“The Jealous Lover” from A Story of Three Loves (1953)

04 Aug

James Mason and Moira Shearer

A Story of Three Loves (1953) is an anthology film containing three unrelated short, romantic stories, all of a bittersweet nature. One story follows the romance between Leslie Caron (who sadly does not dance) and Farley Granger, except that Granger is really a boy turned into a man by fairy godmother Ethel Barrymore. Another is the romance between a suicidal Nazi prison camp survivor and a reckless trapeze artist played by Kirk Douglas.

But it was the first story – “The Jealous Lover” – that I was especially interested in viewing. It stars James Mason, Moira Shearer, and Agnes Moorehead and features a lovely dance by Shearer, set to Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.”

Paula is an aspiring dancer who is told that she must quit dancing at the cusp of a breakthrough in her career. She has a bad heart and is told that if she dances, she will die. James Mason is Charles Coudray, an impresario searching for a way to improve his most recent ballet, something that seems to elude him. When he sees Paula, he believes he might have found what he’s been looking for.

The plot is, it must be admitted, a bit of a pastiche of other ballet works. Paula (Shearer) has a weak heart that could kill her if she dances, rather like the title character of the ballet “Giselle.” But she feels that life without ballet is not really life at all, rather like her character in Red Shoes (fortunately, James Mason is no Lermontov). And the idea of a dancer/artist as inspiration for an impresario or dancer/artist in need of an impresario? That’s been done many times, including in the film starring James Mason: The Seventh Veil.

There are so few opportunities to see Moira Shearer dance, however, that I am grateful for every single appearance on film she made (rather like Wendy Hiller, an actress who generally shunned film and preferred stage). And James Mason, it must be said, is probably the best actor at acting opposite magnificent artists. He does so in A Star is Born with Judy Garland, and here, with Moira Shearer. He is able to be a part of the scene, reacting to the artist, and yet defer to the artist. Not many people are able to do that (click here for a scene between Mason and Shearer, when he catches her dancing on stage).

The other thing that interested me about “The Jealous Lover” is that the choreography is done by Frederrick Ashton, who is credited with creating a distinctive English, lyrical style of ballet (Moira Shearer danced in his Cinderella before making Red Shoes). He choreographed many ballets that now form English ballet’s core repertoire and I couldn’t help but wonder if his work on the film in 1953 provided the inspiration for his ballet to the entire “Rhapsody to a Theme of Paganini” in 1980, which was created for Mikhail Baryshnikov.

If you like ballet, I would definitely recommend you give it a viewing. And if you want more Moira Shearer and Frederrick Ashton, then you can’t go wrong with Powell and Pressburger’s Tales of Hoffman, which Ashton actually appears in as a character.

This has been part of the “En Pointe: A Ballet Blogathon.” Be sure to check out all the other posts about ballet, which can be found here.

Below is a clip of Moira Shearer dancing to part of the Rhapsody. It begins at 3:27 minutes into the video.

Below is an introduction to “Rhapsody,” choreographed by Ashton in 1980, and being performed by The Royal Ballet.


Posted by on August 4, 2017 in Movies


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25 responses to ““The Jealous Lover” from A Story of Three Loves (1953)

  1. Katrina Morrison

    August 4, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    A lovely post… and a must see film… three stories for the price of one. The first one you described reminded me of Tom Hanks in Big. 😊 Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      August 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Oh, that’s a good comparison! It is a bit like that: teenage boy wanting to be grow-up. 🙂 They are all short stories, but it is fun to see all the actors and some stories do work best when they are not stretched out to be full length.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Katrina Morrison

        August 5, 2017 at 12:41 pm

        Hi Christina
        Sorry this was not sooner. I am a bit frustrated. Somehow I deleted the post In was working on and had to rewrite this one. It’s a bummer cause I had the other one exactly how I wanted it. 😞
        Here is the link
        En Pointe: Blogathon of Ballet: Rimky-Koravok’s Scheheazade


  2. Patricia Nolan-Hall (@CaftanWoman)

    August 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    The world is full of so many lovely things, such as Moira Shearer dancing.

