Passage Home

Last updated

Passage Home
Diane Cilento with Peter Finch.jpg
Diane Cilento with Peter Finch during the making of the film
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Written by William Fairchild
Story bynovel by Richard Armstrong
Produced by Julian Wintle
Starring Anthony Steel
Peter Finch
Diane Cilento
Cinematography Geoffrey Unsworth
Edited by Sidney Hayers
Music by Clifton Parker
Distributed by General Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • April 1955 (1955-04)(UK)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Passage Home is a 1955 British drama film directed by Roy Ward Baker.



Captain "Lucky" Ryland (Peter Finch) is about to retire. He has a flashback of several years to a voyage on a merchant ship which he was captaining from South America. He is forced to give passage to a British governess, Ruth Elton (Diane Cilento), who is returning to England.

Both Ryland and his second mate, Vosper (Anthony Steel), fall for Ruth. Ryland proposes to Ruth and when she turns down his offer he tries to rape her in his cabin but she is rescued by Vosper. The ship survives a very severe storm in which Vosper saves Ruth's life outside on deck after which Ruth and Vosper realize that they are in love with each other.

There is a subplot about the dissatisfaction of the ship's crew with being fed rotten potatoes, which Ryland has bought cheaply simply to save money. Ryland says a good cook would still be able to use them productively. The potatoes are dumped overboard and Ryland is determined to find out who is responsible by offering the crew £5 for any information as to who did it. Vosper accuses Shorty (Bryan Forbes), who is acting oddly, and they fight. Ike (Geoffrey Keen) intervenes and fights Vosper. Shorty then confesses to Ike but Ike takes the blame. Probably due to the fight, Ike, who is already known to be ill, takes to his bed and dies. He is buried at sea in a makeshift coffin.

At the allotted time of the funeral Ryland is drunk, drowning his sorrow in whisky due to being rejected by Ruth (whom he had seriously assaulted, ripping her dress). The red ensign is flown at half mast. Ryland struggles to find the right pages in the Book of Common Prayer and loses his place. When the body is slid overboard they recite the Lord's Prayer.

That night Ryland is even more drunk. The steward brings his dinner and he rudely demands that he "do his job" and tidy his room. A violent storm is throwing things around. The ship is in trouble but Ryland musters himself and manages to give logical instructions to get her through the storm. Down below the engineer struggles to keep up the power. In the hold things start sliding and Shorty is crushed by a crate holding a bull while pushing Burns to safety. They head for "The Lizard". Ruth goes on deck and is in danger of being swept away when part of the safety railing is destroyed. Vosper saves her and carries her to her cabin where they kiss.

Coming out of flashback, Ruth and Vosper are now married and are attending Ryland's retirement function. Ryland shakes her hand and calls her "Mrs Vosper". The film ends with Ruth looking at Ryland in tears because she still has feelings for Ryland after all of the years.



The film was based on a novel by Richard Armstrong that was published in 1953. [1]

It was Roy Ward Baker's first film after working several years in Hollywood. Baker's biographer would later write "although he [Baker] was disappointed in the eventual result Passage Home was the quintessential 1940s and 1950s Baker film - classical in style and melodramatic/generic in its basic structure... it conveys a quiet, pervasive sense of despair in its storyline, involving melancholy and sexual repression." [2]

The script was by William Fairchild who had written Morning Departure , alo directed by Baker. The director called it "a bomb in the bomb locker story... all pretty formula stuff. It's not very good... The whole film should have been set in 1885 on a sailing ship. It was sort of a Victorian film. It just didn't work as a modern day film." [3]

Baker felt the "only interesting thing about" the film was it used a new form of back projection. [3]

Diane Cilento's casting was announced in September 1954. [4] She was cast after producer Julian Wintle had seen 60 people. Cilento had only recently appeared on stage in The Big Knife and signed a five year contract with Alex Korda. [5]

Her co star was Peter Finch, a fellow Australian. [6]

The film was shot at Pinewood Studios in November 1954. [7] [8] It was the first film Finch made under a new five year contract with the Rank Organisation. [8]

It was also the first film Michael Craig made under contract to Rank. He said filming went for over three months and was impressed by the set, saying "the art department, if no one else, had one use proud." [9]


Filmink argued the film would have been more successful if a war film. [10]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peter Finch</span> English-Australian actor (1916–1977)

Frederick George Peter Ingle Finch was an English-born Australian actor. He is best remembered for his role as crazed television anchorman Howard Beale in the 1976 film Network, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Actor, his fifth Best Actor award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and a Best Actor award from the Golden Globes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Diane Cilento</span> Australian actress (1932–2011)

Diane Cilento was an Australian actress. She is best known for her film roles in Tom Jones (1963), which earned her an Academy Award nomination, Hombre (1967) and The Wicker Man (1973). She also received a Tony Award nomination for her performance as Helen of Troy in the play Tiger at the Gates.

<i>Captain Horatio Hornblower</i> 1951 film by Raoul Walsh

Captain Horatio Hornblower is a 1951 British naval swashbuckling war film in Technicolor from Warner Bros., produced by Gerry Mitchell, directed by Raoul Walsh, that stars Gregory Peck, Virginia Mayo, Robert Beatty and Terence Morgan.

Raphael Cilento Australian medical practitioner and public health administrator

Sir Raphael West Cilento, often known as "Ray", was a notable Australian medical practitioner and public health administrator.

