The Captive Heart

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The Captive Heart
The Captive Heart poster.jpg
Original British 1946 quad film poster
Directed by Basil Dearden
Screenplay by Angus MacPhail
Guy Morgan
Story by Patrick Kirwan
Produced by Michael Balcon
Michael Relph (associate producer)
Starring Michael Redgrave
Mervyn Johns
Basil Radford
Rachel Kempson
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe
Lionel Banes
Edited by Charles Hasse
Music by Alan Rawsthorne
Production
company
Distributed by General Film Distributors
Release date
  • 29 April 1946 (1946-04-29)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

The Captive Heart is a 1946 British war drama, directed by Basil Dearden and starring Michael Redgrave. It is about a Czechoslovak Army officer who is captured in the Fall of France and spends five years as a prisoner of war, during which time he forms a long-distance relationship with the widow of a British Army officer. The film was entered into the 1946 Cannes Film Festival. [1]

Contents

The film is partly based on the true story of a Czechoslovak officer in the RAF Volunteer Reserve, Josef Bryks MBE, and his relationship with a British WAAF, Gertrude Dellar, who was the widow of an RAF pilot. [2]

Plot

In 1940 France, Czechoslovak Army Captain Karel Hašek escapes from Dachau and assumes the identity of a dead British officer, Geoffrey Mitchell. He later winds up with British prisoners of war, captured when the Germans overrun the French. They are marched to a prison camp in western Germany. Hasek is initially suspected of being a spy by his fellow prisoners. Some wish to lynch him, but Major Dalrymple, the senior British officer, hears Hašek out and believes his story. To avoid suspicion, he maintains the fiction that Mitchell is still alive, corresponding with his widow Celia. Prior to the war, Mitchell had abandoned his wife and their two children. But Hašek's letters, supposedly written by her husband, rekindle Celia's love.

Some time later, Herr Forster, who ran Dachau during Hašek's stay, visits the camp. Hašek fears he may be unmasked. Forster compliments him on his nearly perfect German and seems to recognise him, but cannot quite place him. Later, Forster tells Hašek he knows he is not Mitchell and that his photograph has been sent to Berlin for identification. Soon after, it is announced that some prisoners are to be repatriated, but when Hašek goes for his medical exam, he is turned away. A plan to save him is devised without his knowledge. Late one night, Private Mathews, a burglar in civilian life, breaks into the kommandant's office. Locating the list of those to be repatriated, he replaces his own identity with that of Mitchell/Hašek. The plan works, and Hašek is "returned" to Britain.

He travels to Celia's residence and breaks the news of her husband's death. She is devastated, and Hašek leaves. After she recovers, however, she rereads his letters, realizing that she has fallen in love with the writer. When Hašek calls her on the telephone on VE Day, she is eager to speak with him.

Main cast

Many of the prisoners were played by serving soldiers.

Production

Locations included the ex-naval prisoner of war camp Marlag, near Westertimke, which had remained largely intact after the end of the war the previous year, and Aston Rowant railway station.

Reception

According to trade papers, the film was a "notable box office attraction" at the British box office in 1946. [3] [4] Another source says it was the fourth biggest hit at the British box office in 1946 after The Wicked Lady , The Bells of St Marys and Piccadilly Incident . [5] According to Kinematograph Weekly the 'biggest winner' at the box office in 1946 Britain was The Wicked Lady, with "runners up" being The Bells of St Marys, Piccadilly Incident, The Road to Utopia, Tomorrow is Forever, Brief Encounter, Wonder Man, Anchors Away, Kitty, The Captive Heart, The Corn is Green, Spanish Main, Leave Her to Heaven, Gilda, Caravan, Mildred Pierce, Blue Dahlia, Years Between, O.S.S., Spellbound, Courage of Lassie, My Reputation, London Town, Caesar and Cleopatra, Meet the Navy, Men of Two Worlds, Theirs is the Glory, The Overlanders, and Bedelia. [6]

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References

  1. "Festival de Cannes: The Captive Heart". Festival-Cannes. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  2. "Josef Bryks". Free Czechoslovak Air Force. 20 February 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  3. Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p209
  4. Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32, no. 3. p. 258.
  5. "Hollywood Sneaks In 15 Films on '25 Best' List of Arty Britain". The Washington Post. 15 January 1947. p. 2.
  6. Lant, Antonia (1991). Blackout : reinventing women for wartime British cinema. Princeton University Press. p. 232.