I Once Saw a Movie…

My mother had a favourite war romance, a movie she liked more than any other. When I was a kid it was on TV once and we watched it together. I wasn’t as taken with the film as she was but thinking of her, I often thought of that movie as well. Since she passed away, I couldn’t ask her the name of the movie. All I remembered was that two people met during an air raid and that the woman was forced into prostitution later. And something about a bridge. I asked many people whether they knew the film. Nobody did. I couldn’t remember the title, nor the actors, nor the end. However I was 100% sure it was a WWII movie and pretty sure it was British.

Well, as the picture above may indicate, I’ve found it meanwhile. It was the US black and white WWI and WWII set movie Waterloo Bridge.  The prostitution element is quite important and it stayed with me. However with that alone I wouldn’t have found the movie. I did a laborious search including movies – war – bridges. Since “bridge” was part of the title, it was more or less easy to find it. Unfortunately that’s not always how it goes.

More than one movie someone is looking for will never be found. There are many reasons. The most important being that memory plays tricks. We think we saw a German movie but it was American with a German point of view. Or Russian. Very often we only remember one little scene. The scene is what stayed with us, it impressed us and has an importance in our memory that it may not even have had in the movie.

Why am I writing all this?

I get a lot of e-mails. E-mails by people who are looking for a movie. A movie they have seen. A movie someone else has seen. A movie they have heard of. They hope that I will be able to either find it or help them find it. I have to admit that I often fail. Because I like to help, it frustrates me when I’m not able to find a movie and I know that people are extremely disappointed.

On the other hand it’s so great when I manage to find a movie. Funny enough, it’s hardly ever after the initial e-mail but only after I wrote back and ask a few specific questions that we are successful. Sometimes my questions even help people find the movie on their own.

And here is what is really important: You may think you have forgotten most of the movie but you haven’t. You remember far more but you don’t think it’s important. For you it’s important that someone sang a song in a sequence, while this isn’t even a side story but just a brief moment. But trust me, you do remember a lot more.

If you are looking for a movie try to think about the below questions first and include the answers in your mail.

Which war?

What language?

Was it a subtitled or a dubbed movie?

What country of origin?

Black and white?

Any idea how old?

Who was the main character?

Famous actors or not so famous actors?

Where was it set? Countryside or town?

What season and weather conditions?

Was it a “real” war movie or rather a war themed movie?

It is very rare that people look for combat movies and that makes it even more difficult because there are so many war themed movies out there. To get the (sub) genre right, can be crucial.

If you really don’t remember a lot, don’t hesitate to write anyway. It may still work.  Not long ago someone only remembered that there was a sequence in a movie in which a pair of boots was changing their owner. The very same scene had impressed me as well and the movie – All Quiet on the Western Front (the 30s original, the scene is not in the remake) – was found.

I still haven’t re-watched Waterloo Bridge but I would like to. I’m pretty sure I would enjoy it much more now than when I was a child.

Are there any movies you have been desperately looking for?

8 thoughts on “I Once Saw a Movie…

  1. the war movie buff says:

    Great post. I know how frustrating you must feel and how disappointed I have been when I have not been able to help you. But the thrill of the chase is exhilarating.

    • Thanks Kevin. It was funny, it just happened again yesterday, right after I’d scheduled the post. After I’ve asked the person a few questions, he found it. I must say, it would have been easy if I had seen it as the the small scene was in the end extremely important. Once he remembered the main actor, it was easy.

  2. Guy Savage says:

    I’ve been lucky enough to find the titles of the films I looked for, but you are right, it can be extremely frustrating just to have these fragments of memories that you can’t tie to a film title.

    I have Waterloo Bridge but haven’t watched it yet.

    May I suggest that if you are ever stumped by an e-mail request, you make a post on the topic.

    • I was thinking about putting it on the blog in the beginning, but believe me it’s more than once a week by now that’s why I posted this.
      I’m curious to see what I will think of Waterloo Bridge now.
      Oh these bits of memories are so tormenting. I really feel for the people who write to me.
      I still have at least 5 open cases. Maybe I should post those. Some are older requests but the people would still be happy, I’m sure.

  3. TBM says:

    I haven’t heard of this film. I should watch it. I’m glad you finally found it Caroline. I’ll have to remember your tips the next time I can’t remember the name of a film. I find I do this more with books. I used to have an excellent memory…and now…

  4. […] I wrote in a recent post I get quite a few requests, either via comments or e-mail, from people looking for a movie. […]

  5. […] I wrote before (here and here) I often receive e-mails from people who look for movies. Luckily I find many of them but not all […]

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