The High Bright Sun

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The High Bright Sun
Directed by Ralph Thomas
Produced by Betty E. Box
Written by Ian Stuart Black
Bryan Forbes (uncredited)[1]
Based on novel by Ian Stuart Black
Starring Dirk Bogarde
Susan Strasberg
George Chakiris
Music by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
Cinematography Ernest Steward
Edited by Alfred Roome
Release dates
February 1965
Running time
114 mins
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The High Bright Sun is a 1964 British action film directed by Ralph Thomas and starring Dirk Bogarde, George Chakiris and Susan Strasberg.[2] It is set in Cyprus during the EOKA uprising against British rule in the 1950s. It was based on a 1962 novel by Ian Stuart Black.


In 1957, Juno (Susan Strasberg), an American archaeology student, is visiting Cyprus and staying with the family of her father's best friend, Dr Andros (Joseph Furst). She witnesses an attack by two EOKA gunmen which results in the death of two British soldiers, but is unable to identify the killers to the local British intelligence officer, Major McGuire (Dirk Bogarde).

Juno then realises that fugitive EOKA General Skyros (Gregoire Aslan) is hiding in the house and Dr Andros is an EOKA collaborator. EOKA fighter Haghios (George Chakiris) wants to kill Juno, in part because of her growing romantic relationship with McGuire.

Haghios organises an ambush to kill Juno, but she is saved by Dr Andros' son, Emile, who is mortally wounded. Juno escapes and is rescued by McGuire, who brings her to his apartment. Haghios leads an attack on McGuire's apartment, which is unsuccessful, in part because of help from fellow British intelligence officer, Baker (Denholm Elliott), who had an affair with McGuire's wife.

Juno flies to Athens and realises that Haghios is on the plane. On arrival, Haghios tries to kill her again, mortally wounding Baker, but is shot dead by McGuire. Juno is reunited with McGuire.



It was the first British feature film to depict the Cyprus Emergency. However there had been a number of British TV plays on the subject prior to that including One Morning Near Troodos (1956), Arrow in the Air (1957), Air Mail from Cyprus (1958), Incident at Echo Six (1958) and The Interrogator (1961). There had also been Peter Barnes' stage play Sclerosis (1965) and the novels Violence in Paradise (1957), The Bad Summer (1958), Interrupted Journey (1958) and Ian Stuart Black's The High Bright Sun (1962), which formed the basis of the film.[3]

Film rights were bought by Betty Box under the aegis of the Rank Organisation. Ian Stuart Black was hired to adapt his own novel.[4] Box hired Bryan Forbes to do some additional work on the script, saying "he was paid rather a lot of money, I thought, for what he eventually produced". Box said this mostly consisted of a 12 minute scene between Denholm Elliott and Bogarde, and a few extra lines of dialogue.[5]

Shirley Ann Field was originally announced for the female lead but Rank wanted an international name.[6] Box and Thomas tried Jane Fonda, Jean Seberg and Lee Remick but they turned the role down; Susan Strasberg was cast.[7]

It was said to be the most expensive film made by the team of Box and Thomas[8] and the most ambitious film they had ever done.[9]

Chakiris was paid $100,000, Strasberg $50,000 and Bogarde £30,000. Uniformed extras were provided from the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment based in Malta.[10] Eli Wallach was mentioned as possible casting[11] but ended up not appearing in the final film.

The character of Spyros was based on George Grivas.[12]

Filming began in June 1964. It took place on location for a month in Bari, Foggia and the Gargano in Southern Italy, which stood in for Cyprus.[1][13] Cyprus was considered too dangerous to film, fighting having broken out there again in December 1963. The unit then transferred to Pinewood Studios.[14] Northolt Airport stood in for Athens Airport.[15]

Bogarde had made a number of films with Box and Thomas and the three of them generally got along very well. However on this film Bogart was difficult and temperamental.[16] This was the last film he made with Box and Thomas.[17]


The movie's script and release downplayed the political implications of the film. Most contemporary reviews were poor, with criticism of the minimal mention of the Turkish population.[18][19]

The movie was a disappointment at the box office.[20]

The film was released in the US as McGuire, Go Home.

According to Jonathan Stubbs, "the film depicts the decline of British rule without nostalgia, suggesting that the soldiers caused upon to maintain British sovereignty during the Cyprus Emergency were disillusioned and bitterly disengaged from the values which traditionally under pinned traditional power."[21]

Ralph Thomas later build a house in Cyprus near Kyrenia.[22]


  1. ^ a b Betty Box, Lifting the Lid, The Book Guild, 2000, p 237-250
  2. ^
  3. ^ Stubbs p 105-106
  4. ^ Stubbs p 107
  5. ^ Box p 249
  6. ^ "Shirley Ann Field" at Crawleys Casting Calls
  7. ^ Box p 238
  8. ^ Pinewood carries on--with £9m Our own Reporter. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 18 Feb 1964: 5.
  9. ^ BRITISH SCREEN SCENE: Augury of a Busy Production Season -- Scouts -- Starlet -- 'Strangelove' By STEPHEN WATTS. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 01 Mar 1964: X9.
  10. ^ Stubbs p 108
  11. ^ Play Readings Lure to Actors, Backers: O'Toole Confused by Babel; Dirk Bogarde's Sun Shines Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 01 June 1964: C21
  12. ^ Stubbs p 109
  13. ^ The villa used for filming is the Villa Basso see - Villa Basso website
  14. ^ Stubbs p 108
  15. ^ Box p 249
  16. ^ Box p 242
  17. ^ Stubbs p 108
  18. ^ Stubbs p 112-113
  19. ^ NEW FILMS IN LONDON Roud, Richard. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 05 Feb 1965: 13.
  20. ^ Altria, B "Survey of Success", Kinematograph Weekly 16 December 1965 p 22
  21. ^ Stubbs p 105
  22. ^ Box p 238
  • Jonathan Stubbs, ‘Always ready to explode into violence!’ Representing the Cyprus Emergency and decolonization in The High Bright Sun (1965) Journal of European Popular Culture Vol 6 Issue 2 2015

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