operation. Lissa takes her place on stage and performs her new musical composition that was inspired by her relationship with Kit. During her performance, she is overwhelmed by the same fear, and faints.

When Lissa comes to, she is reassured that all is well with Kit. When Judy thanks her for giving up Kit, Lissa admits that she is not giving up much—because she is dying. True to her word, she says goodbye to Kit, saying she will be going on a world tour and may not see him again. Despite his profession of love for her, Lissa leaves, heartbroken. In the coming weeks, Lissa travels around the world entertaining the troops. Meanwhile, Kit proposes to Judy and she accepts, but their relationship lacks passion. Despite Tom's advice to accept the truth and not cheat another woman out of the love she deserves, Judy remains firm that she will not give up Kit.

Sometime later, Lissa is performing at the Royal Albert Hall in London. After her final number, she spots Kit in the wings, dressed in his RAF uniform, and she runs offstage into his arms before fainting. When she recovers, she sees that Judy is with him. Recognizing that he will always love Lissa, Judy announces, to Kit's surprise, that they will not be getting married—Kit never belonged to her. After Judy leaves, Lissa finally reveals that she only has a few months to live. Kit tells her, "We're all living dangerously. There isn't any certainty anymore. It's just today, and the hope of tomorrow. Oh, darling, please, let's take all the happiness we can, while we can. Don't be afraid." Lissa tells him she will never be afraid any more.



Arliss admitted inspiration from a number of magazine stories, called "Love and Forget", "The Ship Sailed at Night" and "A Night in Algiers".[4]

Love Story was filmed at Gaumont-British Studios in Lime Grove, Shepherd's Bush, London, and the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno in Cornwall, England.[5] The final concert scenes were filmed at the Royal Albert Hall in London.[3]

Stewart Granger was making Waterloo Road at the same time as this film. He says Gainsborough was bombed while making Love Story, which he later called "a load of crap - and a smash hit!"[6]


Advertisement for the film on display in Sydney, Australia (1946)

The film was very popular at the British box office.[7] According to trade papers, the film was a success at the British box office in 1944.[8]

In his review of the DVD version, Jeremy Arnold excused the film's overly melodramatic storyline and lack of realism and appreciated the context in which the film was released. "For wartime British audiences," Arnold wrote, "a melodramatic romance dealing with death, heroism and sacrifice, lushly photographed amidst the shores of Cornwall, must have served as a shot in the arm."[3] Arnold found the film to be "so skillfully made that what seems like contrived melodrama in the abstract comes off more as just a sweeping romantic aura on screen."[3] Arnold praised the acting in the film, writing that Lockwood "delivers a solid performance" and that the supporting actors, Tom Walls and Patricia Roc, stole the film. A well-known comic actor of the British stage and screen whose career began in 1905, Walls appeared in Love Story toward the end of his life. Patricia Roc was in some ways the more desirable of the two romantic choices, according to Arnold, who noted that "our eyes go to her more than to Lockwood whenever the two share the screen."[3]

Film scholar William K. Everson wrote that the film "enabled the housewives, themselves much put upon, to wallow in the greater and more artificial self-sacrifice shown on the screen and to find in it a kind of contemporary escapism."[3]


  1. Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 By Robert Murphy p 55
  2. "Love Story". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Arnold, Jeremy. "Love Story". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  4. NOTES ABOUT BIRDS AND PICTURES FROM LONDON By C.A. LEJEUNE. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 Oct 1943: X3.
  5. "Locations for Love Story". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  6. Brian MacFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema, Methuen 1997 p 230
  7. GAUMONT-BRITISH PICTURE: INCREASED NET PROFIT The Observer (1901- 2003) [London (UK)] 04 Nov 1945: 3.
  8. Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p 207
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