Sapphire (film)

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UK release poster
Directed by Basil Dearden
Produced by Michael Relph
Earl St. John (executive producer)
Written by Janet Green
Starring Nigel Patrick
Yvonne Mitchell
Michael Craig
Paul Massie
Earl Cameron
Bernard Miles
Music by Philip Green
Cinematography Harry Waxman
Edited by John D. Guthridge
Release date
  • 21 April 1959 (1959-04-21) (United Kingdom)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Sapphire is a 1959 British crime drama. It focuses on racism in London toward immigrants from the West Indies and explores the "underlying insecurities and fears of ordinary people" that exist towards another race.[1] The film was directed by Basil Dearden and stars Nigel Patrick, Earl Cameron and Yvonne Mitchell. It received the BAFTA Award for Best Film and screenwriter Janet Green won a 1960 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Foreign Film Screenplay.[2] It was considered a progressive movie for its time.[3]

Earl Cameron, who played the part of Sapphire's brother,[1] would appear two years later in another English film dealing with racial issues, the 1961 film Flame in the Streets.[4]


The body of a pregnant young woman is found stabbed on Hampstead Heath. Although she appears to be white, when her brother (Earl Cameron) arrives at the police station to give evidence, the investigating police officers see that he is black. He confirms that he and Sapphire were both the children of a white father and a black mother, but Sapphire has recently been passing for white.[5] Sapphire's white boyfriend, a student, immediately becomes the chief suspect, but, as the investigation proceeds, other aspects of Sapphire's life in London bring to light other possible suspects.


Critical reception[edit]

The New York Times wrote, "If "Sapphire" is not entirely in a class by itself, the combination of murder mystery and racial issues puts it several interesting cuts above standard movie melodrama."[6]

Paperback novelization[edit]

In April 1959, Panther Books of London issued a screenplay novelization by prolific mystery and thriller novelist E.G. Cousins.


External links[edit]