Major Barbara is a three-act English play by George Bernard Shaw and premiered in 1905 and first published in 1907. The story concerns an idealistic young woman, Barbara Undershaft, engaged in helping the poor as a Major in the Salvation Army in London. For many years and her siblings have been estranged from their father, Andrew Undershaft, who now reappears as a rich and successful munitions maker. Undershaft, the father, gives money to the Salvation Army, which offends Major Barbara, who does not want to be connected to his "tainted" wealth. However, the father argues that poverty is a worse problem than munitions, claims that he is doing more to help society by giving his workers jobs and a steady income than Major Barbara is doing to help them by giving them bread and soup. London Act I: Lady Britomart's house in Wilton Crescent Act II: The Salvation Army shelter in West Ham Act III: Lady Britomart's house at the Undershaft munitions works in Perivale St Andrews An officer of The Salvation Army, Major Barbara Undershaft, becomes disillusioned when her Christian denomination accepts money from an armaments manufacturer and a whisky distiller.
She decides that bringing a message of salvation to people who have plenty will be more fulfilling and genuine than converting the starving in return for bread. Although Barbara regards the Salvation Army's acceptance of Undershaft's money as hypocrisy, Shaw did not intend that it should be thought so by the audience. Shaw wrote a preface for the play's publication, in which he derided the idea that charities should only take money from "morally pure" sources, he points out that donations can always be used for good, whatever their provenance, he quotes a Salvation Army officer, "they would take money from the devil himself and be only too glad to get it out of his hands and into God's". Lady Britomart Undershaft, the daughter of a British earl, her son Stephen discuss a source of income for her grown daughters Sarah, engaged to Charles Lomax, Barbara, engaged to Adolphus Cusins. Lady Britomart leads Stephen to accept her decision that they must ask her estranged husband, Andrew Undershaft, for financial help.
Mr. Undershaft is a successful and wealthy businessman who has made millions of pounds from his munitions factory, which manufactures the world-famous Undershaft guns, torpedoes and aerial battleships; when their children were still small, the Undershafts separated. During their reunion, Undershaft learns that Barbara is a major in The Salvation Army who works at their shelter in West Ham, east London. Barbara and Mr. Undershaft agree that he will visit Barbara's Army shelter, if she will visit his munitions factory; when he visits the shelter, Mr. Undershaft is impressed with Barbara's handling of the various people who seek social services from the Salvation Army: she treats them with patience and sincerity. Undershaft and Cusins discuss the question of Barbara's commitment to The Salvation Army, Undershaft decides he must overcome Barbara's moral horror of his occupation, he declares. He makes a sizeable donation. Barbara wants the Salvation Army to refuse the money because it comes from the armaments and alcohol industries, but her supervising officer eagerly accepts it.
Barbara sadly leaves the shelter in disillusionment. According to tradition, the heir to the Undershaft fortune must be an orphan who can be groomed to run the factory. Lady Britomart tries to convince Undershaft to bequeath the business to his son Stephen, but he will not, he says that the best way to keep the factory in the family is to find a foundling and marry him to Barbara. Barbara and the rest of her family accompany her father to his munitions factory, they are all impressed by its organisation. Cusins declares that he is a foundling, is thus eligible to inherit the business. Undershaft overcomes Cusins' moral scruples about the nature of the business. Cusins' acceptance makes Barbara more content to marry him, not less, because bringing a message of salvation to the factory workers, rather than to London slum-dwellers, will bring her more fulfilment; the play was first produced at the Court Theatre in London in 1905 by J. E. Vedrenne and Harley Granville-Barker. Barker played Cusins, alongside Louis Calvert, Clare Greet, Edmund Gwenn, Oswald Yorke and Annie Russell.
