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The Heart Of The Matter [DVD] [1953]

4.1 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Trevor Howard, Elizabeth Allan, Maria Schell, Denholm Elliott, Gérard Oury
  • Directors: George More O'Ferrall
  • Writers: Graham Greene, Ian Dalrymple, Lesley Storm
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Studiocanal
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Sept. 2006
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HEVTC2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,499 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

A faithful adaptation of the Graham Greene novel starring Trevor Howard as Scobie, an assistant police commissioner posted in Sierra Leone in World War 2. Exploring familiar Greene themes such as religion and work politics, the film co-stars Elizabeth Allan and Maria Schell as the wronged wife and the hard done by mistress.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Set in West Africa during WWII, an unhappily married police inspector (Trevor Howard) in the British colony of Sierra Leone, who is a devout Catholic, struggles with his conscience when he has an affair with a recently widowed young woman (Maria Schell). This situation is only exacerbated when he is blackmailed by a diamond smuggler (Gerard Oury) into compromising himself. Based on the highly acclaimed novel (Time named it one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century) by Graham Greene, the film stays remarkably close to the novel (except for the ending) and is anchored by a compelling performance by Howard, who gets under the very skin of a man torn apart by his betrayal of his wife, his mistress, his job and his God. The change of ending from the novel is odd only in that the film's ending is just as bleak as the novel's, so why bother to change it? Directed by George More O'Ferrell, the film keeps the spirit of Greene's work while compacting it. The excellent supporting cast includes Elizabeth Allan (an English import at MGM in the 1930s) as Howard's wife, Peter Finch, Michael Hordern, George Coulouris and Denholm Elliott as an insufferable snitch in love with Allan.

The Optimum DVD from Great Britain is a nice, solid transfer.
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This is a good film as far as it goes, in that the acting is excellent and moving (particularly that of Trevor Howard and Maria Schell,with subtle performances from the supporting cast),and the steamy atmosphere of Colonial West Africa is well caught. However, it certainly lacks the depth and complexity of Greene's original novel - which I would urge anyone unfamiliar with it to read - and does not really do justice to the appalling tensions faced by the main characters, nor indeed to the undercurrent of menace which pervades the original book. The actors battle valiantly to convey these features but there just isn't sufficient material. Too much is omitted. However, despite the limitations it is a taut and entertaining drama and, despite frustrations, I enjoyed it.
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If you like Graham Greene then this film and the acting will not disappoint. Trevor Howard and the cast seem to be true enbodiments of the characters in the book. Rather as if one is seeing the real people that the author wrote about, rather than actors in a story.

The black and white film at it's best, where the narrative and the acting tell a story with authentic mood and the depth of character the writer creates in the book. "Heart of the Matter" is a study of personal interioral conflicts and finally the unbearable anguish of a difficult marriage that does not end happily.

The pressures of colonial life and the mental and geographical isolation that some officers and officials experienced are enacted by Howard with an uncomfortable realism, so that at the end of the film, even knowing the outcome the tragedy still has an impact.
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Trevor Howard is absolutely magnificent as Graham Greene's colonial policeman fracturally trying to do the right thing by his job, by the women in his life, and by his God. "Isn't he the typical second man," his frustrated wife Louise (Elizabeth Allan) bitterly observes as he hurries off on another duty, "the man who always does the work." It's a comment that could equally apply to Howard's own subsequent career. After a run of leading-roles - of which this one was the finest -he dropped to the No.2 spot in support of bigger Hollywood names and after 1960 was top-billed in a major big-screen production only once, as Lord Cardigan in THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE. All the more reason to cherish his performance here as Harry Scobie, deputy-commissioner in wartime Sierra Leone, a conscientious and respected officer for fifteen years who's passed over for promotion to the chagrin of his wife who feels socially isolated. Scobie no longer loves her but pities her unhappiness for which he feels responsible and promises to fund a break to South Africa for her. When the bank turns him down for a loan he borrows the money from Yusef (Gerard Oury) a local trader with fingers in many murky pies who's suspected of diamond-smuggling. Scobie had once saved Yusef from a prison-sentence by telling the truth in court rather than distort evidence and the Syrian is always ready to offer him support knowing it could be used to his own advantage. A young company-clerk Wilson (Denholm Elliott) makes advances to Louise but she firmly rejects him. He's actually a police-spy investigating the smuggling and his suspicion that Scobie may be capable of corruption is intensified by his own jealousy.Read more ›
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the african backdrop is very beautiful and interesting
the two romances develop in a believable way
the last half hour about roman catholic conscience seems ridiculous in this day and age
but greene on the way provides nuggets of wisdom
'loving someone gives people power over you '
perhaps terrorists do not love or care as they know the peril of loving
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Is a classic. However, in the acting style of the period, Trevor Howard portrayed his character's stiff Britishness in such a stilted fashion that you feel like shaking him. It is, nevertheless, worth seeing.
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