In the Cool of the Day (1963): Robert Stevens’ Melodrama, Starring Peter Finch, Jane Fonda, Angela Lansbury

The overwrought romantic melodrama, In the Cool of the Day, directed by Robert Stevens, features Peter Finch before he became an international star, and Jane Fonda, early on in her career.

The poorly written scenario is based on the 1960 novel, which most reviewers described as “a mixture of high romance and exotic travelogue.”  But, alas, the movie is neither effective as “TV Disease of the Week Movie,” nor as an enticing invitation into Greece, where some of it was shot.

Grade: C (* out of *****)

In the Cool of the Day
In the Cool of the Day FilmPoster.jpeg

Fonda plays Christine Bonner, a beautiful young American with chronic health problems, who’s been separated from her overly protective husband Sam (Arthur Hill), but agrees to return to him.

Things change when Christine meets an English friend of Sam’s, Murray Logan (Finch), who shares her great interest in Greece. Logan also is unhappily married.  His harsh and frigid wife Sybil (Angela Lansbury) blames him for a car accident that had killed their son.

Later on, when Christine and Murray reconnect in England, their attraction grows threatening to become a fully blossomed romance.

The two couples plan to vacation together in Greece, but Sam must stay home because of a family illness. Quite expectedly, Murray and Christine fall in love as they visit Greek ruins and other tourist attractions.

Sybil, realizing the situation, informs Sam in New York of the romance, and tells Murray she is leaving him due to a fling with an Englishman (Davenport) she had met in Greece.

Hearing that Christine’s controlling mother is pursuing them, the couple, nonetheless continues traveling. Caught by her domineering mom, Christine falls ill from the stress and refuses to fight for her life.

Before dying, Christine confides in Murray that she did not want to impose on him the fact of her chronic illness. She thereupon asks him to do what they would have done together—continue to explore the gorgeous sites of Greece.

Both Fonda and Finch would cultivate more impressive careers in the next decade, manifest in Fonda’s winning the Best Actress Oscar for the 1971 Klute, and Finch’s own Oscar for the 1976 Network (his last film, for which he was awarded posthumously).

Fonda hated that picture: On the January 19, 2018 episode of “Watch What Happens Live,” she stated it was the worst film she’d ever made, wishing it had never been made.


Peter Finch as Murray Logan

Jane Fonda as Christine Bonner

Angela Lansbury as Sybil Logan

Arthur Hill as Sam Bonner

Constance Cummings as Mrs. Nina Gellert

Alexander Knox as Frederick Bonner

Nigel Davenport as Leonard Groves

John Le Mesurier as Dr. Arraman

Alec McCowen as Dickie Bayliss

Valerie Taylor as Lily Kendrick

Andreas Markos as Andreas


Directed by Robert Stevens
Written by Meade Roberts
Story by novel by Susan Ertz
Produced by John Houseman
Cinematography Peter Newbrook
Edited by Thomas Stanford
Music by Francis Chagrin
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: March 1963

Running time: 89 minutes