The Broadway premiere in the USA was at the Playhouse Theatre on December 9, 1915. A film adaptation of 1941 was produced by Gabriel Pascal, starred Wendy Hiller, Rex Harrison and Robert Morley. A Broadway production in 1956 with Charles Laughton and Burgess Meredith is noted in the discussion following Laughton's guest appearance on What's My Line on November 25, 1956. Meredith was on the panel. Caedmon Records released a 4-LP recording of the play in 1965 directed by Howard Sackler with Warren Mitchell as Bill Walker, Maggie Smith as Barbara, Alec McCowen as Cusins, Celia Johnson as Lady Britomart and Robert Morley as Undershaft. Lady Britomart Undershaft was modelled on Rosalind Howard, Countess of Carlisle, the mother-in-law of Gilbert Murray, who with his wife Lady Mary served as inspiration for Adolphus Cusins and Barbara Undershaft. Andrew Undershaft was loosely inspired by a number of figures, including the arms dealer Basil Zaharoff, German armaments family Krupp. Undershaft's unscrupulous sale of weapons to any and all bidders, as well as his government influence and more pertinently his company's method of succession (to a foundling rather than a son
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees, it employs over 20,950 staff in total. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time and fixed-contract staff are included; the BBC is established under a Royal Charter and operates under its Agreement with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture and Sport. Its work is funded principally by an annual television licence fee, charged to all British households and organisations using any type of equipment to receive or record live television broadcasts and iPlayer catch-up; the fee is set by the British Government, agreed by Parliament, used to fund the BBC's radio, TV, online services covering the nations and regions of the UK. Since 1 April 2014, it has funded the BBC World Service, which broadcasts in 28 languages and provides comprehensive TV, online services in Arabic and Persian.
Around a quarter of BBC revenues come from its commercial arm BBC Studios Ltd, which sells BBC programmes and services internationally and distributes the BBC's international 24-hour English-language news services BBC World News, from BBC.com, provided by BBC Global News Ltd. From its inception, through the Second World War, to the 21st century, the BBC has played a prominent role in British culture, it is known colloquially as "The Beeb", "Auntie", or a combination of both. Britain's first live public broadcast from the Marconi factory in Chelmsford took place in June 1920, it was sponsored by the Daily Mail's Lord Northcliffe and featured the famous Australian soprano Dame Nellie Melba. The Melba broadcast caught the people's imagination and marked a turning point in the British public's attitude to radio. However, this public enthusiasm was not shared in official circles where such broadcasts were held to interfere with important military and civil communications. By late 1920, pressure from these quarters and uneasiness among the staff of the licensing authority, the General Post Office, was sufficient to lead to a ban on further Chelmsford broadcasts.
But by 1922, the GPO had received nearly 100 broadcast licence requests and moved to rescind its ban in the wake of a petition by 63 wireless societies with over 3,000 members. Anxious to avoid the same chaotic expansion experienced in the United States, the GPO proposed that it would issue a single broadcasting licence to a company jointly owned by a consortium of leading wireless receiver manufactures, to be known as the British Broadcasting Company Ltd. John Reith, a Scottish Calvinist, was appointed its General Manager in December 1922 a few weeks after the company made its first official broadcast; the company was to be financed by a royalty on the sale of BBC wireless receiving sets from approved domestic manufacturers. To this day, the BBC aims to follow the Reithian directive to "inform and entertain"; the financial arrangements soon proved inadequate. Set sales were disappointing as amateurs made their own receivers and listeners bought rival unlicensed sets. By mid-1923, discussions between the GPO and the BBC had become deadlocked and the Postmaster-General commissioned a review of broadcasting by the Sykes Committee.
The Committee recommended a short term reorganisation of licence fees with improved enforcement in order to address the BBC's immediate financial distress, an increased share of the licence revenue split between it and the GPO. This was to be followed by a simple 10 shillings licence fee with no royalty once the wireless manufactures protection expired; the BBC's broadcasting monopoly was made explicit for the duration of its current broadcast licence, as was the prohibition on advertising. The BBC was banned from presenting news bulletins before 19.00 and was required to source all news from external wire services. Mid-1925 found the future of broadcasting under further consideration, this time by the Crawford committee. By now, the BBC, under Reith's leadership, had forged a consensus favouring a continuation of the unified broadcasting service, but more money was still required to finance rapid expansion. Wireless manufacturers were anxious to exit the loss making consortium with Reith keen that the BBC be seen as a public service rather than a commercial enterprise.
