Random Harvest (film)

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Random Harvest is a 1942 film based on the 1941 James Hilton novel of the same name, directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Claudine West, George Froeschel and Arthur Wimperis adapted the novel for the screen, and received an Academy Award nomination for their work. The film departed from the novel in several significant ways, as it proved nearly impossible to translate to film otherwise. Ronald Colman and Greer Garson starred as a shellshocked, amnesiac World War I soldier and his love interest.

It was an instant critical and commercial success. Its seven Academy Award nominations included nods for Ronald Colman, supporting actress Susan Peters, director Mervyn LeRoy, and the Best Picture. Greer Garson, whose performance was well-received, was ineligible for the Academy Award for Best Actress, as she had already been nominated that year for her role in Mrs. Miniver.



The film opens during the closing days of World War I. "John Smith" (Ronald Colman) is a British officer who was gassed and became shellshocked in the trenches. He is confined to an asylum because he has lost his memory and has trouble speaking. When the war ends, jubilation reigns in the nearby town of Melbridge and the gatekeepers abandon their posts to join the celebration. With no one to stop him, Smith simply wanders off.

In town, he is befriended by Paula (Greer Garson), a kindly showgirl, who takes him under her wing. After she discovers he has left the hospital, but seems harmless, she arranges for him to join her traveling theatrical group. After an incident that threatens to bring unwanted attention, Paula takes Smith away to a secluded country village, where they marry and are blissfully happy.

"Smithy", as Paula calls him, discovers a literary talent and tries writing to earn a living. He leaves Paula and their newborn baby for an overnight trip to Liverpool, for a job interview with a newspaper. On his way to the interview, he is struck by a taxi. When he awakens, his past memory is restored, but his life with Paula is now forgotten. He is Charles Rainier, son of a wealthy businessman. None of his meager possessions, including a key, provide any clue how he got there from the battleground of France.

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