Cinerama: Hanover Street

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

Hanover Street

By Mike Derderian

Star Staff Writer

I look at the ticking clock, the handles point at twelve thirty.

The suffering of night and day is now amidst.

A fragmented hour, so I ask myself is life all worthy?

After parting without a lover’s kiss, whom you’ve missed.

Lately, I haven’t been able to write any poems, which is no surprise due to my “dereliction of duties”. Still, the words above were inspired after watching the 1979 ‘Hanover Street’, starring Harrison Ford, Leslie Ann Down, Patsy Kensit and Christopher Plummer, whom you’ve all seen and loved in the ‘Sound of Music’ as Captain Von Trapp opposite Julie Andrews.

If you are one of those people who can taste poetry then you’ll understand that life’s value is only added when you have a person to share it with; according to David Halloran (Ford), the antihero from Hanover Street, all things come into logic whenever he is with the woman he loves—Margaret (Ann Dawn).

It is ironic how life gives and takes. One moment you aren’t afraid to die, with no worries at all; the next you shudder at the mere thought of the grim-reaper knocking on your door. Why the change? And why does blind courage vanish once you have met with that person who manages to add some meaning into your world—not to mention pain and this is the part we all hate about love, don’t we?

Referring to Halloran’s words that he will ‘hang’ around waiting for her in the street, where they met during a German air raid, even if she doesn’t come—if you add a G after the N, the title would become Hangover Street, which alludes to the sensations induced from awaiting a loved one.

A romance set in London during the upheavals of World War II, this film directed by Peter Hyams tackles war, honor and love within the boundaries of infidelity; and to be more specific a triangle of love where we have two men in love with the same women and only one of them is married to her.

War is a time when morals and ethics seem to crumble, when the sanctity of marriage no longer counts; war allows an outlet for repressed feelings, as we question our existence and, sometimes, beliefs.

In Margaret’s case, it was about her marriage to the mild-mannered British intelligence officer Paul Sellinger (Plummer), and her attraction to Halloran’s irresistible persona.

Halloran—a sarcastic American pilot of a B52 bomber, who recklessly flies over German territories packed with anti-aircraft guns—falls in love with Margaret, the British nurse who unlike other war film female protagonists is married and has a daughter (played by a very young Patsy Kensit).

Halloran, in his own way, is the regular hero and leader; cool under pressure, less words and more action, all under a tough exterior that hides a tender personality waiting for the right catalyst to unleash its vulnerable side—and bumping into Margaret did just that.

This, also, brought out the antihero in Halloran, who begins to doubt the whole purpose of this war and his flying over hostile territories—as now he has something, if not everything, to lose.

If you say, “I’ve seen it all before in films like ‘Pearl Harbor’, ‘To Whom the Bells Toll’, ‘Till We Meet Again’…etc,” then you are partly correct; however, what made ‘Hanover Street’ special was the unraveling of its climax into an unanticipated end where the viewer touches upon Halloran’s change and enjoys the film’s visuals like the serene opening sequence of clouds with John Barry’s musical score heightening the vigor of this passionate film.

Before they were deeply involved with each other, Margaret in the beginning refused to tell David her name, a detail that added a humorous effect within the tragedy of their forbidden love, especially with Ford’s charming ability to portray a goofy, yet irresistible, lover as seen in ‘Working Girl’ and ‘Sabrina’.

The funniest moment in the film is when both of them are driving through the countryside; Margaret is passionately embracing David, who gently leans towards her and says, “Now if you are embarrassed that your name is Fred, it is alright, don’t be.”

Despite of Hanover Street’s gentle and slow flow of action, it has quite an exciting sequence that involves both David and Margaret’s husband Paul, who are joined together in a covert operation in France to acquire important documents from a Gestapo headquarter.

From that moment on, the Harrison Ford action effect kicks in, despite the simplicity of the whole adventure that involved disguising themselves as Nazis, an exciting motor jump and a daring suspension bridge action; however, if you might find it dull compared to nowadays action, bear in mind that it was shot in 1979.

‘Hanover Street’ the title in itself alludes to sorrow and love. It will touch upon your heart as you watch the passionate chemistry between the English beauty Leslie Ann Down and Harrison Ford’s ageless charm on screen—despite the somehow controversial plot.

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