The recommendations of the Crawford Committee were published in March the following year and were still under consideration by the GPO when the 1926 general strike broke out in May. The strike temporarily interrupted newspaper production, with restrictions on news bulletins waived, the BBC became the primary source of news for the duration of the crisis; the crisis placed the BBC in a delicate position. On one hand Reith was acutely aware that the Government might exercise its right to commandeer the BBC at any time as a mouthpiece of the Government if the BBC were to step out of line, but on the other he was anxious to maintain public trust by appearing to be acting independently; the Government was divided on how to handle the BBC but ended up trusting Reith, whose opposition to the strike mirrored the PM's own. Thus the BBC was granted sufficient leeway to pursue the Government's objectives in a manner of its own choosing; the resulting coverage of both striker and government viewpoints impressed millions of listeners who were unaware that the PM had broadcast to the nation from Reith's home, using one of Reith's sound bites inserted at the last moment
The Luftwaffe was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force. During the interwar period, German pilots were trained secretly in violation of the treaty at Lipetsk Air Base. With the rise of the Nazi Party and the repudiation of the Versailles Treaty, the Luftwaffe was established on 26 February 1935, just over a fortnight before open defiance of the Versailles Treaty through German re-armament and conscription would be announced on March 16; the Condor Legion, a Luftwaffe detachment sent to aid Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, provided the force with a valuable testing ground for new tactics and aircraft. As a result of this combat experience, the Luftwaffe had become one of the most sophisticated, technologically advanced, battle-experienced air forces in the world when World War II broke out in 1939.
By the summer of 1939, the Luftwaffe had twenty-eight Geschwader. The Luftwaffe operated Fallschirmjäger paratrooper units; the Luftwaffe proved instrumental in the German victories across Poland and Western Europe in 1939 and 1940. During the Battle of Britain, despite inflicting severe damage to the RAF's infrastructure and, during the subsequent Blitz, devastating many British cities, the German air force failed to batter the beleaguered British into submission. From 1942, Allied bombing campaigns destroyed the Luftwaffe's fighter arm. From late 1942, the Luftwaffe used its surplus ground and other personnel to raise Luftwaffe Field Divisions. In addition to its service in the West, the Luftwaffe operated over the Soviet Union, North Africa and Southern Europe. Despite its belated use of advanced turbojet and rocket propelled aircraft for the destruction of Allied bombers, the Luftwaffe was overwhelmed by the Allies' superior numbers and improved tactics, a lack of trained pilots and aviation fuel.
In January 1945, during the closing stages of the Battle of the Bulge, the Luftwaffe made a last-ditch effort to win air superiority, met with failure. With dwindling supplies of petroleum and lubricants after this campaign, as part of the entire combined Wehrmacht military forces as a whole, the Luftwaffe ceased to be an effective fighting force. After the defeat of Germany, the Luftwaffe was disbanded in 1946. During World War II, German pilots claimed 70,000 aerial victories, while over 75,000 Luftwaffe aircraft were destroyed or damaged. Of these, nearly 40,000 were lost entirely; the Luftwaffe had only two commanders-in-chief throughout its history: Hermann Göring and Generalfeldmarschall Robert Ritter von Greim for the last two weeks of the war. The Luftwaffe was involved in Nazi war crimes. By the end of the war, a significant percentage of aircraft production originated in concentration camps, an industry employing tens of thousands of prisoners; the Luftwaffe's demand for labor was one of the factors that led to the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews in 1944.
The Luftwaffe High Command organized Nazi human experimentation, Luftwaffe ground troops committed massacres in Italy and Poland. The Imperial German Army Air Service was founded in 1910 with the name Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches, most shortened to Fliegertruppe, it was renamed Luftstreitkräfte on 8 October 1916. The air war on the Western Front received the most attention in the annals of the earliest accounts of military aviation, since it produced aces such as Manfred von Richthofen and Ernst Udet, Oswald Boelcke, Max Immelmann. After the defeat of Germany, the service was dissolved on 8 May 1920 under the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, which mandated the destruction of all German military aircraft. Since the Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany to have an air force, German pilots trained in secret. Civil aviation schools within Germany were used, yet only light trainers could be used in order to maintain the façade that the trainees were going to fly with civil airlines such as Deutsche Luft Hansa.
