A film that seems, quite naturally, to have much more meaning for British audiences than others, The Courtney Affair is nevertheless an enjoyable "through the years" picture. Covering three generations and 45 years of family life, it's essentially a soap opera about the British class system and of two people's efforts to overcome this system and find lasting happiness. There's plenty of melodrama, and less of the emotional restraint that one expects of a British film; indeed, at times, things get to be a little much and one wishes that director Herbert Wilcox had asked his talented cast for a little less rather than a little more. The screenplay also tries too hard to push all the emotional buttons, and the blatant manipulation at times becomes grating. That said, there also are several scenes that pack a considerable wallop. Anna Neagle and Michael Wilding carry the picture, and while that means that they inevitably must fall prey to some of the dramatic excesses demanded of them, for the most part they turn in compelling performances. Gladys Young and Coral Browne also come off well, and despite its lapses, Courtney overall comes off as an entertaining family "epic."