The Journey (1959) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
30 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Yul Brynner at his best.
fiona davidson17 October 2004
Set in Hungary in November 1956, this is the story of a group of foreign nationals who were trying to leave the country at the time of the Uprising.

Once the airport is closed, the titular journey begins on a bus taking them to Austria. As would be obvious, they are stopped on their way which is where they come up against the almost faultless Yul Brynner whose military power as a Red Army Major was marked with loneliness, his internal struggle between right and wrong, his search for the truth and his need to feel emotions for other human beings. He was saddened by the fact that his job had alienated him from his friends and enemies alike and he yearned for social contact.

Robert Morley plays the quintessential stiff upper-lipped Englishman who, no matter how serious the role, manages to maintain an almost light-hearted logical outlook on life while Jason Robards has a stunning movie debut which enforces the reason why he had so many roles throughout his career. Deborah Kerr, as the leading lady, exhibits the grace and femininity we have come to associate with her yet manages to bring over the strength and resolve required for her character.

The film deals with a very tempestuous time in European history but it never ceases to remind us that there is good in all of us and you can never completely judge a book by the cover. Fabulous scriptwriting ensures that for all the seriousness of the subject there can still be great one-liners and comedic instances that add to, rather than detract from the movie. The chemistry in the cat and mouse game between Kerr and Brynner makes you understand why they appeared in more than the one film together.

All in all, a thoroughly engrossing movie which I would definitely watch again. 8/10
33 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Very realistic film
capndrakeimdb27 April 2006
Set during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, this story has all the suspense of a good cold war book or movie as a multinational group of foreigners attempt to smuggle Jason Robards out of Hungary into Austria. However, three things complement the story, making this an extremely good movie.

First, the actors use the actual languages of their roles. The Russian soldiers speak only Russian; the Hungarians only Hungarian; the Germans only German, except to the minimal extent to tell the story. Since Debra Kerr is English, she speaks only English, and, of course, Yul Brynner and a few others essential to the story also speak heavily accented English. As a result, the empathy of the audience to the travelers becomes paramount. The viewer shares all the confusion and suspense of being involved in an illicit border crossing when he/she cannot understand any of the languages spoken around them. Very powerful feelings are aroused in the audience, and notwithstanding the heavy use of foreign languages, the audience is never at a loss for following the film. No subtitles are necessary.

Second. I was in Hungary in 1995, and I'm telling you, this movie has it right on. From the gypsy music overpowering the dinner meal to the underground caverns in the buildings where much of the action takes place to the village scenes, the realism is incredible. If I didn't eat in the actual restaurant in the movie, I ate at its double. I thought that I actually walked down the main street in that village. (Actually, the film was shot in Austria).

Third, and most important, this movie reunites Deberah Kerr and Yul Brynner (after The King and I) and the magnetism between them as the story unfolds is nothing short of Oscar qualified. Of course, Yul already received an Oscar for playing that relationship, so the Acadamy wasn't going to give him another one, but that is the quality of the film. Don't miss this one.
32 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Yul and Deborah Try Again for Love
smithy-822 October 2003
"The Journey" is a romantic version of the cold war. It's about an English woman (Deborah Kerr) trying to smuggle her former love, a Hungarian scientist (Jason Robards, Jr.), out of Hungary during the Hungary Revolt in 1956. She's on board a bus with thirteen other international people who are trying to get out of Hungary through the Austrian border.

Of course, the bus gets stopped by the Russians for a security check. The Russian officer-in-charge (Yul Brynner) becomes attracted to the English woman (Deborah Kerr)and delays the trip. Of course, the Russian officer knows the truth about the Hungarian scientist posing as a British citizen, but he decides not to arrest the scientist because he is waiting for the English woman to come to him. Of course, this all sounds absurd, but it is a fun movie to watch. Despite the romantic flow of dialogue between Mr. Brynner and Ms. Kerr, which seems inappropriate in the situation that they are in, the movie becomes suspenseful and interesting. The good acting overrides some of the silly dialogue. Perhaps, some people involved in the Hungarian Revolt would not appreciate this movie; they would consider it a piece of fluff.

This is my favorite Yul Brynner role. He speaks with his own, masculine voice and is very attractive, especially when he becomes vulnerable. This is Deborah Kerr's second time working with Yul Brynner since they made "The King and I" in 1956. They make a very attractive couple. Too bad they never worked again. This was the second sexy role Ms. Kerr took since "From Here to Eternity". Despite the fact that Ms. Kerr was wearing heavy winter clothes throughout the movie, she was very beautiful and sensual.

