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Quest for Love

Quest For Love title card

Year - 1971
Studio - J. Arthur Rank
Stars - Joan Collins, Tom Bell, Denholm Elliott, Laurence Naismith
Director - Ralph Thomas
Writing Credits - Terence Feely (screenplay), John Wyndham (short story)
Music - Eric Rogers


Colin Trafford (Tom Bell) is a British nuclear physicist who is demonstrating a scientific experiment to a group of dignitaries, when the test goes wrong and he falls to the ground, holding his head in pain.

When he revives, he is in an exclusive London club among a group of strangers, all of whom seem to know him well. As he tries to determine what has happened to him, he notices a newspaper headline referring to the the activities of the current U.S. President, John F. Kennedy. It is 1971, and he knows that Kennedy was killed in 1963. He does know one of the people at the club, his long time friend, Tom Lewis (Denholm Elliott), who had lost an arm in the Vietnam War. But he is shocked to see that Tom now has both of his arms.

Tom offers to take the distressed Colin home, and they go to a posh penthouse apartment. Waiting for him is a beautiful woman, Ottilie (Joan Collins), who is, apparently, his "wife". Colin learns that he is believed, by all, to be a famous writer and playwright, and begins to understand that he has somehow entered into a parallel world where that life has taken him in different directions than the other.

Quest for Love poster

Despite his confusion, he is very taken with Ottilie, however, when they are alone, he discovers that their marriage is not a happy one and that she wishes to leave him because of multiple infidelities on his part. The situation is not improved when, that evening, they attend an opening night reception for his new play, and he makes a fool of himself with the many important guests, causing Ottilie to believe that he is drunk.

Colin sees a television documentary featuring a scientific colleague from his previous life, describing his theory on time "split", and he rushes to see the professor, Sir Henry Larnstein (Laurence Naismith). He succeeds in convincing the scientist in his story by sharing a complex mathematical equation with him. Larnstein is excited to see his theory vindicated, of the idea of time branching off in two different, parallel, directions.

Colin is now in love with Ottilie and determined to save their marriage. He tells her the full story and, when she accuses him of continuing his deception, he takes her to Larnstein to confirm the truth. She is still skeptical, but is increasingly charmed by the "new" Colin, and says that she will give him a chance to prove himself. However, Tom Lewis tells Colin that Ottilie has confided to him that she is very ill with a heart disease and does not have long to live. Colin goes to her doctors who confirm the diagnosis. He's aware that, in his other world, medical procedures have been developed to treat the illness.

Ottilie is now content in her revived relationship with her husband, and they are both very much in love with each other. But, one night, before dying in his arms, she pleads with him to find her in his other life.

Colin awakes in a hospital, back in his original world. He returns to his laboratory, hoping to repeat the failed experiment that took him to Ottilie. His attempt fails, but his friend, Tom (again with one arm) listens to his story and suggests that he look for her in this life.

Colin frantically attempts to trace her, following every possible lead, realizing that the she will have the same congenital heart defect in this world.

Ultimately, he learns that she is an airline hostess, and is returning from a flight to San Francisco. When he fails to find her at the airport terminal, he forces a manager to give him her home address. He arrives there, where she is asleep from chronic fatigue.

Ottilie has the needed surgery in time to save her life. When Colin visits her hospital bed, there is a faint look of recognition when she says, "Are you the man who saved my life?

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While I'm not particularly fond of remakes in general, I believe that this intriguing story might be an excellent candidate to be remade with current stars, modern production values and a more imaginative title.