The Story of Three Loves
On an oceanliner a ballet composer, a governess, and a trapeze performer remember their stories of love.
In “The Jealous Lover” Charles Coutray (James Mason) watches a rehearsal for his ballet, and Paula Woodward (Moira Shearer) is injured. A doctor tells her Aunt Lydia (Agnes Moorehead) and Paula that she cannot dance anymore or she will die. Paula watches a performance sadly. Afterwards alone she dances slowly. Charles interrupts her and asks her to do it at his studio. She declines, and he assumes she has a jealous lover. He gives her a ride home and remembers he saw her before. She changes her mind and goes to his house. He says he paints before composing. He asks her to do it again, and she says she heard music before. He shows her costumes, leaves her to dress, and puts on the music. He gets a call and says he cannot go to the party. Paula is in white and dances. He tells her to go on. She dances, and he sketches. He asks if she is all right, and she says she has never been better. He kisses her. He asks her to be with him, and she kisses him. She goes out to change and says they are always together. He goes in and finds she has left. At home Lydia asks what happened to her. Paula says she danced, but she collapses on the stairs. Lydia cries. On the oceanliner Charles remembers her.
In “Mademoiselle” a governess (Leslie Caron) reads in French while a boy (Ricky Nelson) is bored. She questions him on verbs. He gets angry and stalks out. Another boy tells him about the witch, Mrs. Hazel Pennicott (Ethel Barrymore), and leads him to her. He sees her cause a glass to shatter. He asks her to make him a man so that he won’t have to have a governess. She gives him a ribbon and says he can do it in his sleep by saying her name. He goes to bed, and the governess brings in his food. She feels he does not like her. He urges her to go out and gets in bed at 8, saying “Hazel Pennicott.” He gets out of bed and becomes the adult, Tom Clayton Campbell (Farley Granger). He breaks a piggy bank to get money and goes out to a bar, ordering a green drink. A flirt (Zsa Zsa Gabor) talks with him. He leaves and finds a book of French poetry that he reads. He gives it to the Mademoiselle (Leslie Caron), and they talk. He says he was barbaric to his governess. He says he has only two hours, and they kiss. They ride in a carriage. He does not want to waste his youth and kisses her. They have to part and agree to meet at 10 in the morning. Tommy gets on a train with his parents, and his governess kisses him goodbye. He asks her to come with them. Hazel bumps into her, gives her the ribbon, and tells her not to wait too long. She drops the ribbon on the oceanliner, and a man remembers her.
In “Equilibrium” Pierre Nerval (Kirk Douglas) pulls Nina Burkhardt (Pier Angeli) out of the river, and police take his name. He visits her in the hospital and asks why she did it. She is Italian and skis, which she says takes balance and timing. He suggests a different life for her and gives her his address. At home he says he will go back on the bar. His friends say he killed her, but he denies it. Rose warns him that his obsession will cause him to kill another woman. Nina has come, and Pierre takes her to a room. He says he was a trapeze artist but was unlucky. Now he is in a bicycle shop. He needs a partner and asks her. She says she won’t fall in love with him. He says you have to be free. He teaches her on a trapeze bar, and they practice over a net with Jacques. Pierre coaches her. He says it was an accident. She says she and her husband were in a concentration camp, and he was killed trying to escape. Her husband’s friend comes to see her. Marcel (Richard Anderson) tells Pierre that a man came to see her and that something is wrong. Pierre notices that Nina is cold and asks her what is wrong. He has a nightmare in a chair and tells her that he killed her. He says she loved him, and she shows him chess pieces. He tells her to forgive herself and holds her, saying he will do anything for her. Pierre sees Jacques in a big tent and practices with him in his slacks. Nina arrives to get ready for the audition. Jacques warns Pierre to watch out for the girl; he says she is clinging on and coming late. At the audition Rose watches them. They do well, and then Pierre and Nina do the death dive. The owner wants it done without the net, the way it will be performed. She dives from above, and he catches her. Pierre and Nina walk out together. In the final scene Pierre and Nina are on the oceanliner.
This movie is about love and romance, but even more than that it is about artistry and its appreciation, which gives life a deeper meaning, whether it be music and dance or poetry or death-defying performance.