The fine supporting cast was headed by Jason Robards, Jr., in his first film role. Some of the international cast were recognizable, like for instance, Robert Morley from England. However, the rest of the actors, I have never seen before or since, were just great in the movie. In the background, it was fun to see Senta Berger, as one of the maids, speak a few lines of Hungarian. A few years later in 1966, she was in a movie, "Cast a Giant Shadow", with Yul Brynner as his leading lady. She is still working today.
27 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Great performances, unusual Hollywood film
JuguAbraham17 October 2002
I have seen several Yul Brynner films--yet this is his best performance as the camera captures his emotions in close up as he snarls, smiles, and laughs. Brynner might have been equally arresting in Ten Commandments, Taras Bulba, The Magnificent Seven, The Brother Karamazov and the Mad Woman of Chaillot but none of these films have captured his range of talent in close ups as in this one. He is arresting and tantalizing to watch in every shot.

Equally fascinating and sexy, without removing her clothes, is Deborah Kerr. The script allows her to exude a sensuality that is not visual but suggestive--she reprised this sort of role years later in The Night of Iguana. The film does not suggest that she slept with anyone to help with the release of the group from the clutches of the Russians in fact she is shown as running away from the Russian Major (in contrast to the Maupassant story or the Isak Denisen story). Yet the film bursts with suggested but real physical allure of the Kerr character.

Kerr can never be classified as a beautiful actress in my view, but she is a superb actress. She puts her soul into dignifying the characters that she portrays, which often clashes with the spirit of the character. It is this contradiction that makes her roles in The journey, Quo Vadis, and The Night of Iguana memorable.

Why is this an unusual film? It is not easy in Hollywood to see Russian characters portrayed as good people--Dr Zhivago was an exception. Brynner's Romance of a Horse Thief was again great cinema by Abraham Polonsky but never acknowledged as such because of the intolerance towards Leftists in the post-McCarthy era.

The film is also unusual in its casting--great French actors Gerard Oury and Anouk Aimee--rub shoulders with Jason Robards Jr and British actor Robert Morley. In many ways the film is international than American. All four are great actors and add to the entertainment.

Those who have read Maupassant and Denisen's works will find the film is not true to either work. Yet the film can stand on its own as its sanitized (censored?) version has a dignified charm of its own--provided by the reality of the night that led to the release of the group. I think Litvak deserves to have the last laugh in providing an interesting and plausible twist to the tales that led to the making of the film, while entwining bits of both written tales (e.g. the last bus ride and the final kiss)

But I do have one grouse--why do Hollywood never acknowledge the sources that inspire the stories? Only recently (e.g., Insomnia) have the original works begun to be mentioned prominently in the credits.
22 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A passionate performance
howard.schumann22 January 2006
Yul Brynner is Major Surov, a singing, dancing, vodka-drinking Russian Officer stationed near the Austrian -Hungarian border during the Hungarian uprising of 1956 in Anatole Litvak's The Journey. Though the film has yet to be released on video or DVD, it remains one of Brynner's most compelling performances. Because of the political unrest, a group of travelers cannot fly out of Budapest but are put on a bus to Vienna. Before they can reach the border, however, their passports are taken and they are detained for questioning by the Russians led by Major Surov.

The Major has reason to suspect that there is a Hungarian freedom fighter among the group being smuggled out of the country. Indeed Lady Ashmore is hiding a mysterious passenger, Paul Fleming (Jason Robards, Jr.) who pretends to be an American but fools no one. She is helping Fleming mainly to repay a debt she owed because of the trouble her past association caused him. Among the other passengers are a British journalist played by Robert Morley, an American family played by E.G. Marshall, his wife Anne Jackson and their two children, one of which is the screen debut of little Ron Howard.

Major Surov takes a romantic interest in Lady Diana Ashmore (Deborah Kerr), and a romance of sorts develops between them. She offers him nothing but disdain and a stiff upper lip, however, though we suspect that underneath her heart still beats. The Cold War intrigue and the powerful acting carry the story but the romance is never quite convincing. It remains, however, one of my favorite Yul Brynner films and deserves to be seen if only for his passionate performance.
19 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Yul make my heart sing!
kehkehbia29 January 2008
This Film has such a Following! yet you cant buy it on DVD!

The Journey, is so engaging, that I can watch it again and again. The Russian Folk Songs, Fantastic! and Yul singing!

The Gypsy music, the intrigue.

The shear magnetism of the Magnificent YUL who comes across with an array of emotions.Powerful, proud, vulnerable against the gracious, serene Deborah Kerr. This film is even on view on youtube, its that potent. I just wish some one could tell me the name of those Russian folk songs! Especially the drinking ones.And I wish there was a recording of Yul singing them..(but thats asking a bit too much isn't it!)

So I emailed TCM Turner Movies on and asked them why they hadnt released it on DVD, Im awaiting an answer. They are mad, because lots of us would love a copy for a present wouldn't we?

