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The Astonished Heart (1950)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  March 1950 (UK)
6.0
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 203 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 1 critic

The film begins with a scene in which Barbara rings Leonora to tell her that something has happened to Chris. At this point, we don't know who Chris is or what has happened, only that he ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Celia Johnson ...
Barbara Faber
...
Dr. Christian Faber
Margaret Leighton ...
Leonora Vail
Joyce Carey ...
Susan Birch
Graham Payn ...
Tim Verney
Amy Veness ...
Alice Smith
Ralph Michael ...
Philip Lucas
...
Ernest
Patricia Glyn ...
Helen
Alan Webb ...
Sir Reginald
Everley Gregg ...
Miss Harper
John Salew ...
Mr. Bowman
Gerald Anderson ...
Waiter (as Gerald Andersen)
John Warren ...
Barman
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Storyline

The film begins with a scene in which Barbara rings Leonora to tell her that something has happened to Chris. At this point, we don't know who Chris is or what has happened, only that he has lost conciousness. The film then flashes back a year, to when the old friends Barbara and Leonora meet again after having lost contact for many years. Time has not strained their relationship it seems, and Barbara invites Leonora to her house a few days later to meet her husband. Her husband Chris, a pompous, austere psychologist, gets off to a bad start with Leonora. The two despise each other until one night when Barbara has to leave town to look after her mother. Because of this, she is unable to go to the play she had arranged to go with Leonora to. Chris reluctantly decides to go in place of Barbara, and the two hit it off and begin a relationship. Written by Andy Prowse <souffle_tantrum@postmark.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

March 1950 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Hjertets dårskab  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Film debut of Alan Webb. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beautiful and Treacherous
29 November 2013 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The chance to see Noel Coward perform any one of his works is never to be passed up. But The Astonished Heart is inflated out of all proportion from what began as a small one act playlet, part of an octet that comprised Tonight At 8:30.

Another of the playlets from this group was also similarly inflated by MGM as a vehicle for Norma Shearer and Melvyn Douglas. There just was not enough there to warrant the inflation. Coward does marginally better when he inflates it himself.

The English are so terribly civilized about infidelity. That must be the reason that there was never the equivalent of the state of Nevada, a Reno where spouses can soak the adulterer in court. I'm thinking that this particular Coward work did not play well in America as opposed to others.

Coward after years of what was a humdrum marriage to Celia Johnson falls hard for Margaret Leighton who is both beautiful and treacherous. She's an old friend of Johnson's who drops in and one night when Johnson can't make a social engagement, Coward takes Leighton and he descends down hill from there.

Coward in the story is a psychiatrist, a profession that's supposed to have all the answers for human behavior. But his training hasn't given him any answers. Johnson might just take him back, but he can't bring himself to make a move. It all ends badly.

As we know Coward was gay and this film offers us a rare chance to see Graham Payn who was his partner in life and whose career was mostly on the English stage. Payn plays an office assistant to Coward. But I wonder if some previous relationship went bad for him and Coward being the good story teller that he is was writing about something that happened in his own life.

He also understood the human psyche well and certainly pride can be a double edged weapon in our character. It's pride that keeps Coward from doing the right thing all around.

Coward did a far better job than MGM did in inflating one of his short plays to a full blown drama. But while it's good, it's not up there with Private Lives or Blithe Spirit.


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