To train its pilots on the latest combat aircraft, Germany solicited the help of the Soviet Union, isolated in Europe. A secret training airfield was established at Lipetsk in 1924 and operated for nine years using Dutch and Soviet, but some German, training aircraft before being closed in 1933; this base was known as 4th squadron of the 40th wing of the Red Army. Hundreds of Luftwaffe pilots and technical personnel visited and were trained at Soviet air force schools in several locations in Central Russia. Roessing, Fosse, Heini, Makratzki and many other future Luftwaffe aces were trained in Russia in joint Russian-German schools that were set up under the patronage of Ernst August Köstring; the first steps towards the Luftwaffe's formation were undertaken just months after Adolf Hitler came to power. Hermann Göring, a World War I ace, became National Kommissar for aviation with former Luft Hansa director Erhard Milch as his deputy. In April 1933 the Reich Aviation Ministry was established; the RLM was in charge of production of aircraft.
Göring's control over all aspects of aviation became absolute. On 25 March 1933 the German Air Sports Association absorbed all private and national organizations, while retaining its'sports' title. On 15 May 1933, all military aviation organizations in th
Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, director and singer, known for his wit and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic and poise". Coward attended a dance academy in London as a child, making his professional stage début at the age of eleven; as a teenager he was introduced into the high society. Coward achieved enduring success as a playwright, publishing more than 50 plays from his teens onwards. Many of his works, such as Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit, have remained in the regular theatre repertoire, he composed hundreds of songs, in addition to well over a dozen musical theatre works, poetry, several volumes of short stories, the novel Pomp and Circumstance, a three-volume autobiography. Coward's stage and film acting and directing career spanned six decades, during which he starred in many of his own works. At the outbreak of the Second World War Coward volunteered for war work, running the British propaganda office in Paris.
He worked with the Secret Service, seeking to use his influence to persuade the American public and government to help Britain. Coward won an Academy Honorary Award in 1943 for his naval film drama, In Which We Serve, was knighted in 1969. In the 1950s he achieved fresh success as a cabaret performer, performing his own songs, such as "Mad Dogs and Englishmen", "London Pride" and "I Went to a Marvellous Party". Coward's plays and songs achieved new popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, his work and style continue to influence popular culture, he did not publicly acknowledge his homosexuality, but it was discussed candidly after his death by biographers including Graham Payn, his long-time partner, in Coward's diaries and letters, published posthumously. The former Albery Theatre in London was renamed the Noël Coward Theatre in his honour in 2006. Coward was born in 1899 in a south-western suburb of London, his parents were Arthur Sabin Coward, a piano salesman, Violet Agnes Coward, daughter of Henry Gordon Veitch, a captain and surveyor in the Royal Navy.
Violet's cousin, Rachel Veitch, was mother of Field-Marshal Douglas Haig. Noël Coward was the second of their three sons, the eldest of whom had died in 1898 at the age of six. Coward's father lacked ambition and industry, family finances were poor. Coward appeared in amateur concerts by the age of seven, he attended the Chapel Royal Choir School as a young child. He was a voracious reader. Encouraged by his ambitious mother, who sent him to a dance academy in London, Coward's first professional engagement was in January 1911 as Prince Mussel in the children's play The Goldfish. In Present Indicative, his first volume of memoirs, Coward wrote: One day... a little advertisement appeared in the Daily Mirror.... It stated that a talented boy of attractive appearance was required by a Miss Lila Field to appear in her production of an all-children fairy play: The Goldfish; this seemed to dispose of all argument. I was a talented boy, God knows, when washed and smarmed down a bit, passably attractive.