13 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Made me a Yul fan for the first time
Caroline8881 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
As a big Dostoyevsky fan, I had always been disappointed with Hollywood's halfhearted attempts to get into the Russian romantic aesthetic -- case in point, Yul Brynner as Dmitri Karamazov. I had thought the whole problem was a poor casting decisions, but then I saw Yul as Major Surov and changed my mind. When given an intelligent script to work with, he suddenly came alive and was as noble, sexy, and conflicted as you could ever want a Neurotic Russian Officer to be! So he was a better Dmitri as Major Surov than he was as Dmitri. But that's because writer Tabori actually gave Yul, as the Conflicted Russian Officer, the kind of Conflicted Russian Officer lines that are worthy of real literature, and that have real meaning and pathos in them. For example, a propos of folk music, he says musingly, "You hear a man crying in the dark. And if you listen carefully enough, you know what he cries for. You look surprised, Lady Ashmore. Despite what you may have heard, tractors and Marxism aren't the only things the Russian cares for. There is always time for music."

6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I Luv Brynner !
darielles19 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I really enjoy this movie. The first time it was on Turner Classic Movies. All the actors did very well but Brynner steals the show again like always ( he is so sexy!).This is one of the movie that you do see Brynner's emotions. Actually this movie this is the first I ever seen him laugh because he plays very strong, larger-than-life and serious roles in other movies. In this movie you see both a masculine, tough and sensitive side of Brynner .Brynner seems to be a "ladies'man" in this movie.That is amazing how Brynner eats the glass cup and speaks in his Russian tongue it drives me crazy in love. I don't understand when both Brynner and Kerr ( they both have very good chemistry) stars in a movie together and then Brynner always die at the end it kind of reminds you "The King and I" in a way.
11 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the Best Cold War Dramas
jacksflicks30 September 2003
Whatever the inspiration for this story (the aforementioned Blixen reference is fascinating), as a movie it's maybe the best Cold War drama I've ever seen. Like "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold," "The Journey" transcends its genre. The basic plot is about the personal empathy between men and women, some ordinary, some extraordinary, and how it prevails when confronted by political hostility and cultural dislocation. Nevertheless, this is a tragedy, with a final irony that is completely unexpected.
13 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Elegant Execution
Bobbbbbbbb13 April 2001
A film shot and directed with a hand so steady it would seem a revelation if any director today could do anything close. Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr and Jason Robards are terrific. The staging of the actors - the performances - this is film making at its best.
13 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
east and west portrayed symbolically by the two major actors
eb_redbaron24 August 2000
a great movie, with a rather unclear political message. it´s shot in a theatrical style, i.c. most of the action takes place inside. mayor surov and diana ashcroft seem equally suspicious of each other. emotions run high since the western tourists and business-people seem unwilling and unable to yield to the eastern-russian charm of the mayor, although he makes every effort to understand their point of view. the two opposite world-views are made pointedly clear, but the movie also shows that human emotions cannot be controlled by politics. its powerfully acted and has a high emotional impact for a 50s movie.
11 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Journey-Love Transcends the Cold War ***1/2
edwagreen15 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Three years after the memorable "The King and I," Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner were reunited in this 1959 drama concerning itself with a group of people from around the globe caught up in the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Arriving in the last town of Hungary on their way to Austria, they are taken for interrogation by Russian army people led by Yul Brynner. Among the group is Kerr and Jason Robards. He is a Hungarian fleeing, and Kerr is his lover. Wounded, he can't come down and Brynner at once is suspicious.

Robert Morley is wonderful as the spokesman for the group, and we have E.G. Marshall married to Ann Jackson with 2 children.

You don't have to wonder why Brynner keeps the group. As in 'King' is as domineering as ever, and Kerr is appealing in her appeal to him for mercy.

We have an ending here quite similar to "Casablanca," but the cruelties of war and revolution can't take the time out for love or redemption of Brynner.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Yul rules!
FABabe26 August 2009
There have been many excellent comments about this movie and I want to add my voice to the praise. Yul Brynner has never been more powerfully attractive. His Major Surov was riveting. Your eyes just cannot leave the screen when he's on it. This is his movie. This is not to slight the rest of the cast which was also exemplary, especially Deborah Kerr and Anne Jackson. As they were mostly stage actors, they brought many nuances to their performances. For example, I have seen this movie at least 4 times, but this is the first time I noticed the reaction of the German girl when she came face-to-face with a Russian soldier. Even though he was not threatening, her absolutely hysterical reaction made me realize that she must have been in Germany after WWII and was most likely gang-raped by the Red Army. The possibility of discovering deeper layers of story that may lie just beneath the surface makes me want to see this fascinating film again and again. Please put it on DVD.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Hungarian Rebellion Of 1956
bkoganbing26 August 2009
The Hungarian Rebellion of 1956, fostered partly by bellicose rhetoric from the USA about 'rolling back the red tide' started and was left to wither without any support at all from the west, other than taking in refugees. I remember my third grade class taking in one such during the mid year. The satellite countries of Eastern Europe would have to wait until the Soviet Union collapsed for liberation. Then we always did not get what we'd like, for reference look at the former Yugoslavia.

