I watched Noelly doing his thing in his film with Celia Johnston, In Which We Serve. It is, of course, hopelessly out of date ( not least because the children do what they are told), and the respect accorded to people is - a trifle - cloying.
What struck me though was Noel's wife, Celia, compared to her character in Brief Encounter.
There's no denying there was - and still is in some ways - a romanticism in the train. It is completely lacking in air travel and driving doesn't bear thinking about.
My thought was that the two films were actually about the same woman at the same time. If I was married to quite such a stuffed shirt as Coward portrays as the Captain of HMS Torrin, I would look for a more relaxed and fun guy too - if I was female that is.
Trevor Howard as the male lead in Brief Encounter is the perfect gentleman, but has that edge that women - I'm told - find dangerous and exciting. Coward has none of it. Nowadays of course Trev and Seels would have shagged in the ladies' loo, which would rather spoil the whole point of it, but I regret that we have lost many ideals and morality now regarded as old hat. Even that expression is too out of date to bear thinking about.
Some time ago there was an attempt to update the ten commandments and the seven deadly sins. The argument was that these were put in place to enable a tribe in the desert to survive, and have no place in modern society.
Although that's true to a certain extent, some hold good eternally, but perhaps we need to move some of them forward a bit. Romance has it's own morality and rules.
As a final thought, the two leading men only have one letter different between them - Coward and Howard.
5 Letters apart but light years in attitude.