There appeared to be no earthly reason why Miss Lila Field shouldn't jump at me, we both believed that she would be a fool indeed to miss such a magnificent opportunity. The leading actor-manager Charles Hawtrey, whom the young Coward idolised and from whom he learned a great deal about the theatre, cast him in the children's play Where the Rainbow Ends. Coward played in the piece in 1912 at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End. In 1912 Coward appeared at the Savoy Theatre in An Autumn Idyll and at the London Coliseum in A Little Fowl Play, by Harold Owen, in which Hawtrey starred. Italia Conti engaged Coward to appear at the Liverpool Repertory Theatre in 1913, in the same year he was cast as the Lost Boy Slightly in Peter Pan, he reappeared in Peter Pan the following year, in 1915 he was again in Where the Rainbow Ends. He worked with other child actors including Hermione Gingold. In 1914, when Coward was fourteen, he became the protégé and the lover of Philip Streatfeild, a society painter.
Streatfeild introduced him to her high society friends. Streatfeild died from tuberculosis in 1915, but Mrs Astley Cooper continued to encourage her late friend's protégé, who remained a frequent guest at her estate, Hambleton Hall. Coward continued to perform during most of the First World War, appearing at the Prince of Wales's Theatre in 1916 in The Happy Family and on tour with Amy Brandon Thomas's company in Charley's Aunt. In 1917, he appeared in a comedy produced by Hawtrey. Coward recalled in his memoirs, "My part was reasonably large and I was quite good in it, owing to the kindness and care of Hawtrey's direction, he took endless trouble with me... and taught me during those two short weeks many technical points of comedy acting which I use to this day."In 1918, Coward was conscripted into the Artists Rifles but was assessed as unfit for active service because of a tubercular tendency, he was discharged on health grounds after nine months. That year he appeared in the D W Griffith film Heart
Academy Award for Best Actress
The Academy Award for Best Actress is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It is given in honor of an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role while working within the film industry; the award was traditionally presented by the previous year's Best Actor winner. The 1st Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929 with Janet Gaynor receiving the award for her roles in 7th Heaven, Street Angel, Sunrise. Nominees are determined by single transferable vote within the actors branch of AMPAS. In the first three years of the awards, actresses were nominated as the best in their categories. At that time, all of their work during the qualifying period was listed after the award. However, during the 3rd ceremony held in 1930, only one of those films was cited in each winner's final award though each of the acting winners had two films following their names on the ballots; the following year, this unwieldy and confusing system was replaced by the current system in which an actress is nominated for a specific performance in a single film.
Starting with the 9th ceremony held in 1937, the category was limited to five nominations per year. One actress has been nominated posthumously, Jeanne Eagels. Since its inception, the award has been given to 76 actresses. Katharine Hepburn has won the most awards with four Oscars. With 17 nominations, Meryl Streep is the most nominated in this category, resulting in two wins; as of the 2019 ceremony, Olivia Colman is the most recent winner in this category for her portrayal of Anne, Queen of Great Britain in The Favourite. In the following table, the years are listed as per Academy convention, correspond to the year of film release in Los Angeles County. For the first five ceremonies, the eligibility period spanned twelve months from August 1 to July 31. For the 6th ceremony held in 1934, the eligibility period lasted from August 1, 1932, to December 31, 1933. Since the 7th ceremony held in 1935, the period of eligibility became the full previous calendar year from January 1 to December 31. All Academy Award acting nominees Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role César Award for Best Actress Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Oscars.org The Academy Awards Database Oscar.com
Huddersfield is a large market and university town in West Yorkshire, England. It is the 11th largest town in the United Kingdom, with a population of 162,949 at the 2011 census, it lies 14 miles southwest of Leeds and 24 miles northeast of Manchester. Huddersfield is near the confluence of the River Holme. Within the historic county boundaries of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is the largest urban area in the metropolitan borough of Kirklees and the administrative centre of the borough; the town is known for its role in the Industrial Revolution, for being the birthplaces of rugby league, Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the film star James Mason. Huddersfield is home to rugby league team Huddersfield Giants, founded in 1895, who play in the Super League, Premier League football team Huddersfield Town A. F. C. Founded in 1908; the town is home to the University of Huddersfield and the sixth form colleges Greenhead College, Kirklees College and Huddersfield New College. Huddersfield is a town of Victorian architecture.