The Journey is a film about a group of foreigners trapped within Hungary and seeking a way out. After being stuck in the Budapest Airport for a few days, the group is informed the Russians will provide transport to the Austrian border by bus. But one of the foreigners, a titled Englishwoman played by Deborah Kerr is traveling with Jason Robards, Jr., who is under an assumed name. Robards is Hungarian, a scientist and a supporter of the revolution.

They are stopped again near the border and detained in Kurt Kaszner's hotel while the Russians check on the passengers. Robards arouses Russian Major Yul Brynner's suspicions, but his hormones are aroused by Deborah Kerr.

Anatole Litvak who was Hungarian when he was handling the politics was on firm ground in The Journey. When he got into the romantic, sad to say he was hearkening back to his days in Hollywood when he directed a lot of romantic schmaltz. Try as I might I could not believe that Yul would be deterred in his duty, his character is a lot like Bounine the man he played in Anastasia, also directed by Litvak.

The characters of the passengers of the travelers is also interesting. Robert Morley was not playing for laughs as he does not do a John Bull type Englishman, but he's caring confidante for Kerr. I did like Anne Jackson, pregnant with two children traveling with her and her husband E.G. Marshall. Anne's character has a practical turn of mind and everyone should have been listening to her. Anouk Aimee is also good as a humorless and resolute Hungarian rebel.

And this review is dedicated to Veronica Laszlo wherever she is, the little girl who joined my third grade class way back in the day, when she fled Hungary. I hope she had a good life in America.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Maupassant and Blixen Go Hollywood
kaaber-217 September 2002
It is really not fair of me to say so as I only saw half of the movie. I stumbled into it on TCM, but I had growing suspicion that screenwriter Tabori has been glancing more than a little at Maupassant's old story "Boule de suif" and Isak Dinesen's (Karen Blixen) "The Heroine" (from "Winter's Tales").

Maupassant's story (which has been filmed) is the cynical tale of a French group of travelers that get caught at the border during the Franco-German war. The German officer takes a shine to a young girl in the group and proposes that if she go to bed with him the group will be let free, if not, they will all be shot. The Frenchmen implore the girl to sacrifice her honour for the greater good. She complies, but the next day, when group is let loose, the girl is met by cold contempt from her hypocritical compatriots.

Karen Blixen turns this story into a celebration of the triumph of courage: the German officer in her story is a young, handsome devil, and he does not mean to rape the girl, merely to see her in her birthday suit. Blixen's girl is a proud young beauty, Heloise, and she manages to convince her fellow travelers that they would rather die than ask her to take off so much as a glove. She wins the battle, but Blixen then hands us one of her greatest ironical twists: Heloise later turns out to be - and to have been at the time of the war - a celebrated nude dancer in Paris, and she is very proud of her beauty. All of Paris may see it at the price of some francs.

"The Journey" seems to lag behind both these great stories and settle for romantic tragedy instead - but it still manages to maintain part of the subtlety. It's definitely worth the while, as Deborah Kerr, Jason Robards and Yul Brynner always are.
9 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Excellent film, excellent direction by Litvak
blanche-213 April 2009
Anatole Litvak directed the 1959 film, "The Journey," starring Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr, Robert Morley, E.G. Marshall, Anne Jackson, and Jason Robards.

The film takes place during the 1956 Hungarian uprising and concerns a group of travelers having problems getting out of Budapest because of political problems in that part of the world. They are put on a bus to Vienna, but the Russians, led by Major Surov (Brynner) confiscate their passports and hold them for questioning. One of the passengers is Paul Fleming (Robards), posing as an American but in reality a Hungarian freedom fighter, whom the major believes is being smuggled out of Hungary. In fact, Lady Ashmore (Kerr) is hiding him. She becomes the focus of the Major's romantic attentions.

Very good film that conveys the tension and hassle of the Cold War, and all of the performances are wonderful. Brynner is particularly excellent as the passionate Major who isn't all bad, and Anne Jackson gives a realistic, powerful performance as a pregnant woman who doesn't want her child born in a Communist country.

