Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Waterloo Bridge (1940)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Waterloo Bridge (1940)

In director Mervyn Leroy's classic, sentimental, romantic tearjerker - Vivien Leigh's first film following her success in Gone With The Wind (1939):

  • at the start of WWII in the opening sequence - setting up a flashback, middle-aged British General Roy Cronin (Robert Taylor) stood mid-span on the Waterloo Bridge in London after emerging from a limousine; he was again readied to be deployed to the war front in France; as he stood on the bridge and pulled out of his coat a keepsake and symbol of a long-lost love of his life, he reminisced about the same setting years earlier in 1914 when he was a handsome young Army captain - ready to depart for the trenches in World War I; the object was a small ceramic, good-luck charm-doll (or billiken); he remembered during an air raid how he had retrieved the dropped purse and lucky charm of 19 year-old Myra Lester (Vivien Leigh), a naive and virginal ballet dancer, and helped her to an underground station shelter; as they parted after an all-clear was announced, she gave him her good-luck charm
Opening Sequence: Before General Roy Cronin's Flashback
  • in the film's most romantic sequence, after attending Myra's evening ballet performance (and missing an invitation to a Colonel's dinner), WWI Army Capt. Roy Cronin met with Myra for dinner and waltzed with her in candlelight in the Candlelight Club to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne" as groups of musicians extinguished their lights - and they experienced their first kiss, when they parted at about 4 am, he requested: "Please leave me first..." as he went off to war
  • however, his departure was delayed by two days and he and Myra met again the next late morning, when he impetuously insisted on marrying Myra: ("Now, listen, darling. None of your quibbling. None of your questioning. None of your doubts. This is positive, you see. This is affirmative, you see. This is final, you see. You're going to marry me, you see!"); he went to receive proper permissions from his military superiors, including Roy's wealthy uncle the Duke (C. Aubrey Smith) who reluctantly agreed to Roy's proposed marriage to Myra, although she was of a lower class
  • after they bought a ring and flowers, they went to St. Matthew's Church, where he affirmed: "I was never so sure of anything in my life. The moment you left me after the air raid, I knew that I must find you again, quickly. I found you and I'll never let you go"; however, they had to postpone the marriage until 11 am the next day - but then again shortly later that evening, Capt. Roy's orders were changed and he phoned Myra, informing her that he was leaving from Waterloo Station in 25 minutes; Myra arrived at the station and was only able to wave goodbye to Roy as his train departed
  • Myra had missed her evening performance in order to be with him and as a result was dismissed from her job by Madame Olga Kirowa (Maria Ouspenskaya), the tyrannical mistress of the troupe in an international ballet school; when her best friend/roommate Kitty (Virginia Field) stood up for Myra: ("I'm sick of you and your tyranny. You treat us like a lot of slaves and call it discipline"), she also lost her position; Myra and Kitty both found themselves unemployed and quickly growing penniless: ("We can't get jobs in a show, we can't get them anywhere else")
  • during Roy's deployment, Myra was scheduled one afternoon to be introduced to Roy's rich, socially-conscious, aristocratic mother Lady Margaret Cronin (Lucile Watson) in a tea room; while waiting, Myra noticed Roy's name on a casualty list of "FALLEN OFFICERS" in a newspaper - and she fainted; sickened by the thought and drinking brandy, she avoided telling Lady Margaret, who arrived a half hour late, the distressing news and thereby offended his mother with her strange, stand-offish and incoherent behavior; she left abruptly with a cold goodbye: ("Forgive me, my dear, but are you quite well?...Myra, I want you to remember that I tried to be your friend. I've come because Roy wanted me to come and because I wished to. Perhaps we'll try again someday")
Myra's Discovery of Roy on a Newspaper Casualty List of 'Fallen Officers'
  • afterwards, Myra was grief-stricken and fell ill believing that Roy had been killed in battle; Kitty had secretly turned to prostitution to pay for their food expenses and medical care for Myra, while excusing her loose behavior: ("What difference does it make as long as we live?") with men "who wanna kill a few hours because they know it may be their last"; soon after, the heartbroken and desperate Myra joined Kitty and also became a street-walker and was soon picking up male clients on the Waterloo Bridge
  • a year later at the London train station, Myra was shocked by the appearance of the returning Captain (who was not dead after all); he had only been injured with a head wound and became a German prison-camp POW; during the unexpected reunion, the guilt-ridden Myra - who accidentally met him while she was soliciting business from returning soldiers, pretended that she was there to greet a friend; she was overwhelmed by his warm welcome: ("It's over, darling. It's all over. And we're together for always"); he vowed: "I'm not going to let you out of my sight, not till we're married. You understand that?...I'm going to make it up to you. I'm going to make things easy for you. I never want to see you cry again - except with happiness" - they renewed their romance and lives
  • Roy proposed taking her to his family's estate in Scotland to again meet with Lady Margaret; Myra became very embarrassed and avoided telling Roy about her profession as a prostitute; when he became suspicious, she confessed that there was no one else: "Oh, Roy, of course there isn't anyone else. There couldn't be. I loved you. I've never loved anyone else. I never shall. That's the truth, Roy"
  • however, Myra soon realized that her deceptive ploy would not work, and would only bring shame to Roy's family; she became distraught and suicidal, feeling degraded by her indiscretions and deception, and fearing that her secrets would resurface and prevent them from marrying
  • Myra called Roy's consoling mother Lady Margaret "naive" about her life, and was able to confess her unworthy profession: ("I can't marry Roy...I must go away. I should never have come here. I knew it was impossible but I kept deceiving myself. I've got to go away. I must never see him again...That thought which is now in your mind which you are telling yourself can't be true is true"); she had Lady Margaret promise not to tell Roy, and then in the hallway, Roy returned her good-luck charm to her: ("I think you'd better have it from now on because now that we're both, as they say, one")
  • by the next morning, Myra had left a farewell note for Roy: ("You have been more to me than I will ever say in words. But there is no future for us. I am grateful to you for what you are and for what you have meant to me. I cannot write - Goodbye my dearest darling") and then returned to London
  • to prove that Myra had told the truth, her roommate/best friend Kitty first asked Roy if he could handle the truth ("Roy, can you take it no matter what you find out about her?"); she revealed the reality of Myra's nightlife to a disbelieving Roy by taking him through one seedy bar after another, but they were unable to find her; Kitty admitted: "She couldn't go through with it. She was too honest"
  • in the film's most tragic and downbeat scene on a foggy night, the impoverished and depressed Myra eluded Roy and deliberately walked into oncoming traffic on Waterloo Bridge, where she was struck and killed by a truck; the good-luck charm fell from her hand onto the pavement
  • the film returned to the beginning, as General Roy Cronin was on the bridge and clutching her good-luck charm before leaving for the front; in his memory years later, he tearfully recalled her earlier words in the film's final melodramatic moments: (Myra's voice-over) ("I loved you. I've never loved anyone else. I never shall. That's the truth, Roy. I never shall"); the playing of "Auld Lang Syne" rose on the soundtrack

In an Underground Shelter Together: Myra and Capt. Roy Cronin

Waltzing in Candlelight and a First Kiss

Marriage Proposal the Next Day

Waving Goodbye to Roy as His Train Departed

Myra Dismissed From the Ballet Company by Madame Kirowa, And Supported by Her Friend Kitty (Virginia Field)

Myra at the London Train Station - Shocked to See Roy Returning and Alive

Myra to Roy: "I've never loved anyone else. I never shall"

Myra to Lady Margaret: "I can't marry Roy!"

Myra's Farewell Note to Roy

Myra's Suicidal Decision to Jump In Front of a Truck


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