40 user 19 critic

Sapphire (1959)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 2 November 1959 (USA)
The murder of a young woman in London exposes deep racial tensions and prejudices inherent in the area.


Basil Dearden


Janet Green (original screenplay), Lukas Heller (additional dialogue)
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Nigel Patrick ... Chief Inspector Hazard
Yvonne Mitchell ... Mildred Farr
Michael Craig ... Police Inspector Learoyd
Paul Massie ... David Harris
Bernard Miles ... Mr. Ted Harris
Olga Lindo ... Mrs. Ted Harris
Earl Cameron ... Dr. Robbins
Gordon Heath Gordon Heath ... Paul Slade
Jocelyn Britton Jocelyn Britton ... Patsy
Harry Baird ... Johnnie Fiddle
Orlando Martins ... Tulip Barman
Rupert Davies ... Ferris
Freda Bamford ... Police Sgt. Cook
Robert Adams Robert Adams ... Horace Big Cigar
Yvonne Buckingham ... Sapphire Robbins


In 1950s London racial hostility to Commonweath immigrants is openly paraded. A pregnant girl, initially assumed to be white, is murdered. As two detectives start to investigate, and discover her racial origins were much more mixed, public prejudices and those of the officers themselves are exposed. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Down a path of emotion and hate from dim-lit jazz pads to "respectable" homes she sought the thrill of forbidden love! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Dirk Bogarde was asked to play Learoyd. See more »


The ripped photo used as a clue appears in two versions from the first time it's discovered. The first version shows Sapphire laughing as she dances, with her mouth open. The second shows her smiling broadly with her jaw closed. It's quite an odd, unnecessary blunder in a police procedural. See more »


Dr. Robbins: There's no assurance for me and my kind, Superintendent. I've been black for 38 years, I know. She may have looked white, but Sapphire was colored.
Superintendent Robert Hazard: Your sister was murdered. We'll find out who killed her.
Dr. Robbins: I'm sure that is your intention.
Superintendent Robert Hazard: It is my intention. It's also my job.
See more »


Featured in Hollywood U.K.: A Very British Picture (1993) See more »


Music by Philip Green
Lyrics by Sonny Miller
Sung by Jimmy Lloyd (I)'
See more »

User Reviews

Needs Re-Discovery
8 January 2018 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

So who killed Sapphire. That's the movie's plot; however, the underlying theme is racial prejudice, a generally touchy topic at the time, even for British films. As I recall, the movie got more coverage than usual for a foreign release, at least in the LA area. The lovely Sapphire may look White, but genetically she's half-Black. Her troubles start when she "passes for White" in a London society still riven by prejudice. Engaged to the son of a reputable White family, her racial make-up causes rifts within the circle once her heritage is known. Naturally, the suspects start off with the family of her intended.

The twin threads of race and murder are skillfully woven into a difficult screenplay that nevertheless compels attention from start to finish. Credit a highly efficient performance from Nigel Patrick for holding together the disparate elements as his chief investigator works his way through London's many precincts. I like the way the screenplay portrays levels of racial dislike from both Whites and Blacks without getting too judgmental. Also, it looks like the exteriors were shot on location without any prettifying. Some of the neighborhoods in fact amount to about the last word in urban decay. Happily, director Deardon keeps things moving in unobtrusive fashion right down to the rather surprising finish. Anyway, the 90-some minutes amount to a topically compelling package that deserved its initial hoopla and still does.

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Release Date:

2 November 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sapphire See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Artna Films Ltd. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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