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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 World War II falls in love with a young Austrian woman and starts an affair. He soon starts feeling guilty.


Lesley Storm (adapted by), Ian Dalrymple (script)
Nominated for 4 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Trevor Howard ... Harry Scobie
Elizabeth Allan ... Louise Scobie
Maria Schell ... Helen Rolt
Denholm Elliott ... Wilson
Peter Finch ... Father Rank
Gérard Oury ... Yusef (as Gerard Oury)
George Coulouris ... Portuguese Captain
Michael Hordern ... Commissioner
Learn more

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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


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




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


This movie was entered into the 1953 Cannes Film Festival. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: FREETOWN, 1942. See more »


Featured in Dangerous Edge: A Life of Graham Greene (2013) See more »


Ferry Song
Arranged by Edric Connor
See more »

User Reviews

A magnificent performance from Trevor Howard
5 May 2016 | by MOscarbradleySee all my reviews

Scobie was perhaps the most tortured of all of Graham Greene's tortured Catholics and he's played magnificently by that most underrated of great actors, Trevor Howard in George More O'Ferrall's mostly superb and largely forgotten screen version of "The Heart of the Matter". One reason Scobie is such a tortured Catholic is that he is torn between the faith he's largely lost since the death of his daughter and his love for a young refugee, (another wonderful performance from Maria Schell); he's happy to sleep with her but thinks he will go to hell if he takes Holy Communion while in mortal sin.

This is a wonderfully acted picture throughout; Howard and Schell may have the best of it but note too Elizabeth Allan, she of "A Tale of Two Cities" and "David Copperfield", as Scobie's adulterous wife, Denholm Elliot as the young man besotted by her and Gerard Oury as the diamond smuggler who blackmails Scobie. The plot may be a trifle grim and all that Catholic guilt proved too much for audiences at the time which may account for why the film is seldom revived now. An acquired taste then, but essential viewing for anyone interested in the art of acting.

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Release Date:

8 February 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Heart of the Matter See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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