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THE HEART OF THE MATTER

Director: GEORGE MORE O'FERRALL

105 minutes| U.K.| 1953| Black and White| 35mm


This is a solidly faithful adaptation of one of Greene’s most popular novels, about an honest English policeman in Sierra Leone whose moral and religious probity are tested to breaking point when he is compelled to borrow money from a dubious Syrian trader and then falls in love with a young widow (Maria Schell). Sympathetically cast throughout, the film is dominated by a magnificent performance from Greene’s favourite actor, Trevor Howard, whose furrowed forehead at times seems about to implode under the pressure of events. As ‘Scobie the Just’, he embodies the torment of a man of principle unexpectedly caught up in a maelstrom of passion that undermines his belief in self and in God. The ending has been modified to reflect the director’s own religious scruples but is still effective on its own terms, and the film unobtrusively but successfully transmits Greene’s particular gift of combining moral complexity with an exciting narrative.

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