Falling in Love Again

Falling in Love Again is constructed out of It’s a Wonderful Life in two concurrent developments, a young romance in the Bronx during World War II, and a cross-country journey by the same couple many years later back to New York for a reunion. The flashbacks are not unlike Summer of ’42, with a gallery of great actors such as Kaye Ballard and Herbert Rudley to make a jolly picture of the times. The devastation of the East Bronx is filmed after dark as a nighttown.

Michael Wadleigh’s Wolfen found another view of the Bronx. Perhaps the best answer generally is provided by Alfred Hitchcock, who explained why Bodega Bay is nowadays all but unrecognizable (The Tides is a pastel emporium, the gas station across the street is a self-serve with a mini-mart, loomed over by condominiums), it was for The Birds.

Elliott Gould is a Felliniesque clown, limning the picaresque misadventures of his character or caricature to perfection. The house he grew up in is gone, all but the steps. A prostitute accosts him, he accepts, telling her he’s an architect, which is what he always wanted to be, instead of a successful and unloved clothier.

Susannah York as his wife wanders another neighborhood all but unchanged, then stops at the vision of themselves once upon a time kissing on a park bench. York is eating an ice cream cone, she looks off-camera as a separate cut is introduced of the young pair. It’s a great bit of acting, she stares and then calmly turns away. She had earlier seen Harry and the hooker walking, now her eye falls on a shop with a neon sign that might have been there before, Harry’s Dry Cleaning, with a sterling motto.

Vincent Canby simply dismissed the film from the pages of the New York Times, and elsewhere it is described as “anachronistic”. A few years before, The New Yorker had described Capra’s film as “icky,” and must have had some critical influence. It’s simply easier to adopt a position of superiority, however arbitrary and unwarranted, rather than go to the trouble of understanding what a film is all about.