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Sapphire (1959)

Sapphire movie poster.jpg

Basil Dearden was one of British cinema’s more interesting figures, with a penchant for exploring contemporary social problems which he endeavoured to express dramatically with producer Michael Relph. Here he grapples with the race issues proliferating in England following the rise of immigration from the colonies, particularly the West Indies. Sapphire, a young woman, is murdered and her boyfriend (Paul Massie) is the prime suspect. That she has been passing for white is made evident when her doctor brother (Earl Cameron) appears. The investigating policeman (Nigel Patrick – who else?!) is drawn into an underworld of clubs and music providing an otherwise fairly standard procedural with a febrile backdrop. The murder devolves upon the attitudes towards inter-racial sex within the young man’s working class family and it’s still a nerve-jangling work on some levels. Written by that admirable woman, Janet Green (reunited with Dearden on Victim two years later) with additional dialogue by Lukas Heller. Distinguished by great cinematography from Harry Waxman and a very contemporary jazzy soundtrack courtesy of Philip Green (the other one).

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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