<i>Yield to the Night</i> 1956 film

Yield to the Night is a 1956 British crime drama film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Diana Dors. The film is based on the 1954 novel of the same name by Joan Henry. The storyline bears a superficial and coincidental resemblance to the Ruth Ellis case, which had occurred the previous year but subsequent to the release of Henry's novel. The film received much positive critical attention, particularly for the unexpectedly skilled acting of Dors, who had previously been cast solely as a British version of the typical "blonde bombshell". The movie was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anthony Steel (actor)</span> British actor and singer (1920–2001)

Anthony Maitland Steel was a British actor and singer who appeared in British war films of the 1950s such as The Wooden Horse (1950) and Where No Vultures Fly, and his marriage to Anita Ekberg.

<i>Lady Godiva Rides Again</i> 1951 British film

Lady Godiva Rides Again is a 1951 British comedy film starring Pauline Stroud, George Cole and Bernadette O'Farrell, with British stars in supporting roles or making cameo appearances. It concerns a small-town English girl who wins a local beauty contest by appearing as Lady Godiva, then decides to pursue a higher profile in a national beauty pageant and as an actress.

Guy Doleman New Zealand actor

Guy Doleman was a New Zealand born actor, active in Australia, Britain and the United States.

<i>The Weak and the Wicked</i> 1954 film by J. Lee Thompson

The Weak and the Wicked is a 1954 British drama film directed by J. Lee Thompson based on the autobiographical novel Who Lie in Gaol by his wife, Joan Henry, starring Glynis Johns and Diana Dors.

<i>I Thank a Fool</i> 1962 film by Robert Stevens

I Thank a Fool is a 1962 British Metrocolor crime film made by Eaton and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in CinemaScope. It was directed by Robert Stevens and produced by Anatole de Grunwald from a screenplay by Karl Tunberg based on the 1958 novel of the same title by Audrey Erskine Lindop. The music score was by Ron Goodwin and the cinematography by Harry Waxman.

<i>Robbery Under Arms</i> (1957 film) 1957 film

Robbery Under Arms is a 1957 British crime film directed by Jack Lee and starring Peter Finch, Ronald Lewis, David McCallum, Laurence Naismith and Jill Ireland. It is based on the 1888 Australian novel Robbery Under Arms by Thomas Alexander Browne who wrote under the pseudonym Rolf Boldrewood.

<i>Kings Rhapsody</i> (film) 1955 film by Herbert Wilcox

King's Rhapsody is a 1955 British musical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Errol Flynn and Patrice Wymore. Wymore was Errol Flynn's wife at the time of filming. It was based on the successful stage musical King's Rhapsody by Ivor Novello.

Muriel Steinbeck Australian actress (1913–1982)

Muriel Myee Steinbeck was an Australian actress who worked extensively in radio, theatre, television and film. She is best known for her performance as the wife of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in Smithy (1946) and for playing the lead role in Autumn Affair (1958–59), Australia's first television serial.

<i>Make Me an Offer</i> 1954 film

Make Me an Offer is a 1954 Eastmancolor British comedy film directed by Cyril Frankel and starring Peter Finch, Adrienne Corri, Rosalie Crutchley and Finlay Currie. It is based on the 1952 novel of the same title by Wolf Mankowitz. It was distributed by British Lion Films.

<i>Lilacs in the Spring</i> 1954 film

Lilacs in the Spring is a 1954 British musical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Errol Flynn and David Farrar. The film was made at Elstree Studios with sets designed by the art director William C. Andrews. Shot in Trucolor it was distributed in Britain by Republic Pictures. It was the first of two films Neagle and Flynn made together, the other being King's Rhapsody. It was released in the United States as Let's Make Up.

Big Toys is a 1977 Australian play by Patrick White. It was his first play in 14 years.

Alan Burke was an Australian writer and film director and producer. His credits include the musical Lola Montez.

"The Concert" is a 1961 Australian TV GTV-9's Melbourne studios. It was directed by Rod Kinnear. Australian TV drama was relatively rare at the time.

Patricia Anne Crocker professionally known as Patti Crocker, was an Australian actress associated with the "golden days of radio in Australia", who also appeared in theatre and on television, primarily in soap opera and commercial advertisement's. She was the author of a memoir detailing her life and career on both radio and subsequently on television.

Group 3 Films

Group 3 Films was a short lived British film production company that operated from 1951 to 1955.


  1. "REVIEWS IN BRIEF". The Sydney Morning Herald . No. 35, 994. New South Wales, Australia. 2 May 1953. p. 10. Retrieved 26 June 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  2. Mayer, Geoff (2004). Roy Ward Baker. Manchester University Press. p. 28. ISBN   9780719063541.
  3. 1 2 "Collected Interviews: Voices from Twentieth-century Cinema". SIU Press. 2001. p. 151. ISBN   9780809324170.
  4. "SHAKESPEARE TONED DOWN". Sunday Times (Perth) . No. 2912. Western Australia. 26 September 1954. p. 9 (MAGAZINE). Retrieved 26 June 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "MARIAN MARCH PAGE". The Advertiser (Adelaide) . Vol. 97, no. 29, 987. South Australia. 23 November 1954. p. 16. Retrieved 26 June 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  6. "Australian Stars Team In New Rank Film". The Newcastle Sun . No. 11, 308. New South Wales, Australia. 1 October 1954. p. 7. Retrieved 26 June 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "Victor Valentine pays a visit to Australian Stars IN LONDON". The Argus . Melbourne: National Library of Australia. 22 January 1955. p. 46. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  8. 1 2 "Peter Finch gets new offer". Sunday Mail . Queensland, Australia. 21 November 1954. p. 4. Retrieved 26 June 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  9. Craig, Michael (2005). The Smallest Giant: An Actor's Life. Allen and Unwin. p. 66.
  10. Vagg, Stephen (23 September 2020). "The Emasculation of Anthony Steel: A Cold Streak Saga". Filmink.