The Heart of the Matter


Time Out says

Despite its betrayal of Graham Greene's concluding chapters, this is still an atmospheric adaptation; and as the tormented Scobie, Trevor Howard gives what is possibly his finest screen performance. The setting is Sierra Leone in 1942, and Scobie, a Catholic, is the deputy police commissioner whose sympathy for the Africans doesn't go down well with the ex-pats. But Scobie has more serious problems: no longer loving his wife yet consumed by his pity for her, he sends her back to Britain on holiday, having borrowed the money from a local trader. He then falls in love with Maria Schell, a survivor from a torpedoed liner, and when his wife returns, he is blackmailed. Sinking into the depths of despair and religious guilt, he dies fatefully by accident. In the novel he commits suicide, the gravest sin for Catholics, and the heart of the matter was God's capacity for forgiveness. Even so, the intensity of Howard's performance more than compensates, as does the supporting cast (including Finch as a priest, Oury as the blackmailer, and Hordern as Scobie's boss).

By: ATu


Release details

105 mins

Cast and crew

George More O'Ferrall
Ian Dalrymple
Trevor Howard
Elizabeth Allan
Denholm Elliott
Maria Schell
Gérard Oury
George Coulouris
Peter Finch
Earl Cameron
Michael Hordern
Cyril Raymond
You may also like