Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter

4.0 13
Director: David Lean

Cast: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway


See All Formats & Editions

Based on Noël Coward's play "Still Life," Brief Encounter is a romantic, bittersweet drama about two married people who meet by chance in a London railway station and carry on an intense love affair. Sentimental yet down-to-earth and set in pre-World War II England, the film follows British housewife Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson), who is on her way home, but


Based on Noël Coward's play "Still Life," Brief Encounter is a romantic, bittersweet drama about two married people who meet by chance in a London railway station and carry on an intense love affair. Sentimental yet down-to-earth and set in pre-World War II England, the film follows British housewife Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson), who is on her way home, but catches a cinder in her eye. By chance, she meets Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard), who removes it for her. The two talk for a few minutes and strike immediate sparks, but they end up catching different trains. However, both return to the station once a week to meet and, as the film progresses, they grow closer, sharing stories, hopes, and fears about their lives, marriages, and children. One day, when Alec's train is late, both become frantic that they will miss each other. When they finally find each other, they realize that they are in love. But what should be a joyous realization is fraught with tragedy, since both care greatly for their families. Howard and Johnson give flawless performances as two practical, married people who find themselves in a situation in which they know they can never be happy.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble
There are romantic movies, and then there's Brief Encounter. Firmly entrenched in the pantheon of tear-jerkers, director David Lean's impeccable, achingly sad, three-hanky movie explores a life-defining affair of unrequited love. Against the emotion-drenched musical backdrop of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, the movie charts the passion unleashed during a chance meeting at a railway café between Laura, an unfulfilled housewife (the stunning Celia Johnson), and Alec (Trevor Howard), a doctor locked in a similarly passionless marriage. Because the film begins at the end and then relates the story in flashback via voice-over, even the most innocent and joyful moments of the relationship seem suffused with the knowledge of what is to come. Lean films this tale -- adapted by Noel Coward from his own short play, Still Life -- with remarkable simplicity and beauty: Trains pull into the station, all smothered in smoke and eerie lighting; close-ups capture Laura's gossipy neighbor's mouth yammering on, oblivious to the fact that Laura is dying inside. Like the film as a whole, the performances by Johnson and Howard are touching and restrained. They remain quietly decent and dignified in the face of despair; few celluloid lovers have ever come across with such subtlety and power.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
A model of narrative restraint and emotional power, David Lean's Brief Encounter (1945) won over post-war audiences with its fidelity to the ordinariness of its story and ambiance. Through subtle details of character, manner, expression (and a Rachmaninoff score), Lean reveals the profound impact of unexpected passion on the lives of his middle-class, middle-aged couple, despite the final restoration of routine. Praised for its feeling and its realism, including the lack of Hollywood-ized glamour of its stars Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, Brief Encounter became a rare foreign import hit. Johnson won the New York Film Critics' Circle award for Best Actress, while the film garnered Oscar nominations for Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. It was Lean's first great film, and its intimate romanticism reveals the skill at portraying human relationships that would distinguish his later, spectacular epics, such as Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), Ryan's Daughter (1970), and A Passage to India (1984).

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Sales rank:

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Celia Johnson Laura Jesson
Trevor Howard Dr. Alec Harvey
Stanley Holloway Albert Godby
Joyce Carey Myrtle Bagot
Cyril Raymond Fred Jesson
Valentine Dyall Stephan Lynn
Everley Gregg Dolly Messiter
Margaret Barton Beryl Waters
Marjorie Mars Mary Norton
Dennis Harkin Stanley
Wilfred Babbage Policeman
Wallace Bosco Doctor
Sydney Bromley Johnnie
Jack May Boatman
Avis Scott Waitress
Richard Thomas Bobbie
Nuna Davey Mrs. Rolandson
Edward Hodge Bill
Irene Handl Organist

Technical Credits
David Lean Director,Screenwriter
Noël Coward Producer,Screenwriter
Jack Harris Editor
Anthony Havelock-Allan Producer,Screenwriter
Robert Krasker Cinematographer
Coward Lean Screenwriter
Ronald Neame Producer,Screenwriter
George Pollock Asst. Director

