The Astonished Heart (film)
|The Astonished Heart|
|Directed by||Terence Fisher|
|Produced by||Antony Darnborough|
|Written by||Noël Coward|
|Music by||Noël Coward
William Blezard (uncredited)
|Edited by||Vladimir Sagovsky|
|Distributed by||General Film Distributors (UK)|
|March 1950 (UK)|
|Box office||21,168 admissions (France)|
The Astonished Heart is a 1950 British drama film directed by Terence Fisher. It stars Celia Johnson, Noël Coward, and Margaret Leighton, and is based on Coward's play The Astonished Heart from his cycle of ten plays, Tonight at 8:30.
Inspired by the great success of the 1945 film Brief Encounter, which also had been adapted from Tonight at 8:30, Coward agreed to have The Astonished Heart produced as a motion picture. As with the previous film, Coward also wrote the screenplay. Production began in 1949 and featured not only Noël Coward in one of his rare film appearances, but also actor-singer Graham Payn in a supporting role. The Astonished Heart was released in 1950 to indifferent reviews and was a commercial failure.
The film follows the growing obsession of a psychiatrist (Coward) for a good-time girl (Leighton) and the resulting tragedy this leads to. The doctor quotes Deuteronomy 28, Verse 28: "The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and admonishment of heart," foreshadowing his path while making reference to the movie title.
"The May-December affair between a psychteroniatrist and young blond destroys his seemingly blissful relationship with his wife" [This TV]. In the end, Dr. Christian Faber's obsession with his beautiful mistress, Leanora Vail, leads him to commit suicide by jumping from the roof of the apartment building where he lived with his wife and conducted business with his partner Tim and assistant Susan. He lives long enough to ask for Leanora, yet, does not know it is her thinking it is his wife (Barbara) instead, then says a few words and dies.
- Celia Johnson as Barbara Faber
- Noël Coward as Dr. Christian Faber
- Margaret Leighton as Leanora Vail
- Joyce Carey as Susan Birch
- Graham Payn as Tim Verney
- Amy Veness as Alice Smith
- Ralph Michael as Philip Lucas
- Michael Hordern as Ernest
- Patricia Glyn as Helen
- Alan Webb as Sir Reginald
- Everley Gregg as Miss Harper
- John Salew as Mr. Bowman
This black and white Noel Coward film from 1950 is something of a morality play with Faustian overtones. Although it has yet to receive the public appreciation it deserves it may do so eventually now that it is on Netflix. All five central characters share a remarkable capacity to understand and empathize with one another despite the tight spots that Coward placed them in. Such qualities should be a psychiatrist’s stock in trade but they are no match for the irrational desire that erupts in, and ultimately destroys, the reserved, self-confident psychiatrist in this story. Coward gives the admonition "Physician heal thy self" an ironic twist by causing his psychiatrist to suffer from the same malady as one of his own, intelligent patients. Only after he has fallen from his professional pedestal does he realize that he had been giving this patient the wrong advice. This is not a story about lust and jealousy so much as a powerful portrait of a man's driven, unconscious mind taking down his stable, rational mind. Yet at the same time that Coward documents its downfall he celebrates the extraordinary power of ordinary love that shines through the supporting characters from start to finish. Coward not only played the psychiatrist in this film but he also wrote the screenplay and composed the music for it.
- Box office information for Terence Fisher films in France at Box office Story
- "Home to Danger (1951) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast". AllMovie. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
- "The Astonished Heart , 1950". film.fm. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "The Astonished Heart (1950)". nzbmovieseeker.com. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "Movie Review - - THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; Noel Coward's The Astonished Heart' Has Its Premiere at the Park Ave. Theatre". NYTimes.com. 1950-02-15. Retrieved 2014-06-22.