The Captive Heart

Last updated

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
Distributed by General Film Distributors
Release date
  • 29 April 1946 (1946-04-29)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

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]


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]


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.


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.


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]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jaroslav Hašek</span> Czech humorist, satirist, writer and anarchist

Jaroslav Hašek was a Czech writer, humorist, satirist, journalist, bohemian, first anarchist and then communist, and commissar of the Red Army against the Czechoslovak Legion. He is best known for his novel The Fate of the Good Soldier Švejk during the World War, an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a soldier in World War I and a satire on the ineptitude of authority figures. The novel has been translated into about 60 languages, making it the most translated novel in Czech literature.

<i>Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment</i> 1966 British film

Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment is a 1966 comedy film directed by Karel Reisz and starring David Warner, Vanessa Redgrave, and Robert Stephens, with Irene Handl and Bernard Bresslaw. It was made by British Lion and produced by Leon Clore from a screenplay by David Mercer, adapted from his BBC television play A Suitable Case for Treatment (1962), in which the leading role was played by Ian Hendry. A film poster for the film is prominently shown in High-Rise (2015).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dachau concentration camp</span> Nazi concentration camp in Germany before and during World War II

Dachau was one of the first concentration camps built by Nazi Germany and the longest running one, opening on 22 March 1933. The camp was initially intended to intern Hitler's political opponents, which consisted of communists, social democrats, and other dissidents. It is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km (10 mi) northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria, in southern Germany. After its opening by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, Romani, German and Austrian criminals, and, finally, foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded. The Dachau camp system grew to include nearly 100 sub-camps, which were mostly work camps or Arbeitskommandos, and were located throughout southern Germany and Austria. The main camp was liberated by U.S. forces on 29 April 1945.

<i>The Good Soldier Švejk</i> 1921–1923 novel by Jaroslav Hašek

The Good Soldier Švejk is an unfinished satirical dark comedy novel by Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek, published in 1921–1923, about a good-humored, simple-minded, middle-aged man who appears to be enthusiastic to serve Austria-Hungary in World War I.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tadeusz Borowski</span> Polish writer and journalist

Tadeusz Borowski was a Polish writer and journalist. His wartime poetry and stories dealing with his experiences as a prisoner at Auschwitz are recognized as classics of Polish literature.

<i>Dark Blue World</i> 2001 film by Jan Svěrák

Dark Blue World is a 2001 film by Czech director Jan Svěrák, the Academy Award-winning director of Kolya, about Czech pilots who fought for the British Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War. The screenplay was written by Zdeněk Svěrák, the director's father. The film stars Czech actors Ondřej Vetchý, Kryštof Hádek and Oldřich Kaiser. British actors include Tara Fitzgerald, Charles Dance and Anna Massey.

Karel Miloslav Kuttelwascher DFC and Bar was a Czech fighter pilot, and a flying ace of the UK's Royal Air Force (RAF) in the Second World War. He was in combat service from May 1940 to October 1942, first with the French Air Force and then with the RAF.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dachau liberation reprisals</span> Killing of SS guards during the liberation of Dachau

During the Dachau liberation reprisals, German SS troops were killed by U.S. soldiers and concentration camp prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945, during World War II. It is unclear how many SS guards were killed in the incident, but most estimates place the number killed at around 35–50. In the days before the camp's liberation, SS guards at the camp had forced 7,000 inmates on a death march that resulted in the death of many from exposure and shooting. When Allied soldiers liberated Dachau, they were variously shocked, horrified, disturbed, and angered at finding the massed corpses of prisoners, and by the combativeness of some of the remaining guards who allegedly fired on them.

<i>The Hill</i> (1965 film) 1965 British film by Sidney Lumet

The Hill is a 1965 British prison drama war film directed by Sidney Lumet, set in an army prison in North Africa during the Second World War. It stars Sean Connery, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Ossie Davis, Ian Hendry, Alfred Lynch, Roy Kinnear and Michael Redgrave. The screenplay was by Ray Rigby based on the 1965 play of the same name by Rigby and R.S Allen.

<i>Lulu on the Bridge</i> 1998 American film

Lulu on the Bridge is a 1998 American romantic-mystery drama film written and directed by author Paul Auster and starring Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, and Willem Dafoe. The film is about a jazz saxophone player whose life is transformed after being shot. After discovering a mysterious stone, he meets and falls in love with a beautiful aspiring actress, but their happiness is cut short by a series of strange, dreamlike events. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Martin Gottfried Weiss</span> German SS officer

Martin Gottfried Weiss, alternatively spelled Weiß, was the commandant of the Dachau concentration camp in 1945 at the time of his arrest. He also served from April 1940 until September 1942 as the commandant of Neuengamme concentration camp, and later, from November 1943 until May 1944, as the fourth commandant of Majdanek concentration camp. He was executed for war crimes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Josef Beran</span> Czech cardinal, professor and theologist

Josef Beran was a Czech Roman Catholic prelate who served as the Archbishop of Prague from 1946 until his death and was elevated into the cardinalate in 1965.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oflag VI-B</span> World War II German prisoner-of-war camp

Oflag VI-B was a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp for officers (Offizierlager), 1 km (0.6 mi) southwest of the village of Dössel in Germany. It held French, British, Polish and other Allied officers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oflag XXI-B</span> World War II Nazi prisoner-of-war camp

Oflag XXI-B and Stalag XXI-B were World War II German prisoner-of-war camps for officers and enlisted men, located at Szubin a few miles southwest of Bydgoszcz, Poland, which at that time was occupied by Nazi Germany.

The Czechoslovak 11th Infantry Battalion – East was a Czechoslovak infantry battalion in the Second World War. It served under the British Middle East Command in the Mediterranean and Middle East Theatre.

<i>Men Without Wings</i> 1946 film

Men Without Wings is a 1946 Czech drama film directed by František Čáp. It was entered into the 1946 Cannes Film Festival, where it was one of the winners of the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film, later known as the Palme d'Or.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Josef Bryks</span>

Josef Bryks, MBE, was a Czechoslovak cavalryman, fighter pilot, prisoner of war and political prisoner.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Claus Schilling</span> German tropical medicine specialist, war criminal

Claus Karl Schilling, also recorded as Klaus Schilling, was a German tropical medicine specialist who participated in the Nazi human experiments at the Dachau concentration camp during World War II.

<i>Adelheid</i> (film) 1970 Czechoslovak drama film

Adelheid is a 1970 Czechoslovak drama film directed by František Vláčil, based on a 1967 novel of the same name by Czech writer Vladimír Körner. The story is about the complicated relationship between Czech man Viktor and German woman Adelheid, and about relationships between Czechs and Germans in postwar Czechoslovakia in general.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Karel Janoušek</span> Czechoslovak Air Force officer (1893–1971)

Karel Janoušek, was a senior Czechoslovak Air Force officer. He began his career as a soldier, serving in the Austrian Imperial-Royal Landwehr 1915–16, Czechoslovak Legion 1916–20 and Czechoslovak Army 1920–24.


  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.