All legendary obstacles lay between
Us, the long imaginary plain,
The monstrous ruck of mountains
And, swinging across the night,
Flooding the Sacramento, San Joaquin,
The hissing drift of winter rain.
All day I waited, shifting
Nervously from station to bar
As I saw another train sail
By, the San Francisco Chief or
Golden Gate, water dripping
From great flanged wheels.
At midnight you came, pale
Above the negro porter's lamp.
I was too blind with rain
And doubt to speak, but
Reached from the platform
Until our chilled hands met.
You had been travelling for days
With an old lady, who marked
A neat circle on the glass
With her glove, to watch us
Move into the wet darkness
Kissing, still unable to speak.
Trains figure in the whole history of cinema and in all film cultures...Trains represent progress, and the past, and the future, and death. They always signify change. They're protean as a metaphor, and yet they're also profoundly romantic objects in and of themselves.
The Girl: You're so simple, you're apt to get into trouble.
Sullivan: Why do you think I'm here?
The Girl: Gee, I like that about you. You're like those knights of old, who used to ride around
looking for trouble.
Oscar: Why Lily, you're crying.
Lily: Sure, sure, I turn on the faucet. It's that sort of scene. That's the devil of it.
Oscar: That's the pity of it, you mean. Those movies you were in--it's sacrilege throwing you away on things like that. When I left that movie house, I felt some magnificent ruby had been thrown into a platter of lard.
Chips: Miss Kathy!...Kathy!...You kissed me.
Kathy: I know, it was dreadful of me.
Chips: No, but do you...are we...oh this, is dreadful...awful...Look here, you'll have to marry me now, you know.
Kathy: Do you want to?
Chips: Do I want to? Do you?
Chips: Kathy! Oh you can't go now, my dear!
--Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Frank: Goodbye, thin girl.
Ariane: Goodbye, Mr. Flannagan.
Frank: You promised.
Ariane: You don't have to worry about me, Mr. Flannagan. There've been so many men before. There'll be so many after this. It's gonna be another one of those crazy years. While you're in Cannes, I'll be in Brussels with the banker. He wants to give me a Mercedes Benz, a blue one. It's my favorite color. And while you're in Athens, I'll be with the duke again in Scotland. But, I don't know whether I'll go yet, because another man's asked me to spend the summer with him in Deauville. He owns race horses. He's very rich. He's number twenty. I mean number twenty-one. You're number twenty. So, you see Mr. Flannagan, I'll be perfectly all right. I'll... I'll be all right... I'll be all right!
--Love in the Afternoon
Anna: Are you just going to sit there and do nothing?
Gus: Now please, don't make a scene.
Anna: Don't you realize what this means?
Gus: Yes, I do. But he's got a gun and I haven't and he's got a couple of reserves next door. Who do you take me for, Bulldog Drummond?
Anna: Can't you be serious even now? I told you this would happen, I told you that your scheme was absolutely childish, but you wouldn't listen to me. Why didn't you stay in England, instead of coming over here and deliberately throwing your life away, you fool!
--Night Train to Munich
But, my friend, happiness is not a joyful thing.
And I love the scene in Since You Went Away, where Jennifer Jones sees Robert Walker off at the railroad depot. It is night, the night that John Cromwell and Stanley Cortez photographed so well, and she wears a white frock and she runs to keep up with the train, but it is inexorable, pulling away.
It still seems to me the perfect farewell scene, and no film crew today could muster the same feeling or keep away the irony in order to just do a scene like that. They'd whisper to you that, in real life, Jones and Walker were breaking up at that time because David O. Selznick, the film's producer, had seduced Jennifer. None of which matters, except maybe for Jennifer Jones.
Which of us ever forgets one detail of the moment when we lost something, or let it go?....
I stood there and watched his train draw out of the station. I stared after it, until its tail light had vanished into the darkness. I imagined him getting out at Churley, giving up his ticket, walking back through the streets, letting himself into his house with his latchkey. His wife Madeleine, will probably be in the hall to meet him, or perhaps upstairs in her room, not feeling very well. Small, dark, and rather delicate. I wondered if he'd say: 'I met such a nice woman at the Kardomah. We had lunch and went to the pictures.' And then suddenly, I knew that he wouldn't. I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that he wouldn't say a word - and at that moment, the first awful feeling of danger swept over me.