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The Captive Heart (1946)

The Captive Heart poster.jpg

Basil Dearden’s contribution to British cinema was immense. In a very real sense he was its conscience – one thinks of his later films with producer Michael Relph, like Sapphire and Victim for their treatment of race relations and homosexuality. This earnest attempt was the first to try to explain POW camps to a British audience. It falls prey to the stereotyping that is across most British films of the time in terms of class and caricature. However Michael Redgrave does his best as a Czech-born inmate who speaks perfect English and escapes from a concentration camp to find himself detained as a POW with British officers, one of whose identities he adopts and then has to write letters home to the man’s wife to keep up the pretence. Then he goes to England … A worthy film that is very much of its time, with the limitations that that implies. The original story by Patrick Kirwan was adapted by Angus MacPhail and Guy Morgan. Part of the ongoing fascination is to see Redgrave opposite his wife Rachel Kempson, the mother of their three extraordinary children. And the subject of post-war life was further explored by Dearden in Frieda. Dearden died 45 years ago this week following a car crash near Heathrow Airport. The news that he expired in Hillingdon Hospital will come as no surprise to anyone who ever had the misfortune to enter that hellhole of a premises.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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