February 21, 2017


Saraband for Dead Lovers – 1948 | 96 mins | Drama | Colour


Plot Synopsis

Saraband for Dead Lovers

Saraband for Dead Lovers was the first film that Ealing had produced in TechniColour, it was a 18th century period romance with a touch of swashbuckling based on historical fact, a little-known incident involving George Louis of Hanover, the gross prince who was later to become George I of England. Directed by Basil Dearden, and adapted by John Dighton and Alexander Mackendrick from a novel by Helen Simpson, it told the story of how the prince’s young wife, Sophie Dorothea, fell for a dashing young soldier of fortune, Count Koenigsmark, who was assassinated when the affair became known. The unfortunate woman spent the remaining thirty years of her life imprisoned in the castle of Ahlen.

Douglas Slocombe, who had been a cameraman at Ealing since early in the war when he had been invited there by Cavalcanti, and who since 1945 had been director of photography on Dead of Night, The Captive Heart, Hue and Cry, The Loves of Joanna Godden and It Always Rains on Sunday, was responsible for the rich look of the colour, and the film, an unlikely subject yet again for Ealing to tackle, was an attempt, at Mr Rank’s urging, to go after the ‘prestige’ market. It is a worthy rather than an outstanding film, with a good central performance by Joan Greenwood as Sophie. Francoise Rosay reappeared at Ealing to play the Electress Sophia, and Flora Robson, slightly miscast, played the fading mistress of Koenigsmark, who was portrayed by Stewart Granger in his customary manner – a combination of athleticism and flared nostrils. Jill Balcon, daughter of the head of the studio, who had made her debut in Nicholas Nickleby, was featured in a small role. While the film was received with reasonable respect it was not one that fitted happily into the Ealing style, and this experiment in eighteenth-century costume drama was not repeated, particularly as in financial terms it was the Studios costliest flop.

ExtractŠ George Perry: Forever Ealing.

Production Team

Basil Dearden: Director
William Kellner: Art Direction
Jim Morahan: Art Direction
Michael Relph: Art Direction
Stanley Irving: Assistant Director
Michael Relph: Associate Producer
Douglas Slocombe: Cinematography
Michael Truman: Editing
Alan Rawsthorne: Music
Ernest Irving: Musical Director
Michael Balcon: Producer
John Dighton: Script
Alexander Mackendrick: Script
Stephen Dalby: Sound


Stewart Granger: Konigsmark
Joan Greenwood: Sophie Dorothea
Flora Robson: Countess Platen
Francoise Rosay: Electress Sophia
Frederick Valk: Elector Ernest Augustus
Peter Bull Prince: George Louis
Anthony Quayle: Durer
Michael Gough: Prince Charles
Miles Malleson: Lord of Misrule
Guy Rolfe: Envoy
Christopher Lee: Duke Anthony von Wolfenbuttel

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