Good script, good director, good cast - there should be more films like this. Highly recommended.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Reduces the Hungarian Revolution to another flirtation between Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner
JamesHitchcock13 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Even at the height of the Cold War, there were relatively few Hollywood films about the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe; "The Journey", set during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, is one of the few exceptions. A multinational group of foreign tourists find themselves trapped in Budapest by the outbreak of the revolution. There are no flights out of the country, but the Soviet authorities organise a bus to transport them across the Austrian border. They are detained, however, in a small border town by the local Soviet commander, Major Surov, and forced to stay in a local hotel.

Among the group are an aristocratic Englishwoman, Lady Diana Ashmore, and her friend and travelling companion Henry Fleming. Although Fleming also claims to be English, and is travelling on a British passport, it soon becomes clear that he is an impostor. His real name is Paul Kedes and he is a Hungarian citizen who was imprisoned and tortured by the Communist regime. He was released from jail by the revolutionaries and is attempting to flee the country with the help of Lady Diana, his former lover. Surov is well aware that Fleming is not what he seems, but he hesitates to arrest him.

A number of reviewers have commented on the links between this film and Guy de Maupassant's story "Boule de Suif", although the emphasis is rather different. In de Maupassant's story the main character was a prostitute and the moral dilemma confronting her was whether she should obtain the freedom of herself and her fellow passengers by sleeping with a German officer. (That story was set during the Franco-Prussian War). In "The Journey", the main moral dilemma explored is whether Diana should obtain the freedom of herself and her fellow passengers by betraying Kedes to the authorities (as some of them urge her when they discover the truth about his identity).

Contrary to one reviewer's description of him, Surov is not "mean and nasty". The German officer in "Boule de Suif" is certainly a nasty piece of work; like many Frenchmen post 1871, de Maupassant clearly believed that Germanophobia was an essential element of French patriotism. Surov, however, is a more complex character, basically a decent man despite the nature of the regime he serves. During the Cold War it was unusual for a Red Army officer to be portrayed sympathetically by Hollywood; the West occasionally made films which portrayed Russian characters in a good light, but these were normally set either in pre-revolutionary Russia ("War and Peace") or based on works by anti-Communist writers such as Pasternak ("Dr Zhivago") or Solzhenitsyn ("One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich").

The film reunited Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, who had previously starred together in "The King and I". Both are good here, especially Brynner who brings out the various sides of Surov's character. He can be domineering and frightening, but also cultured and capable of decency. He has always been a dedicated Communist and a loyal supporter of the Soviet system, seeing the Russian forces in Hungary not as occupiers but as liberators who have freed the country from Fascism. He reacts to the Hungarian Revolution with the same baffled incomprehension with which a dedicated and conscientious British colonial official might have reacted to, say, the Mau Mau insurgency in Kenya or the EOKA uprising in Cyprus. For the first time he begins to question his loyalties as he realises that for many Hungarians the events of 1945 represented not liberation but merely the exchange of one form of oppression for another.

Kerr's Diana is gracious and feminine as well as strong-minded and determined. The film also features a number of other well-known names- E.G. Marshall, Ann Jackson, Jason Robards, Anouk Aimee-, some of them in only minor roles. One contribution which stood out was from Robert Morley as the pompous, officious Englishman who appoints himself the leader of, and spokesman for, the group of travellers.

My main problem with the film is that it perhaps tried to follow de Maupassant too closely by having Surov fall in love with Diana, thus giving him another reason to detain the travellers for as long as possible. For me the Surov-Diana-Kedes love triangle was an unnecessary diversion from the film's more interesting political themes. I felt that the film might have been more interesting had it tried to explore the causes of the Hungarian Revolution in more detail. I have no problem with a film which portrays an individual Soviet officer in a good light, but I felt that the character of Surov needed to be placed in context. Had all Soviet officials in the country, and their counterparts in the Hungarian Communist Party, been as liberal and decent as he then the Revolution would never have broken out. Hungarian viewers may well feel annoyed that one of the most tragic- and heroic- episodes in their country's history, their fight against an oppressive Stalinist regime, is here reduced to little more than the background to another flirtation between the stars of "The King and I". 6/10
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
What went wrong between Russia and the West?
theowinthrop27 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Most people will consider that Yul Brynner's greatest performance was as the ruler of Siam in THE KING AND I. Certainly it gave him a wide variety of moods to test his abilities in, from comic, to tragic, from eager to learn to dominating to hateful. It also showed him to advantage as a "talk singer" and a dancer. Finally, as it was also his Tony Award winning performance from Broadway, the film allowed us to capture something of the great Broadway performance as well.

But he did other movies that showed his talents as well as THE KING AND I. His comic turn in ONCE MORE WITH FEELING was quite nice. So was his performance as General Bunin in ANASTASIA, or his Ramses in THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. Yet he came terribly close to being a 1950s successor to Eric Von Stroheim as "the man you love to hate." A certain vulnerability in his acting and roles endeared him to the movie public, even after his best years as a star were behind him - and he retreated more and more to repeating the King of Siam on television and the stage.

