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The Heart of the Matter (1953)

Approved | | Drama | 8 February 1954 (USA)
An unhappily married British security officer stationed in Sierra Leone during WWII falls in love with a young German woman and starts an affair. He soon starts feeling guilty.

Writers:

(novel), (adapted by) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 4 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

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Storyline

An unhappily married British security officer stationed in Sierra Leone during WWII falls in love with a young German woman and starts an affair. He soon starts feeling guilty.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

africa | based on novel | See All (2) »

Taglines:

The instant...when a man must choose! Which woman? Which code? Which life?

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

8 February 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Herz aller Dinge  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Instead of an original score, recordings of indigenous music were made during location photography in Sierra Leone and worked into the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Providence: The Heart of the Matter (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Market Steps
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by A. Bangors and F. Morris
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User Reviews

 
A brilliant performance in a thought-provoking film
11 October 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Trevor Howard is a policeman who tries to get to "The Heart of the Matter" in this 1953 film based on the Graham Greene novel. It also stars Elizabeth Allan and Maria Schell. Howard plays Harry Scobie, a police officer in Sierra Leone. He and his wife have lost their young daughter, and now his wife is miserable in Sierra Leone. In order to get money for a trip for her, Scobie borrows money from an unsavory character - later on, this will lead to problems for him with his superiors. He meets a stranded widow, Helen (Schell), and the two fall in love. When his wife returns, he is faced with a religious dilemma. She is told he has been fooling around. She wants him to go to church with her and take Communion - meaning, of course, that he would have confessed his adulterous sin to the local priest. In fact, the priest comes to the house. The priest cannot accept his confession, because Scobie doesn't believe he can stop seeing Helen. In order to hide this from his wife, he commits the mortal sin of going to communion not in the state of grace.

Stripped down to the religious elements of this film, "The Heart of the Matter" doesn't sound like much. But it has a very high resonance if you're Catholic, suicide is the unforgivable sin, you can't go to communion unless you've been to confession, etc.

Trevor Howard gives a very profound performance as a man who has lost everything except his religion and who describes hell as eternal wanting. As a man who lost sight long ago of what he wants, he lives in a private hell that the surrounding locations only emphasize.

A slow, pessimistic film, a great performance, well worth seeing if you're on antidepressants.


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