    I’m quite fond of anthology films and have yet to watch this one. I won’t let it slip by me again.

    PS: I used to have a little music box that played that rhapsody. Wore the poor little thing out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      August 4, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      At least it was a much-loved music box!! The music is gorgeous, isn’t it?

      I haven’t seen many anthology films, but it us such a great way to tell those stories that should not be full length movies. I’ll have to look for more. Hope you get a chance to see this one! Moira Shearer is, as you say, one of the truly lovely things in this world!


  3. Andrea Lundgren

    August 4, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Ooh, I need to see that one now. The clip between he and she is splendid!

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      August 4, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      Yes, they do have good chemistry together! I actually wished their story had been even longer. I think you would enjoy it.

      We should watch Red Shoes sometime, too. I am really curious what you would think of it. 🙂


  4. Michaela

    August 4, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Great post! A Story of Three Loves is quite fascinating. I enjoy all of the vignettes, but I agree that Shearer and Mason’s is the best. It’s so heartbreaking, yet still joyful and sweet. I cherish every filmed moment of Moira Shearer — she was just so perfect in everything she did!

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      August 4, 2017 at 5:23 pm

      Yes, I so agree! She was marvelous.

      I liked that, “heartbreaking, yet still joyful and sweet.” You’re right; there is something life affirming about it, in a way.


  5. maddylovesherclassicfilms

    August 5, 2017 at 2:50 am

    Never even heard of this one before. Am eager to see it now. Moira was such a talented dancer.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Constance Rose Metzinger

    August 5, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Oh wow, this movie sounds good! I love anthology films. But what a shame that Leslie Caron doesn’t dance in it. Thanks for posting the clips. The Moira Shearer dance is beautiful and “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” is one of my favorite classical pieces ( albeit darned tricky to play on the piano ). I had not realized that an entire ballet was set to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      August 5, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Yes, if Leslie Caron had danced, too, it would have been so marvelous. I wonder if that shows she was already viewed as an actress by the studios and not just as a dancer? But it’s still a good film to see!

      Do you play Rhapsody on the piano? That’s impressive! I play the piano a little, but no where near enough to be able to play it, though I really like Rachmaninoff.


  7. rebeccadeniston

    August 5, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Wow, Moira Shearer was such a beautiful dancer! And it’s always nice to hear lighter Rachmaninoff–his third concerto is legendary among piano players.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Michael

    August 6, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    I don’t know if it’s just James Mason as an actor or the roles he choose but there’s something magical about his presence in his film. I had the same feeling with his roles in A Star Is Born and Caught.

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      August 6, 2017 at 1:26 pm

      That’s a good question. I know what you mean. It seems like he played the protagonist less often than the antagonist, but he’s always so perfect when he is the lead. Perhaps it seems all the more magical for the rarity of his being the hero?


  9. Phyl

    August 9, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    I’ve never heard of this movie! I really want to see the Caron/Barrymore part!!

    Thanks for hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • christinawehner

      August 9, 2017 at 1:11 pm

      It is a bit obscure – perhaps because it’s an anthology film? – but has such a great cast! Hope you get to see it!


  10. Lê ^_^ (@startspreading)

    August 9, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I’ve heard about this movie, but haven’t seen it yet. I’m more than interested in seeing Moira Shearer in all opportunities I have – she is so precious and her dancing is magnificent. Very good review.
    Thanks for co-hosting this fun blogathon!


    • christinawehner

      August 9, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      It was a pleasure! Thanks! Yes, I know so agree about Moira Shearer. It feels like every film appearance is a treasure. 🙂


  11. Realweegiemidget Reviews

    December 22, 2020 at 11:27 pm

    Always wanted to see this film and now even more thanks to you lovely review.



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