To me, his finest performance is in this 1959 drama with Deborah Kerr, Jason Robards Jr., Robert Morley, E. G. Marshall, Anne Jackson, and Ronnie Howard. The film is set in pretty modern times - the powder-keg that was Hungary in 1956, when briefly it looked like the Iron Curtain was about to collapse there under the reforms of Hungarian patriot Imre Nagy and his supporters. But the Hungarian Revolution collapsed due to bad timing. The Russians and their Polish and East German allies sent tanks in to crush the revolt (and arrested and executed Nagy and other reformers). The West stood by and let this happen: England and France had gotten caught in the Suez crisis, and the U.S. had berated them and Israel for attacking Egypt. Due to the actions of three close allies of the U.S., the West found it hard to condemn the overkill of the Soviet Union. It was an unfortunate situation, and the Hungarians have never forgotten how they were abandoned in it.

In the film Brynner is Major Surov, a Russian intelligence officer who is watching for some of the leaders of the Hungarian revolt, one of whom is Paul Kedes (Jason Robards). Kedes may be getting assistance from some westerners on a bus tour through Hungary, led by Robert Morley (including Marshall, Jackson, and Howard, and Kerr). The latter are being kept in a hotel while their bus is being repaired, and Brynner mingles with them, hoping for a lead to the whereabouts of Robards. But Brynner is human - he tries to be ingratiating with these people (all of whom see him as a monster), and in sequence, when he has drunk a little too much, he confronts them with the questions that has bothered historians since 1945: How is it (even if one notes that Russia had Stalin in charge) that relations between Russia and the West collapsed so quickly? The allies, on the whole, had worked well together from 1941 to 1945, but after Yalta and Potsdam all types of mutual suspicions just erupted. Did they have to? Surov is a good officer, but he is torn in half by loyalty to the Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and in Hungary that he supports, and his growing fondness towards Kerr, who is hiding Robards but is also willing to note the more human side of the Russian major. And as the film reaches it's tragic climax, we watch as Surov has to decide if he will follow his sense of duty, or take pity on Kerr, Robards, and the other westerners who want to leave. It becomes a true struggle for him - and one that he may win far too late. It was a great film about a tragedy of post war Europe, and possibly the most thoughtful role Yul Brynner ever portrayed.
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Could have been better
MissSimonetta27 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Though I like what this film is trying to do, I feel the execution was wanting. Outside of Yul Brynner's Major Surov, the other characters were too flat to be interesting. The film is overlong and could have been cut by fifteen minutes at the very least.

One of the strong points was the chemistry between Kerr and Brynner. You can certainly feel the sexual attraction there, and the kiss they share at the end of the film is hotter than any sex scene ever could be. But Kerr's character is not fleshed out enough for the romantic aspect to really work. Unlike Ilsa in Casablanca (1942), the character's struggle between two men is not compelling nor do you really feel sorry for her.

