FILMS… Quest For Love (1971)



Finding A Time and Place for Love…


A single physicist finds himself in a parallel timeline where he finds himself an unhappily married author, as he falls in love with his “wife”. 


Quest For Love Trailer, Museu do VHS


If I had to choose my favourite film or TV role with Joan Collins, up until recently it would have been a tough call. I’ve relished watching her in her Queen of the soap operas role as Alexis in Dynasty (1981-89). And I’ve thrilled in her scream queen role in I Don’t Want to Be Born (1975). Yet, it’s only now I have seen her in the sci-fi romance, Quest for Love (1971). This film is reportedly the actress favourite of her film roles, is now undoubtedly mine too.

The story tells of Colin Trafford (Tom Bell), a physicist – complete with elbow patches on his jacket – who in his present day of 1971 – demonstrates a machine to his best friend Tom Lewis (Denholm Elliott) and some distinguished others including Sir Henry Larnstein (Laurence Naismith).

Tom is a BBC science correspondent who lost his right arm while covering the Vietnam War (as a war correspondent). The machine goes awry and Colin finds himself as his alternate self (still Tom Bell) in a parallel world, but with his memories of the world, that he came originally from. 

He now finds himself in a world that has many historical differences (but with only a few plot relevant differences that impact his now life),  John F Kennedy and Leslie Howard are both still alive, the Vietnam War and World War 2 never happened and man has still to reach the summit of Everest as it appears the world diverged into two separate timelines in 1938.

He is still Colin Trafford but he is now a successful writer and married. His wife Ottilie (Joan Collins) hates him, however, he falls in love with her at first sight.  His friend Tom in the parallel universe is a film critic for The Times (and has two arms). 

Colin then tries to convince Ottilie he is literally a different man, but she naturally doesn’t believe him as his alternate had stopped caring for her. The other Colin also openly abused her and flaunted his other women in front of her. Ottilie now believes he is playing “games” with her. She is sceptical of his motives and now wants a divorce.

Colin has to prove that although he looks like her husband that he’s not him. He is the opposite of her husband in many ways, as her husband is both an adulterer and an alcoholic. He also tries to get Tom on his side, but Tom also doesn’t believe him either. Tom is wary of him hurting Ottilie who has a diagnosed heart condition.

Colin meets and convinces Henry Larnstein about his alternate world. He then tries to convince Ottilie by publicly turning down the advances of all his alternate’s girlfriends. Ottilie is finally convinced after they become closer and she then notices that he doesn’t have a telltale scar. It is only then she loves Colin as himself, but there are tragic consequences… I’ll end here and be a meanie and not tell you what happens next.

The film’s plot was based on a John Wyndham short story, Random Quest. This author wrote The Midwich Cuckoos which was filmed as 1960s Village of the Damned. However, in a Quest for Love,  the ending and some plot events were changed. This romantic film was beautifully set up with the opening credits showing pictures of flowers in light and dark and then these shades in their reverse.

This haunting and romantic score was composed by Eric Rogers. Rogers had also composed many Carry on soundtracks including Carry on Henry (1971) and Carry on Camping (1969). These along with music used in Oliver (1968), Genevieve (1953) and Doctor in the House (1954).

I loved how this story was told from when Colin finds himself as an alternate self and life in the parallel world. The audience and Colin piece together his alternate’s past to explain his new present.

The scenes where he discovers this new parallel world are transfixing as this world appears the same despite those differences.  In another remake of this story from 2006, these differences were again updated to the then present time. This version is more similar to the original story.

As a viewer, I emphasised with Colin’s predicament as he falls immediately for Ottilie, but is unaware of the reasons why. His need to be understood, and loved for being him and not his alternate self is seen in their scenes together.

You can understand his anger at his alternate’s treatment of Ottilie as he tries to rectify the damage his alternate has made in their past. This part of the plotline reminded me of Matthew Rhys in The Scapegoat (2012), where he played a double role as a nice man, John Standing mistaken for a cad of a character, Johnny Spence. John Standing also fell in his doppelgangers “wife”.

The character actor, Denholm Elliott was fabulous in his supporting actor role, as he is in films from Alfie (1966) to A Room with a View (1983). However, I felt that he could have had more screen time as could actor Simon Ward, who appears in a blink and miss it cameo.

However, after learning more about Joan’s character’s life with his alternate you can understand how she slowly and cautiously trusts Colin. Sadly, when she then allows herself to love this man who looks like the man she grew to hate, this romance is cut short.

Joan shines in all her scenes with her credible performance. Her warm on-screen chemistry with Bell is at first heartfelt and then more touching. As Ottilie falls in love Joan gives a softer, warmer performance and this is reflected in her dialogue and on-screen presence. 

I read that this film had at first cast Britt Ekland in the Ottilie role, however, she was replaced with Joan Collins.  Joan Collins seems the natural choice for this character. And if this film review has made you want to venture to more parallel worlds and sci-fi roles with this actress, I urge you to find her earlier Star Trek (1967) appearance HERE.

Here she starred in an episode of this cult TV Series called The City on the Edge of Forever. In the show, it was the turn of Captain James T Kirk, another man from another alternate world, to fall for her immediately in another star crossed romance.

Weeper Rating:  😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦  /10

Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10

Hulk Rating:    mrgreen‎   mrgreen‎   mrgreen‎/10


The Joan Collins Blogathon 2021

This film review was added to my Joan Collins blogathon. Other films with this cast include  Joan Collins appears in I Don’t Want to Be Born, Dynasty, Star TrekBatmanThe Time of Their Lives, The Cartier Affair and Prime Time Soap Stars in 80s Adverts. Denholm Elliott stars in A Room with a View, AlfieRobin and Marian and Voyage of the DamnedMadame Sin. Simon Ward stars in Deadly Strangers and Dominique. 


16 thoughts on “FILMS… Quest For Love (1971)

  1. I’ve seen a clip from this film (when Tom Bell starts to figure out he’s not in his own world any more), but no more than that. I’ll keep an eye it for it – I wasn’t even aware that Joan Collins was in it. If someone says it was their best or favourite performance, it’s usually worth catching.

    Tom Bell was an absolutely fantastic British character actor – probably best known in the UK as the misogynistic sergeant in the first Prime Suspect series. I’d like to see how he tackles a lead role.

  2. The premise reminds me of a couple of Twilight Zone episodes in which the protagonist winds up in an alternate universe and struggles to get the people around him to believe he doesn’t belong there. Of course here it’s obviously expanded and the romance is accentuated. Very intriguing, and something to keep an eye out for, with the great cast and the John Wyndham pedigree.

  3. Quite the crazy premise. I had not heard of this film before now. What I’m dying to know is where the ‘bad’ Colin Trafford went.

  4. Have never seen this one! Dame Joan has quite an extensive filmography, far vaster than I realised! This one looks like it has a great cast! Will look for it!

  5. This sounds so interesting! Sounds a bit like Slaughterhouse-Five (1972), Somewhere in Time (1980) and The Lake House (2006), all great romance-fantasy hybrids. Thanks for the review!

  6. I thought Quest for Love was a terrific little movie. I’m so pleased that someone else liked it as well – I’ve never understood why it isn’t more highly thought of.

    You make a good point about the thematic similarities between Quest for Love and The City on the Edge of Forever.

Love your thoughts... but only if they are spoiler free!

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