Huddersfield railway station is a Grade I listed building described by John Betjeman as "the most splendid station façade in England", second only to St Pancras, London. The station in St George's Square was renovated at a cost of £4 million and subsequently won the Europa Nostra award for European architecture. There has been a settlement in the area for over 4,000 years; the remains of a Roman fort were unearthed in the mid 18th century at Slack near Outlane, west of the town. Castle Hill, a major landmark, was the site of an Iron Age hill fort. Huddersfield was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Odresfeld. Indeed, the modern name Huddersfield is pronounced without a word-initial /h/ in the local dialect, suggesting that the standard English pronunciation has influenced the accepted spelling. Huddersfield has been a market town since Anglo-Saxon times; the market cross is on Market Place. The manor of Huddersfield was owned by the de Lacy family until 1322, at which it reverted to royal ownership.
In 1599, William Ramsden bought the manor, the Ramsden family continued to own the manor, which came to be known as the'Ramsden Estate', until 1920. During their ownership they supported the development of the town, building the Huddersfield Cloth Hall in 1766 and the Sir John Ramsden's Canal in 1780, supporting the arrival of the railway in the 1840s. Huddersfield was a centre of civil unrest during the Industrial Revolution. In a period where Europe was experiencing frequent wars, where trade had slumped and the crops had failed, many local weavers faced losing their livelihood due to the introduction of machinery in factories. Luddites began destroying mills and machinery in response. In his book Rebels Against the Future, Kirkpatrick Sale describes how an army platoon was stationed at Huddersfield to deal with Luddites. In response, Luddites began to focus attacks on nearby towns and villages, which were less well-protected; the government campaign that crushed the movement was provoked by a murder that took place in Huddersfield.
William Horsfall, a mill-owner and a passionate prosecutor of Luddites, was killed in 1812. Although the movement faded out, Parliament began to increase welfare provision for those out of work, introduce regulations to improve conditions in the mills. Two Prime Ministers spent part of their childhood in Huddersfield: Harold Wilson and Herbert Asquith. Wilson is commemorated by a statue in front of the railway station; the Huddersfield constituency has been represented by Labour MP Barry Sheerman since its creation in 1983 and is considered a safe seat for Labour. Kirklees Council was the first in the UK to have a Green Party councillor, Nicholas Harvey, instrumental in protesting against the intended closure of the Settle and Carlisle Railway line; the town has Liberal Democrats and UKIP presences. Huddersfield was incorporated as a municipal borough in the ancient West Riding of Yorkshire in 1868; the borough comprised the parishes of Almondbury, Huddersfield, Lindley-cum-Quarmby and Lockwood.
When the West Riding County Council was formed in 1889, Huddersfield became a county borough, exempt from county council control. In 1920, the Corporation bought the Ramsden Estate from the Ramsden family, that had owned much of the town since 1599, for the sum of £1.3 million. As a result, the town became known for a time as'the town that bought itself'. To this day, much of the freehold of the town belongs to the local authority. Huddersfield expanded in 1937, assimilating parts of the Golcar and South Crosland urban districts; the county borough was abolished in 1974 and its former area was combined with that of other districts to form the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees in West Yorkshire. Attempts by the council to gain support for city status were rejected by the population in an unofficial referendum held by the Huddersfield Daily Examiner; the council did not apply for that status in either 2002 competitions. Huddersfield had a strong liberal tradition up to the 1950s reflected in the number of liberal social clubs in the town.
