The Hasty Heart

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The Hasty Heart
The Hasty Heart.jpg
Original film poster
Directed byVincent Sherman
Produced byRussel Crouse
Howard Lindsay
Written byRanald MacDougall
John Patrick (play)
StarringRichard Todd
Ronald Reagan
Patricia Neal
Music byJack Beaver
CinematographyWilkie Cooper
Edited byEdward B. Jarvis
Distributed byAssociated British-Pathé (UK)
Warner Bros. (US)
Release date
13 September 1949 (Premiere, London)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£248,584 (UK)[1]

The Hasty Heart is a 1949 Anglo-American co-production directed by Vincent Sherman and starring Ronald Reagan, Patricia Neal, and Richard Todd. The film based is based on the play of the same name by John Patrick.

The Hasty Heart tells the story of a group of wounded Allied soldiers in a Pacific theatre mobile surgery unit immediately after World War II ends who, after initial resentment and ostracism, rally around a loner, unappreciative Scottish soldier they know is dying.


In Burma during the Pacific War in 1945, a group of wounded Allied soldiers are at a makeshift British military hospital in the jungle. As they've all been there for quite some time, they have a strong bond. "Yank" (Ronald Reagan) is the lone American there, recovering from malaria, along with Tommy (Howard Marion-Crawford), the Englishman, Kiwi (Ralph Michael), the New Zealander, Digger (John Sherman), the Australian, and Blossom (Orlando Martins), the African. They are all under the care of the friendly nurse, Sister Margaret Parker (Patricia Neal).

The senior doctor of the hospital, Lt Col Dunn (Anthony Nicholls), tells the men that they will be receiving a new patient soon, and that they should be extra kind to him. He is a Scot, and, while he seems to have recovered from his operation, his abnormal kidney means that he will die within a few weeks. Dunn tells the men that the Scot will be outwardly healthy until one day he will suddenly die when his kidney fails. When the Scot arrives, Cpl. Lachlan 'Lachie' MacLachlan (Richard Todd) is very gruff and mean. He is constantly suspicious of his fellow patients attempting to make friends with him.

Margaret tries to convince Lachie to buy a regimental kilt, something he feels is too expensive to purchase since he had recently bought a house in Scotland to which he intends to return. However, during Lachie's 24th birthday party, Margaret gives him a kilt and the rest of his friends contribute something for his uniform. Lachie is proud, and they all have a photoshoot, with them trying to answer the question of whether he wears anything under his kilt.

Lachie warms to the soldiers and opens up about his past, telling them, "They say sorrow is born in the hasty heart." He reveals to Margaret that his aloof and suspicious behaviour is the result of great cruelty inflicted on him in his youth as an illegitimate child. Later he confesses to Yank that he is in love with Margaret and will propose to her. Yank tries to convince him otherwise, but when Lachie does propose she accepts because that is what will make him really happy.

Dunn comes to the ward and tells Lachie that he can return to Scotland immediately if he wishes. When Lachie asks why he is receiving special treatment, the doctor tells him the truth about his condition and that his death is imminent. Lachie explodes at his friends, thinking they befriended him only because he was sick and dying. He decides to return to Scotland, but as he is leaving he breaks down and says he does not want to die alone. Blossom offers him a necklace, but when Lachie rejects it Yank explains that Blossom does not speak English and therefore could not have known that Lachie was dying. Once he realises that, Lachie softens and decides to stay on and have his picture taken in his uniform with the men.



Warner Bros bought the film rights to the play for $100,000 and a percentage of the profits in 1945. The originally announced John Dall would play the lead of Lachie.[2]

The film was adapted by Ranald MacDougall from Patrick's play, and directed by Vincent Sherman. Art Direction was performed by Terence Verity.

"I wasn't right at all for the nurse," said Patricia Neal. "But it was my first sympathetic part, at least."[3]


Box office[edit]

The film was the tenth most popular movie at the British box office in 1949.[4]


Richard Todd (who won the role over Gordon Jackson)[5] was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. The film also won two Golden Globes (Richard Todd for "Most Promising Newcomer – Male" and for "Best Film Promoting International Understanding")

TV remakes[edit]

The Hasty Heart was remade for television in 1957[6] and 1983,[7] the latter starring Gregory Harrison, Perry King and Cheryl Ladd. King won a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p490
  2. ^ "SCREEN NEWS: Warners Pay $100,000 Down for 'Hasty Heart' Joan Blondell Gets Top Part" New York Times 19 Feb 1945: 21.
  3. ^ PORTRAIT OF THE LADY NAMED NEAL By HOWARD THOMPSON. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 02 Nov 1952: X5.
  4. ^ "TOPS AT HOME". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 31 December 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  5. ^ Vallance, Tom (5 December 2009). "Richard Todd: D-Day veteran and actor celebrated for his role as Guy Gibson in 'The Dam Busters'". The Independent. London.
  6. ^ The Hasty Heart (1957) on IMDb
  7. ^ The Hasty Heart (1983) on IMDb
  8. ^ "Winners & Nominees: Perry King".

External links[edit]