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The Years Between is a 1946 British film directed by Compton Bennett, starring Michael Redgrave and Valerie Hobson.

Early during World War II, Diana Wentworth (Hobson) receives news that her husband, Col. Michael Wentworth (Redgrave), has been killed in action. Diana struggles to get over her husband's death and falls into deep depression until, at the suggestion of some friends, she takes up her husband's vacant seat in Parliament and finds that she likes her new job. She quickly makes a name for herself in politics, looks forward to the upcoming general election and is about to be remarried when news arrives that her husband is still alive and has been a prisoner of war. Michael returns home in a state of post-war trauma, expecting to find his wife and home unchanged and eager to resume his parliamentary career. He soon finds out that the years between have changed a lot of the things he loved irrevocably. Diana, on her part, can't find anything more than pity in her heart for her returned husband and is increasingly irritated by his demands that things be the same as they were before the War. Things come to a head when Diana finds out the truth about Michael's missing years at the War...

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Tropes

  • Arc Words: The postman keeps saying "Nothing will ever be the same again" after the War.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Nanny is never referred to by any other name.
  • The Film of the Book: Based on a 1944 play of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier.
  • Hidden Depths: Diana turns out to be a much stronger person than she herself could have imagined, once she has a real job to keep her constructively occupied.
  • Jerkass: Michael comes across as one for most of the film. True, he's been through a lot during the War, but he really seems to resent that his wife has moved on, got a job, and taken charge of the household in his absence. It looks like he'd much rather that she were a grieving mess. What's worse, he had faked his death, knowing that his wife would be heartbroken.
  • Love Triangle: Michael is still in love with Diana. Diana is unsure of her feelings about Michael (she thinks she is mainly just sorry for him) but has grown to love the couple's long-time friend, Richard, who has been a source of support in the years that Michael's been missing. Richard is deeply in love with Diana but is conflicted because of his loyalty to Michael.
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  • Non-Idle Rich: Michael owns a huge country estate which makes him independently wealthy but nonetheless takes his political career very seriously. The same goes for Diana once she takes up Michael's vacant seat. At the end, both are allowed to retain their careers.
  • Old Retainer: Nanny, to the point she can knock some common sense into Diana and later, Michael, when they are in dire need of a good talking to.
  • Parents as People: Diana and Michael have an adolescent son, Robin, but he isn't too high on their priority list. At first Diana neglects him because she is too depressed, then because of her career, and subsequently Michael and Diana are too busy being at each other's throats to take much note of him. It's Nanny who reminds them that Robin matters too. Surprisingly, Robin seems to be growing up just fine, and has a cordial, if distant, relationship with both his parents.
  • The Reveal: Michael faked his death as part of his MI-6 mission and spied against the Germans before being captured as a prisoner of war. What Diana can't forgive so easily is that he knew when saying goodbye to her that she would be receiving news of his death in a few weeks' time, but never told her.
  • Revised Ending: In the original play by Daphne Du Maurier, Michael and Diana are reconciled, but don't start living together just yet because Michael accepts a job offer that involves rebuilding Europe politically, while Diana retains Michael's seat in Parliament.
  • Title Drop: At one point, Michael tells Diana that "the years between" are really to blame for the breakdown of their marriage.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Nanny delivers one of these addresses to both Diana and Michael, chiding Diana for not wanting her husband back despite being one of the fortunate few whose husbands did return from the War, while taking Michael to task for expecting his wife to remain unchanged despite having changed so much himself.
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