The current Member of Parliament for the Huddersfield constituency is Barry Sheerman, a Labour Co-operative member. According to the United Kingdom Census 2001 the population of the Huddersfield urban sub-area of the West Yorkshire Urban Area was 146,234, the populatio
Brief Encounter is a 1945 British romantic drama film directed by David Lean about British suburban life on the eve of World War 2, centring on Laura, a married woman with children, whose conventional life becomes complicated because of a chance meeting at a railway station with a married stranger, Alec. They fall in love; the film stars Trevor Howard, Stanley Holloway and Joyce Carey. The screenplay is by Noël Coward, based on his 1936 one-act play Still Life; the soundtrack prominently features the Piano Concerto No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff, played by Eileen Joyce. Brief Encounter was met with wide praise from critics upon its release, is today considered to be among Lean's finest works, it has been credited as an important early work of realist cinema for its small scale and the lack of big-name stars in its cast. In 1999, the British Film Institute voted Brief Encounter the second greatest British film of all time. In 2017 a poll of 150 actors, writers and critics for Time Out magazine saw it ranked the twelfth best British film ever.
The voice-over throughout the film is in the form of an unspoken confession from Laura to her husband. In the latter months of 1938, Laura Jesson, a respectable middle-class British woman in an affectionate but rather dull marriage, tells her story while sitting at home with her husband, imagining that she is confessing her affair to him. Laura, like many women of her class at the time, goes to a nearby town every Thursday for shopping and to the cinema for a matinée. Returning from one such excursion to Milford, while waiting in the railway station's refreshment room, she is helped by another passenger, who solicitously removes a piece of grit from her eye; the man is Alec Harvey, an idealistic doctor who works one day a week as a consultant at the local hospital. Both are in their late thirties or early forties and with children; the two accidentally meet again outside Boots the Chemist and on a third meeting decide to go for a small lunch both having free time, go to an afternoon performance at the Palladium Cinema.
They are soon troubled to find their innocent and casual relationship developing into something deeper, approaching infidelity. For a while, they meet until they run into friends of Laura and the perceived need to lie arises; the second lie comes more easily. They go to a flat belonging to Stephen, a friend of Alec's and a fellow doctor, but are interrupted by Stephen's unexpected and judgmental return. Laura and ashamed, runs down the back stairs and into the streets, she walks for hours, sits on a bench and smokes, is confronted by a police officer, with the implication that she could be perceived as a "streetwalker". The recent turn of events informs the couple that both an affair and a future together are impossible. Realising the danger and not wishing to hurt their families, they agree to part. Alec has been offered a job in South Africa, where his brother lives, their final meeting occurs in the railway station refreshment room, now seen for a second time with the poignant perspective of their story.
As they await a heart-rending final parting, Dolly Messiter, a talkative acquaintance of Laura, invites herself to join them and begins chattering away, oblivious to the couple's inner misery. As they realise that they have been robbed of the chance for a final goodbye, Alec's train arrives. With Dolly still chattering, Alec departs with a last look at Laura but without the passionate farewell for which they both long. After shaking Messiter's hand, he leaves. Laura waits for a moment, anxiously hoping that Alec will walk back into the refreshment room, but he does not; as the train is heard pulling away, Laura is galvanised by emotion and, hearing an approaching express train dashes out to the platform. The lights of the train flash across her face, she returns home to her family. Laura's kind and patient husband, Fred shows not only that he has noticed her distance in the past few weeks but that he has even guessed the reason, he thanks her for coming back to him. She cries in his embrace; the film is based on Noël Coward's one-act play Still Life, one of ten short plays in the cycle Tonight at 8.30, designed for Gertrude Lawrence and Coward himself, to be performed in various combinations as triple bills.
All scenes in Still Life are set in the refreshment room of a railway station. As is common in films based on stage plays, the film depicts places only referred to in the play: Dr. Lynn's flat, Laura's home, a cinema, a restaurant and a branch of Boots the Chemist. In addition, a number of scenes have been added which are not in the play: a scene on a lake in a rowing boat where Dr Harvey gets his feet wet; some scenes are made more dramatic in the film. The scene in which the two lovers are about to commit adultery is toned down: in the play it is left for the audience to decide whether they consummate their relationship. In the film, Laura has only just arrived at Dr Lynn's flat when the owner returns and is led out by Dr Harvey via the kitchen service door; when Laura seems to want to throw herself in front of an express train, the film makes the intention clearer by means of voice-over narration. In the play, the characters at the Milford station — Mrs Baggot, Mr Godby and Stanley — are much aware of the growing relationsh