The Feminine Touch (1956 film)

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The Feminine Touch
The Feminine Touch (1956) Movie Poster.jpg
UK quad format cinema poster
Directed by Pat Jackson
Screenplay by W. P. Lipscomb (uncredited)
Richard Mason (uncredited)
Based onA Lamp Is Heavy
1950 novel
by Sheila Mackay Russell
Produced by Michael Balcon
Jack Rix
Starring George Baker
Belinda Lee
Delphi Lawrence
Cinematography Paul Beeson
Edited by Peter Bezencenet
Music by Clifton Parker
Distributed by J. Arthur Rank Film Distributors
Release date
  • 27 March 1956 (1956-03-27)(UK)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Feminine Touch is a 1956 colour British drama film directed by Pat Jackson and starring George Baker, Belinda Lee and Delphi Lawrence. The film is based on the bestselling novel A Lamp Is Heavy by Canadian former nurse Sheila Mackay Russell, [1] and consequently it was released as A Lamp Is Heavy in Canada, while it was given the title The Gentle Touch in the United States, when it was released there in December 1957. [2]



The film follows five very different student nurses during their first year of training at an NHS hospital in London called St. Augustine's Hospital (filmed at Guy's Hospital), where they live in a dormitory. However, of the five, the main focus is Susan.

Susan (Belinda Lee) is reliable and sensible; Pat (Delphi Lawrence) is flighty and open; Maureen (Adrienne Corri) is Irish and loud; Ann (Henryetta Edwards) is a former public school girl; and Liz (Barbara Archer) comes from a working class background. As they get to know each other, they bond in spite of their differences.

Susan falls in love with Dr Jim Alcott. She is tempted to leave nursing to go with Jim to Canada but decides not to go after helping a patient who tried to commit suicide. However, after a talk with Matron, she decides to join Jim in Canada.

Mandy Miller plays a young patient with a heart condition, convinced that she is going to die.

When it is revealed that one of the group stayed out all night to be with one of the doctors she faces instant dismissal until it is revealed that she has been married for a month. Although also against the rules the nurses philosophise with the matron that this is more admirable than the nurses sneaking out to have affairs: which is tolerated by the system.

Main cast

Canadian poster, with the title A Lamp is Heavy. A Lamp Is Heavy (1956) Movie Poster.jpg
Canadian poster, with the title A Lamp is Heavy.


The film was based on a 1950 book, The Lamp is Heavy by Sheila Russell. Russell was from Canada, and worked as a nurse in Edmonton. She married a doctor in 1947. The novel was published in the Commonwealth in 1954. [3] It sold 75,000 copies over five years. [4] Russell later wrote another novel called The Living Earth (1954). [5]

Michael Balcon of Ealing wanted to make a hospital film but Sir John Davis of Rank was reluctant; eventually Balcon managed to get approval for this movie. [6]

It was the first Ealing movie directed by Pat Jackson, who had previously made an earlier film about nursing, White Corridors (1951). It was one of the last pair of films made at Ealing Studios, which had been sold to the BBC, and one of the last Ealing movies under the nine-year relationship between Rank and Ealing. (Ealing would move to MGM studios, make several more movies, then be wound up.) [7] [8] [9]

It was an early star role for Belinda Lee. [10] It was one of several "sensible girl" parts she played for Rank. [11] Dorothy Alison was an Australian actor. [12]

Film rights were bought by Rank in early 1955. Filming began in late June 1955 at Pinewood Studios. [13] There was location work at Guy's Hospital. "I'm not surprised that there is a change in title", said Russell. "After all, in England the 'lamp' is still pretty heavy for nurses." [14]


Variety called it "worthwhile, and as a piece of romantic entertainment, it is more than adequate. Pic has valuable exploitation angles which should help returns in the domestic market... yarn has few comedy touches as well as strong dramatic angles... Cast is competent .without being standout. Miss Lee, a handsome blonde, is rapidly improving as an actress." [15]

The Monthly Film Bulletin said "this latest example of nurse recruitment by film adds little to what has been said by previous productions of this kind." [16]

The Observer said it was "not very good drama, I'm afraid." [17]

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  1. Sanderson, Kay (1999). 200 Remarkable Alberta Women. Calgary: Famous Five Foundation. p. 99.
  2. IMDb: The Feminine Touch – release info Linked 2015-05-15
  3. "Girls in blue". The Daily Telegraph . Vol. XIX, no. 203. New South Wales, Australia. 13 November 1954. p. 8. Retrieved 4 August 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  4. "Six Titles of Interest in the Field of Current Fiction: Nightingales Hen Medic Rural Alcoholic Troubled Village Death-Wish C.O., Muddled". New York Times. 2 July 1950. p. BR7.
  5. 9-10 of Volume 2 of Literary History of Alberta: From the End of the War to the End of the Century, by George Melnyk, 1999, University of Alberta Press.
  6. Harper, Sue; Porter, Vincent (2003). British Cinema of The 1950s The Decline of Deference. Oxford University Press USA. pp. 66–68.
  7. Barr, Charles (1977). Ealing studios. Cameron & Tayleur. p. 178.
  8. "Ealing Ends 9 Year Pact with Rank". Variety. 15 February 1956. p. 12.
  9. "Keep British Flavour". Variety. 29 February 1956. p. 18.
  10. "Film Fan— Fare". The Australian Women's Weekly . Vol. 24, no. 24. 14 November 1956. p. 35. Retrieved 4 August 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  11. Vagg, Stephen (7 September 2020). "A Tale of Two Blondes: Diana Dors and Belinda Lee". Filmink.
  12. "Screen boom for Dorothy". The Australian Women's Weekly . Vol. 23, no. [?]. 25 January 1956. p. 36. Retrieved 4 August 2020 via National Library of Australia.
  13. Aitken, Margaret (28 June 1955). "Between You and Me". Vancouver News Herald. p. 4.
  14. "Title Changed for Film of City Author's Book". Edmonton Journal. 27 July 1955. p. 27.
  15. Review of film at Variety
  16. "FEMININE TOUCH, The". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 23, no. 264. London. 1 January 1956. p. 56.
  17. Lejeune, C A. (1 April 1956). "Suspense Story". The Observer. London (UK). p. 10.