“They say that you can get over anything in time. I don't believe you can... but given enough time you can put it where it belongs.”
At heart I think we would all want a great romance in our lives. We want the movie romance not the real life romance… if you say you do not want this you are lying to yourself and need to stop because it is true you know you want a movie romance. We want those impossible romances where both of us are stubborn in our ways and too individual to get along at first then we break up and then we cannot live without each other and find our way back to each other. Those are all pretty much the great love stories we see on the screen or read in books. To me they are tortured love stories but who does not want to have that one true love we cannot live without. Then there are the other romantic stories where the boy or girl realizes too late they let the great love of their lives get away and they constantly think torturously about the other for several long years. The story of H.M. Pulham, Esq. is about the second scenario where the boy and girl let each other go and think about each other for years.
Harry Pulham (Robert Young) goes to lunch one day with some of his old college friends. His friends want to have a class reunion and want Harry to put together a book of all the classmates’ information. Back at his office as he starts to put together the information he receives a call from his former girlfriend Marvin Myles (Hedy Lamarr). Harry has not heard from Marvin in a long time. She is in Boston on business and would like to see him for some drinks. When Harry enters the restaurant he sees her sitting along looking sad and nervous. He thinks to himself how beautiful she still is after so many years and then how ordered his life is. His thoughts get the better of him and he walks out of the restaurant. On his way home Harry orders two dozen roses and writes a note to Marvin that he saw her across the room and could not bear it.
When he gets home Harry sees his wife Kay talking on the phone. This makes him think back to the time he met her when they were little kids. After a party that night Kay sees Harry sitting with a lost look on his face. She asks him if he is happy. As he takes the dog out he says to himself that he has been the obedient one always following others. He wonders if he is really happy with his life.
Harry thinks back to when he was at Harvard. One weekend he brought a friend home. His mother had invited Kay over for lunch. Harry was not happy to see her because he thinks Kay is dull. His friend likes her though. Then he thinks back to when he fought in World War I. After the war he could not face going home for a while. One of his friends got him a job at an advertising firm he worked for. At the advertising firm he meets Marvin. Sometime later Harry and Marvin are teamed together to sell soap door to door. He brings her home that night. A few days later Harry leaves to go to his home in Boston. Marvin asks him if he will be back. He says yes and she tells him to not let his family take him away. His father talks to him about getting married especially to a girl like Kay. His father does not understand why he likes his job in New York City so much. His sister tells him their mother is going to try to make him stay. Harry cannot get back to New York fast enough. When he sees Marvin he tells her he loves her. Harry brings Marvin to a Harvard game. Almost as soon as they get back to New York his sister calls to tell him their father may be dying and he needs to come home. Harry says goodbye to Marvin and she tells him not to say that.
Harry does not go back to New York. Marvin writes him a letter. She knows she will not see him again but hopes he will come back. He has his friend Bill bring Marvin up to see him one weekend. They have fun going out in the snow. Marvin points out to Bill that Harry has come home for good and will not return to New York. Harry proves Marvin wrong he does return to New York. He tells Marvin he wants to marry her and they can live in his family home while they look for something. She tells him no she will not marry him, they only belong together in New York City. He tells her he has to live where he belongs. Marvin lets him know she will always be waiting for him.
He sees Kay when he returns home. She points out that neither of them are very happy. She always thought that Bill would have taken her away (she had fallen in love with him when Bill came to visit with Marvin). Even on their honeymoon Kay had pointed out that they do not love each other they just married each other. At breakfast the next morning Harry asks Kay if she wants to go away somewhere that day. She replies she is too busy to just go away on a whim.
Harry calls Marvin at her hotel. They see each other in her room. She tells him she was married she and he husband divorced. Harry kiss Marvin. They still love each other but their love is not the same as it had been.
Harry comes home and sees Kay walking down the stairs. She canceled her appointments to go away with him.
The story could have become a bore after a while. I think it could have gone downhill if Marvin had given in to Harry, married him, and moved in with his family in Boston. From the beginning Marvin talked about how she wanted to be rich and successful. She knew she could not do that if she gave in and moved away. Marvin was such an independent woman and set in her goals she could not move away from the city and give up her dreams. Harry to me was weak he was weak to his family honor and what his family and old friends wanted for him. Of harry was not truly happy with Kay they were forced to marry each other when they were both in love with other people. It was sad not to see Marvin and Harry not get together at the end but at the same time it was great that Marvin stood her ground and was her own woman. It was Harry who missed out and was the one who had the tortured memories and thoughts about her.
I could not get over how beautiful Hedy Lamarr was and how amazing her acting was. Larmarr and Robert Young had fantastic chemistry they were perfect together. It did not feel like they were acting it was as if they were real people.
H.M. Pulham, Esq. was a great film. Not for one minutes was I bored watching it. This was a different kind of love story. I liked the fact that the woman was not the one who had the missed opportunity it was the man and he was forced to live with that missed opportunity. Marvin is a great character I can imagine women in 1941 looking up to her and even women today looking up to her (I certainly do). H.M. Pulham, Esq. is not your typical love story and it is a classic film that should be more well known.