Film / Random Harvest

Random Harvest is a 1942 film based on a 1941 novel by James Hilton. It stars Ronald Colman and Greer Garson.

"John Smith", an amnesiac soldier in the First World War, wanders away from the asylum he is confined to when the gatekeepers abandon their posts to join a party celebrating the end of the war. He meets Paula, a singer, and they leave the town and go to a village in Devon where they marry and have a son. Then he goes to Liverpool for a job interview, is hit by a car, and comes to with his original memories restored, but his memories of his life with Paula forgotten...

Random Harvest provides examples of:

  • Accidental Adultery: The main character is an amnesiac who, oblivious to the fact that he is already married, becomes engaged to a young admirer. His wife tracks him down and attempts to trigger his memories of her; his new fiancée breaks off the engagement before this trope can take full effect.
  • Adult Fear: Imagine your husband going missing without a trace one day, and you can't find out what happened to him and don't know if he's dead for at least two years until you happen to see his picture in a paper.
  • All Love Is Unrequited / Love Dodecahedron: Oh boy... Kitty loves Charles, who thinks he loves her but is still in love with his wife, who he's forgotten all about, Paula is still in love with John/Charles, a psychiatrist who used to know John is in love with Paula, Charles marries Paula without knowing she's already his wife, and she finds it hard to love him because he's not John anymore...
  • Amnesiac Hero: John Smith/Charles Rainier. Unlike most examples, he can't remember his own name, and when he regains his original memories, he can't remember his other name.
  • Amnesiac Lover: John/Charles can't remember who Paula is, even when she comes to work for him. She doesn't tell him who she really is, though.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Kitty, in the book.
  • Easy Amnesia: John Smith loses his memory in the trenches, then regains it in a car accident.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted with John and Paula's son, who dies after John regains his memories.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Kitty, when she realises John/Charles is still in love with someone else (even though he doesn't know he is).
  • May–December Romance: Between Kitty and Charles.
  • The Reveal: Paula has been working as John/Charles' secretary under the pseudonym of Margaret for several years. Constantly seeing her has made no difference to his memory, unfortunately.
  • Saying Too Much: A heroic version. While back in the town he met Paula in, Charles makes a comment to his friend about a shop he can get cigarettes in. The friend promptly points out that since he's never been there before, he shouldn't know that. Cue Charles slowly regaining his memories.
  • She's Got Legs: Paula does her Music Hall number in the shortest skirt you'll ever find in a 1940s film.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the book, Kitty dies. In the film, she goes travelling.