The Captive Heart
The Captive Heart – 1946 | 104 mins | Drama | B&W
Michael Balcon‘s wife, Aileen, who was South-African born, had devoted the war years to working for the British Red Cross and had been closely involved in helping repatriated prisoners-of-war, he felt that there was good subject matter in a story about a group of Britons following their experiences from capture through to release. Shot in the British zone of Germany, The Captive Heart was to have been called Lover’s Meeting, but the novelist Lady Eleanor Smith instituted a passing-off action, as one of her works bore the same title. Ordinarily there would have been no chance of it succeeding as there was no similarity between the stories, but, as the novelist was on her deathbed, Balcon gallantly relented and ordered his title to be changed. The original story by Patrick Kirwan was scripted by Angus MacPhail and Guy Morgan, the latter an ex-journalist who had himself been confined in the prisoner-of-war camp, Marlag Milag Nord, which the British Army of Occupation permitted to be used for filming.
Basil Dearden directed the film and the actors included Michael Redgrave, Basil Radford, Ralph Michael, Gordon Jackson, Derek Bond and Guy Middleton as officers, with Jack Warner, Jimmy Hanley and Mervyn Johns as other ranks, and Rachel Kempson, Jane Barrett, Gladys Henson and Rachel Thomas as the women waiting for their men to come home. Redgrave played an impostor, a Czech who had escaped from a concentration camp and adopted the identity of a dead Briton. Taken prisoner, he is forced to keep up the masquerade, even to the extent of corresponding with the dead man’s widow who believes that her husband has had a change of heart over their marriage, which was in a shaky state. (The handwriting problem is glossed over with the suggestion that he writes with his left owing to an injury.) Naturally, when repatriation time comes round, the lady gets a shock.
The film follows the Ealing method of throwing a disparate group of people together in a situation of adversity, and showing how they cope. When the prisoners are subjected to Nazi loudspeaker indoctrination they respond with a lusty rendering of “Roll out the barrel”. When, after the commando raid on Sark, the Germans defy the Geneva convention and order the prisoners to be manacled, the spry young cockney (Jimmy Hanley) has everyone’s locks picked in a trice. Jack Warner, in his first film for Ealing, and who had hitherto been regarded as a popular comedian is given a characterisation, that of a genial corporal, that is in many ways the prototype of those which follow; and even his wife, with whom he has a touching reunion, is played by Gladys Henson, who will later be Mrs Dixon in The Blue Lamp when he plays his most famous role of PC Dixon for the first time.
ExtractŠ George Perry: Forever Ealing.
Basil Dearden: Director
Michael Relph: Art Direction
Jim Morahan: Assistant Art Director
Michael Relph: Associate Producer
Jack Parker: Camera Operator
Douglas Slocombe: Cinematography
Ernest Irving: Conductor
Mark Luker: Costume Design
Charles Hasse: Editing
Alan Rawsthorne: Music
Michael Balcon: Producer
Hal Mason: Production Supervisor
Angus MacPhail: Script
Guy Morgan: Script
Lionel Banes: Second Unit Cinematography
Len Page: Sound Recordist
Eric Williams: Sound Supervisor
Cliff John Richardson: Special Effects