Brief Encounter (1946)

 ●  English ● 1 hr 43 mins

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Set in 1945, against the chaotic backdrop of World War II, this touching romantic drama delves into the platonic love story between Laura, a housewife, and a doctor she happens to meet at a railway station. While at the waiting room of a railway station, Alec Harvey's kind act of removing grit from Laura's eye, sparks an attraction, that first blossoms into friendship and then grows further, into love. However, Laura is married and consumed by the guilt of having an extramarital affair. As they continue to meet every Thursday in the small café, with their passion for each other growing stronger with each meeting, how will their relationship pan out? Will Laura break boundaries to unite with Alec or will they go their separate ways?
See Storyline (May Contain Spoilers)

Cast: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard

Crew: David Lean (Director), Robert Krasker (Director of Photography), Sergei Rachmaninoff (Music Director)

Rating: U (India)

Genres: Drama, Romance

Release Dates: 24 Aug 1946 (India)

Tagline: A story of the most precious moments in woman's life!

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Did you know? The original Broadway production, from which this movie was adapted, was presented as the one act play "Still Life" as part of the repertory presentation "Tonight at 8:30" that opened at the National Theatre on November 24, 1936 and ran for 118 performances with a cast that included Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence. Read More
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as Laura Jesson
as Dr Alec Harvey
as Dolly Messiter
as Myrtle Bagot
as Beryl Walters
as Albert Godby






Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography


Music Director


Art Director


Film Type:
Feature Film
Colour Info:
Black & White
Sound Mix:
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1, 1.37 : 1
A story of the most precious moments in woman's life!
Revealing Mistakes
When Laura buys a brandy for herself late in the film she hand over a single coin which the girl throws into the register without giving change. We later see that she rang up 10d, the price stated earlier in the film for the same drink. The was no 10d coin.

Errors in Geography
Carnforth Station has had its name board covered and replaced with a big sign reading Milford Junction, but the smaller platform notices (behind Laura when Alec tells her about the job in South Africa) still show the next train's destinations as Hellifield, Skipton, Bradford and Leeds.

In the middle of the film the refreshment room owner pours milk into Albert's tea twice, once just before and again just after the point of view changes.

When Laura is running away from Dr. Lynn's apartment in the rain, her book is next to her body, under her purse. Halfway down the street, the angle changes on the still-running Laura, but now the book is outside her purse. And it never gets wet!

As Laura enters the apartment, the pattern of water marks on her back changes.

Laura runs through a downpour but is dry when she walks into the refreshment room.

Character Error
Near the beginning of the film Laura's husband refers to a Symphony concert he once took her to. Later Laura tells Alec that her husband is not musical.
Laura and Alec have lunch at the Kardomah. This was a real chain of coffee houses throughout England a rival to the more ubiquitous Lyon's Corner Houses.

The original Broadway production, from which this movie was adapted, was presented as the one act play "Still Life" as part of the repertory presentation "Tonight at 8:30" that opened at the National Theatre on November 24, 1936 and ran for 118 performances with a cast that included Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence.

The poem that Fred asks Laura's assistance with is by John Keats, "When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be", the actual quote being 'When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face, Huge cloudy symbols of a high Romance ....'.

Old Arabic Love Poem on Persian Rug: when Laura comes to see Alec at his friend's flat, there is a Middle Eastern rug hung on the wall. The style of the rug itself confirms it is Persian, however, the beautiful calligraphy is Arabic. It is from a 9th century love poem by the Arab poet Ali Bin Salwa Al-qusari. it reads from right-hand corner of the rug and going anti-clockwise: The Utterance of Passion - In My Eye - Speaks To You.

On her first trip to Milford after meeting Dr. Harvey, Laura walks past a bookstore window. On display are a range of books published in 1944/45, including "Something in my Heart" by Walter Greenwood, "A Showman Goes East" by Carroll Levis, "The End of the Mildew Gang" by S. Fowler Wright, "Capri Moon" by Kelman Dalgety Frost, "Winter's Tales" by Karen Blixen, "Triple Mirror" by Kathleen Wallace, "Once a Jolly Swagman" by Montagu Slater, and "Grand Barrage" by Gun Buster (aka John Charles Austin).

The film trailer they see is for 'Flames of Passion', a fictional film, supposedly based on a novel, 'Gentle Summer' by Alice Porter Stoughey, both fictional.

The two films that Laura and Alec choose between, 'The Loves of Cardinal Richelieu' and 'Love in the Mist', are fictional.

Use of the Second Piano Concerto by Sergei Rachmaninoff was chosen for the film's soundtrack by Noel Coward.

The screenplay was adapted and based on Noel Coward's 1935 short one-act (half-hour) stage play "Still Life". It was expanded from five short scenes in a train station (the refreshment tea room of Milford Junction Station) to include action in other settings (Laura's house, the apartment of the Dr.Harvey's friend, restaurants, parks, train compartments, shops, a car, a boating lake and at the cinema).

Alec's age is never stated, though he refers to himself as middle-aged and looks it. In fact Trevor Howard would only have been 31/32 at the time of filming.

Laura borrows books by Kate O'Brien. Kate O'Brien (1897 - 1974), was an Irish novelist and playwright.

This movie was David Lean's first Oscar nomination as director.

David Lean, Anthony Havelock-Allan, Ronald Neame and Noel Coward all wanted Celia Johnson to play the part of Laura Jesson. Johnson hated making films, but after Coward read the part to her in October 1944, she knew that she had to play that part.

The first choice for the Doctor Alec Harvey had been Roger Livesey, but when David Lean and Anthony Havelock-Allan saw Trevor Howard, in a rough cut of Johnny in the Clouds (1945) they decided to offer the part to Trevor Howard, who at that time was an unknown actor, who had been invalided out of the army.

Laura borrows books from the Boots Lending Library. Such Lending Libraries were an offshoot of Boots Pharmacies. Boots is a major pharmacy chain in the UK. It was founded in 1849 and still exists, although in a much different, more diversified form. The Lending Libraries were started in 1898.

On initial release, the film was banned by the strict censorship board in Ireland on the grounds that it portrayed an adulterer in a sympathetic light.

Carnforth station was chosen partly because it was so far from the South East of England that it would receive sufficient warning of an air-raid attack that there would be time to turn out the filming lights to comply with wartime blackout restrictions.

According to several Billy Wilder biographies, the scene in this film where Alec tries to use a friend's apartment in order to be alone with Laura inspired Wilder to write The Apartment (1960).