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Essential Art House: Brief Encounter
1. Logos/Opening Credits [1:33]
2. Milford Junction Station [8:54]
3. Laura and Her Family [3:23]
4. Rachmanioff and Recriminations [3:50]
5. "I Happen to Be a Doctor" [1:46]
6. "You Could Never Be Dull" [5:57]
7. "Don't You Feel Guilty?" [1:54]
8. Falling in Love Over Alec's Ideals [6:42]
9. A Close Call [3:40]
10. Love on the Run [3:48]
11. Flames of Passion [6:28]
12. Laura's Fantasies [3:22]
13. A Lie Between Friends [3:51]
14. In Flagrante Delicto [5:04]
15. Saucy Upstart Soldiers [3:19]
16. A Friend's Apartment [3:54]
17. At the War Memorial [3:59]
18. "Could You Really Say Good-Bye?" [3:58]
19. "A Long Way Away..." [9:02]
20. Coming Back [1:30]
21. Color Bars [:00]


Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Brief Encounter 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
alexphilAU More than 1 year ago
Two married people meet and fall in love. Brief encounter is an early David Lean movie that is one of the most touching love stores I've seen. Set in pre war London, the rendition of this Coward play is simply fantastic. Lean is in control on all the scenes and the plot's rendition uses flashbacks to situate events of this unconsumated love story between two married people who met accidentally in a train station tea shop and fell in love. This love cannot be consumated however, because both of them have families of their own.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having become engrossed in the Original black and white movie on VHS (copied from the TV) I believe the DVD edition will have the same stunning empact as the original. A chance encounter while waiting the arrival of the train, a speck of grit in one's eye, quickly removed by a total stranger develops into a brief love affair. The dramatic effects of black and white film and Cecilia Johnson's thoughts, spoke during the film, entice the viewer to become one with the characters portrayed. The piano concerto, always present in the background, will always remind you of this classic film. Enjoy with a cup of Earl Gray!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most beautifully directed movies I have ever seen. The story line combined with marvelous cinematography and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, is totally breathtaking! This is a must have for anyone who truly has an appreciation of cinema and British classics.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Celia Howard and Trevor Johnston turn in brilliant performances in this charming and sad little movie about a small friendship, that turns into romance, that breaks into tragedy. It was made in wartime England, and David Lean needed official permission from the British Government to use an entire train station during these dangerous times. Trevor Johnson himself was a former soldier injured in the war, and moved in to acting to support himself after being released by the Army. The original playwright also worked closely with David Lean on the movie, and some critics have speculated that the secrecy of the doomed affair reflects the playwright's own secrecy of his own homosexuality (but it's all hush-hush, didn't hear it from me!). Anyway, this is worthwhile viewing if you like old movies or b&w movies, and if you've seen romantic tragedy movies before, you'll recognize many of the things in those movies started here.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brief Encounter is a beautiful love story about a doctor and a housewife meeting by accident and falling in love. Both of them are married to other people. The story is universal and could have happened anywhere. Even so, it is very British and very good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
David Lean directed a handful of films that went on to become classics but he never made a more perfect or satisfying movie than BRIEF ENCOUNTER. Long before the widescreen majesty of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO there was this intimate story of two lonely , middle-aged people who meet by chance at a train station in a London suburb and start an unconsummated love affair that leads to a stunning dramatic conclusion. Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard were unforgettable as the furtive lovers and David Lean's direction lifted the film to artistic heights that made BRIEF ENCOUNTER the CITIZEN KANE of romantic movies. This World War 2 -Era love story, superbly photographed and mounted in black and white, features all the Lean trademarks that distinguished the great director's later masterworks: stunning cinematography, inventive use of editing and sound and an unforgettable background score (in this case much of the music from Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto). BRIEF ENCOUNTER is one of the great films of the Twentieth Century.