Overall, the only thing the film has going for it is Brynner's character. Everything else is not worth the time.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Why did relations between the U.S. and Soviet Union break down?
isoreno14 August 2012
This movie was a fine drama and had a pretty good love story. The acting was mostly first-rate. I don't understand the popularity of Jason Robards and this premier performance for him in the movies is no better than a bunch of other roles I've seen him in, he's okay, but not a standout. Robert Morely was very entertaining, somewhere between the amoral crook in Beat the Devil and the spoof on Mr. Goldfinger he did in The Road to Hong Kong. Ann Jackson gave a surprise performance; I think the audience dislikes her selfish character so much they don't realize how good a job she was doing and her concern was for her unborn child - - not enough of THAT in today's world. Of course, the best work in acting was done by Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner. They were attracted to one another even though Lady Ashford was dedicated to helping her former lover, who is just a pain in the neck, even though he was a hero and a freedom fighter. I guess Deborah Kerr signifies The West and Brynner The East in the days of the Cold War. Brynner's Soviet Major can't understand why the Hungarians hate the Russians meddling in their internal affairs, since the Soviets were the ones who freed them from the Fascist yoke only 11 years before, and he gives vent to his hurt feelings under the influence of lots of vodka. You almost feel sorry for the Major - he's so tied up in defending the USSR that he's begun to believe it's twisted propaganda. Another reviewer here asks why, after defeating Nazism together, relations between The West and The East broke down so quickly and we had the Cold War...there was just no natural affinity there, that's the most-likely reason. Americans saw oppression - taxation without representation - and just refused to live that way, and fought an 8- year war to rid themselves of their unwanted Mother Country. But, with Marxists, they see most everyone as victims. Victims of bosses, victims of landlords, etc., and tell all their little people that they can't overcome their perpetual victim-hood without a strong and oppressive state to "protect" them.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Journey, one of the greatest movies ever made
monik182 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"The Journey" is a very good film. Produced in the spring of 1958, in Vienna, and released in 1959, this movie was quite popular in his early years. Despite the political problems, which influenced the movie's success (because the story happens during the Hungarian Revolution, the Cold War), "The Journey" is a very good film, but not well-known. I think it should be released immediately on DVD, because most of the people who have seen it so far want to have it at home. One of the most important qualities of the film is the extraordinary chemistry between Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner, their intense relationship. All their scenes together are very important, but they also reveal the strong feelings, the great passion and love between the characters (Major Surov and Diana Ashmore). Another quality is the script, which is very well written. It was even published as a novel, by the screen player George Tabori. The film keeps its tension from the beginning to the end. At first, we didn't know if Diana and the other travelers could leave Hungary, because the Communist Major discovers that Diana's friend, Paul Kedes, is Hungarian and he isn't allowed to leave the country. The Major falls deeply in love with Diana and this is, in fact, the true reason why he doesn't want to let her go. But after he embraces her and gives her one of the most memorable kisses ever seen on screen, and she kisses him, too, he lets her go. And the end of the film is one of the most dramatic endings ever filmed-the Major and Diana say "Goodbye!", she arrives at the frontier with all the travelers, including Paul, while Surov is shot several times by some Hungarians, so he dies. Yul Brynner is very, very handsome and Deborah Kerr is very beautiful, charming, refined, just like an English Lady. Yul and Deborah are perfect together. They are one of the greatest couples of the Golden Hollywood. A true moviegoer should watch this film. "The Journey" has everything that a good film should have-a great, captivating story, interesting characters, a wonderful direction (Anatole Litvak is, in my opinion, at his best). Finally, I want to give a message to Warner Bros. Studios or those who restore and release classic films: Please, release "The Journey" on DVD as soon as possible.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Script Falls Short
atlasmb27 July 2014
The year is 1956--only three years before the release of this film--and the Russians have overtaken Hungary and imposed harsh laws. A small group of foreigners are waiting to leave the country, but their flight is cancelled and they must take a harrowing journey by bus to Austria. Along the way, they are delayed by Russian roadblocks and some Hungarian freedom fighters.

Diana Ashmore (Deborah Kerr) is accompanied by a mysterious man named Paul (played by Jason Robards in his first credited film role) who is feigning sickness. Paul has a habit of talking in his sleep in a language that alerts his fellow passengers. Also in the group is Hugh Deverill (Robert Morley), who does his best to play the ambassador in their contacts with the warring parties.

Eventually the busload is delayed in a small town where a Major Surov (Yul Brynner) is in charge. He is imperious, brash, challenging and inquisitive. While the group is under his charge, he questions them, toys with them, and ambiguously tries to be amicable. He falls for Lady Ashmore and perhaps lets his feelings get in the way of his job.

I have to admit I do not understand the rave reviews this film has received. It's not a bad film. In fact, I thought the first part was rather Hitchcockian. But later, the story becomes muddied, particularly in regard to Major Surov. The main fault of the film is an absence of the energy that is supposed to exist between Diana and the Major. As a result, later in the film the characters act in unbelievable ways.

I liked the score. It is fun to see Ronnie Howard in his first credited film role. Anne Jackson is fun to watch. The cast, as a whole, is competent. It's too bad they are let down by a script (or editing) that eviscerated the prime motive for much of the action.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The major and I
dbdumonteil11 July 2008
The screenplay borrows more than a fair share from Guy de Maupassant's "Boule de Suif" ,mainly towards the end ,when the tourists start to accuse the heroine:"He wants something from you".No matter if "Boule de Suif" takes place in France after Sedan Deborah Kerr portrays a distinguished English lady (instead of a prostitute ) and Yul Brynner a Russian major (instead of a Prussian officer).

This movie has often been referred to as anti-communist ,but now that we know what the commies have done ,it has become irrelevant .One should remember the director's personal history:a Russian Jew who emigrated to Germany ,then France where he made commendable works ("L'Equipage" "Coeur de Lilas" "Mayerling" ),then Hollywood where he took part in anti-Nazi propaganda ("confession of a Nazi spy") ;after the war he continued in that vein with the stunning "decision at dawn" where a German soldier came back to his country and discovered the damage done.Oddly,three of his last movies were "all thing eastern" : it began with "Anastasia" ,continued with this film and the trilogy ended with the implausible "night of the generals"

In "Journey" ,while updating Maupassant ,introducing a French character (a student played by Maurice Sarfati),using several other French actors (Anouk Aimée as a Hungarian rebel who wants weapons ,not chocolate and Gerard Oury as the inn-keeper:we can wonder why ..),Litvak shows his infatuation with France where he made 6 movies in the thirties and where the action of his (average) "act of love " takes place.

