The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter ★★★★

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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