Ford's Pilot Goes Down
Whilst made in 1979 "Hanover Street" is writer/director Peter Hyams doing a 1940s/50s style WWII romantic drama. Now there is nothing wrong with that as having watched a fair few of those old romantic war movies, the sort of which where a pilot falls for their dead squadron leaders widowed wife, I know they can work. Unfortunately for me "Hanover Street" despite having a good storyline doesn't gel and that is because it all feels forced and too much and so at times between the ridiculous overly dramatic or romantic dialogue and some huge musical swells it borders on the corny.
Whilst stationed in England during the Second World War, American pilot David Halloran (Harrison Ford - Force 10 from Navarone) meets the pretty Margaret Sellinger (Lesley-Anne Down - The Hunchback of Notre Dame) whilst waiting for a bus on a busy London street. After going for a drink together and surviving an air raid they find it impossible to hide their mutual attraction for each other even when David realises she is wearing a wedding ring. During a mission to fly a British agent into France Halloran's plane is hit and the two must work together to escape except David realises that the agent named Peter (Christopher Plummer - Aces High) is in fact Margaret's husband.
The one thing which I really like about "Hanover Street" is the basic idea which combines almost a classic WWII romantic drama set up with a catch-22 situation. It is a combination I don't ever remember coming across before and whilst it gives limited opportunities to how things can play out when David and Peter end up in enemy territory it has some potential. But even though I like it the idea ends up weighed down by everything else from the action to the soundtrack.
Now I could just work through the various things which don't work for me but in truth it is a combination of things which present themselves early on during the movies opening meet cute scene between David and Margaret. The dialogue is ridiculously over romantic, the music has swells which feel like they belong in "Gone with the Wind", the action is over the top when the bombing starts and both Harrison Ford and Lesley-Anne Down look like they are trying not to laugh. All of this combined makes it simply over the top and all these things crop up again and again as David and Margaret start their affair. In fact it is not just when they are together because there are scenes throughout the movie which are corny for being so OTT and cliche.
As for the acting, well as I said there are times when it does look like the actors are trying to stifle their laughs and it is not just the main stars as those in supporting roles such as Richard Masur and Sherrie Hewson also look like they are finding it all a bit ridiculous. But whilst the characters are for the most over the top Ford and Down look good together and Christopher Plummer delivers a typically reliable performance. Plus for those who know their stars that is a young Patsy Kensit who plays Margaret and Peter's angelic daughter.
What this all boils down to is that "Hanover Street" could have been a good movie if it wasn't for the fact that so much of it ends up over the top, with forced romantic dialogue, OTT musical score and many other things combining to make it often feel corny.