"Journey" suffers from an implausible happy end which comes at the most awkward moment.The tragedy has turned into a Harlequin romance. But there are several good moments (particularly the scenes between Kerr and Brynner who had teamed up two years before and those between the actress and Robards)which deserve your undivided attention.

Like this?try these:

The red Danube George Sidney 1949

Man on a tight rope Elia Kazan 1953

Mademoiselle Fifi Robert Wise 1944 (based on Maupassant's "Boule de Suif" and the eponymous short story)
4 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Pleasant surprise, thoughtful in dialogue and depiction
movieswithgreg10 October 2018
I originally spotted this on TCM, and when I started watching, thought it would be a fairly typical technicolor star-studed vehicle common in hollywood of the 50s and 60s.

It is that, surely, but it's also something better. It's got that poetic, "writers' dialogue" that comes from literature and plays, where the characters expound on life. Often that sort of thing gets clunky and pained, but here it works. Another minor delight -- the detailed direction of how people act, making sure to fill in all the details of how real people behave in common situations, like soldiers serving their booze to their major who intrudes in their barracks revelry, and many others. Or how often the numerous russian soldiers and occupiers speak without translation, because, with the audience in the shoes of the foreign tourists, we wouldn't understand Russian dialogue either.

Yes, it's undeniable -- yul brynner's character of the war-weary russian major with the heart of gold is treated like a necessity, and despite how strongly acted and overacted, it weakens the tone of menacing discomfort of cold war life for foreigners accused of violations against the state. Hence, all the suspected prisoners are treated with kid gloves, even the proven revolutionary played by newcomer jason robards is treated like a gentleman from another mythical era where foreign spies are not abused.

Visually, it's beautiful and bright with no shortage of gray weather common to the Hungary-ish locales of Vienna and nearby Austria.

This movie isn't a classic nor must-see. But it's better than most might suspect, and a fun yet thoughtful spy adventure romp on a cold gray afternoon on the couch. Have a shot of vodka while you watch it, since almost everyone in the movie do. And please try to remember that much of the smirk-worthy dialogue about political events was no laughing matter in 1959.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A Cold War drama that reunites Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr
jacobs-greenwood16 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Produced and directed by Anatole Litvak, and written by George Tabori, this unique Cold War drama is difficult to describe. There is a romance element to it which doesn't quite work, though the motivations for Yul Brynner's interest in Deborah Kerr's character are clear: he's been away from home too long. That plot-line notwithstanding, there is a very real feel given for the time and place, Russian occupied Hungary in 1956, that gives the film a certain truth which makes it hard to quit watching once one has become engaged in it. Unfortunately, the story drags on for at least 20 minutes too long. The film marks the only other pairing of these actors besides The King and I (1956).

A group of foreigners have found themselves unable to fly out of Budapest because of the political situation, hence they are trapped and given no choice besides the promised passage by the occupying Russian forces. They are put on a bus ostensibly headed for Vienna, but they are detained just short of their destination by a Major Surov (Brynner), who wants to make sure no natives are escaping amidst the group.

Robert Morley, playing a British television journalist, serves as the defacto spokesman for the tourists which include an old acquaintance of his, Lady Diana Ashmore (Kerr). Ashmore is in fact smuggling an Hungarian friend of hers, traveling as American Paul Fleming (Jason Robards Jr., in his film debut) but fooling no one for long, out of the country. She feels she owes a debt to him because, through a complicated series of events, he was held prisoner and tortured by the Russians in part due to his association with her years previously. An American family which includes E.G. Marshall, Anne Jackson, and their two sons (one of which is played by a four year old Ron Howard in his first credited role) is among the twelve others being detained by the Major.

The drama begins when, for reasons that are not explained right away, Major Surov decides not to send the foreigners' passports to headquarters. That would be the usual procedure which would have allowed these travelers the most expeditious way out of Hungary. But Surov, having been in charge of this border town for 2 years, is lonely for human conversation, perhaps even more. He is quickly frustrated when his "guests", led by a judicious Morley, are unwilling to engage him in adult discourse, and instead act like apolitical, humble prisoners.

The fact that Fleming can't present himself for meals - he'd been injured in his escape - and that it's Lady Ashmore that seems to care for him, also intrigues the Major. It later becomes clear that Surov was immediately taken with/smitten by Diana such that his subsequent decision-making was/is hindered by his (unrequited?) attraction to her. When the Major seems to have figured out that Fleming is not who he appears to be, Diana makes a fateful decision of her own which leads to an escape attempt and more.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed