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Sapphire (1959)

Sapphire (1959)

Nigel PatrickYvonne MitchellMichael CraigPaul Massie
Basil Dearden


Sapphire (1959) is a English movie. Basil Dearden has directed this movie. Nigel Patrick,Yvonne Mitchell,Michael Craig,Paul Massie are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1959. Sapphire (1959) is considered one of the best Crime,Drama,Mystery,Thriller movie in India and around the world.

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.

Sapphire (1959) Reviews

  • serious race issues discussed honestly


    I was amazed by the shocking brutality of the racism in this film. In America, we are rarely presented with such casual racism; in films of the 50s, race is practically never dealt with in films, as Todd Haynes "remake" of Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows tries to make up for. And current films about the 50s present such two dimensional characters that it is easy to tell the racist villains from the open-minded heroes. In Sapphire, filmed in Britain in the 1950s, one of the most interesting characters is Michael Craig's detective, supposedly our hero, but constantly making racist remarks. His comments are always countered by the more reasonable older inspector, but this allows his gradual transformation throughout the film. Although some of the film is a bit heavy-handed, ultimately the message is sadly still relevant. 4 out of 5.

  • Bold For Its Time


    When a young woman's body is discovered on London's Hampstead Heath, the ensuing investigation quickly focuses on racial bigotry and hatred in 1950s Britain, exposing the prejudice amongst those under investigation AND those investigating. Like so many other films from the 1940s and 1950s, Sapphire is yet another piece of groundbreaking British cinema now long forgotten. A little clunky and overly reliant on stereotyping by today's standards, but still a fascinating exploration of the fears and struggles inherent in a newly mixed-race society. Dearden has brought together an interesting cast here, cleverly giving matinée idol Craig a fairly unsympathetic role as a racist police officer, and being superbly served by Mitchell - her final scene is at once both compelling and distressing. Too many British cinema actors of the 40's and 50's have now been forgotten, and Mitchell is a prime example of why individual and collective reappraisals and retrospectives are long overdue. Interesting companion piece to 1961's Flame In The Streets, then, and definitely worth catching if you can.

  • superb intelligent thriller


    this is one of the most underappreciated films of all times. it is a superbly acted and directed film with a very intelligent and well crafted screenplay. the "twist" is revealed just at the right moment and is not played for any exploitative reason but still resonates throughout the course of the film. i have the video of this film, which is not listed anywhere and just got the poster, that is how much i love this film. if you are looking for a stupid bang bang movie don't bother, if you're looking for a goofy feel good movie, go elsewhere, but if you appreciate well-crafted film making this is your movie.

  • Explosive drama about racial hatred


    British cinema in the 50s saw an explosion of realistic "kitchen sink" dramas that tried to explore the problems the post war generation faced. "Cosh Boy" (1952) dealt with kids running wild, "Violent Playground" (1957) with juvenile delinquency and the problems associated with high rise housing estates. Even though Janet Green's list of screenplay credits are short, each of them can take their place among the best British films of the 50s and 60s (except "Midnight Lace"). They usually featured strong story lines, often about minorities ("Life for Ruth", also with Michael Craig dealt with Jehovah's Witnesses, "Victim" was about homosexuality). "Sapphire" must have caused a sensation when it was first released. It deals with racism in all forms, white against black, black against black (one of Sapphire's former boyfriends says "My father would never allow me to marry Sapphire - she is only half black!!!"). The film begins with the startling discovery of the body of a young arts student. When her brother comes down to identify the body, Sup. Hazard (Nigel Patrick) realises that Sapphire is black!!! From then on Hazard encounters racism at every turning. His partner (Michael Craig) says "these spades should be sent home to their own country". The landlady, is very protective of Sapphire but when she learns of the girl's heritage she is horrified. Sapphire's friend then gives the landlady a piece of her mind but when the landlady retorts with "When you introduced Sapphire to your parents - did you tell them she was coloured" there is silence. "Well I am not the only one who is racist" - that is extremely true in this film. Sapphire is pregnant (something else that would have shocked 50s audiences) and engaged to David (Paul Massie) whose family is a caulderon of racial tension. The mother is nice, the father (Bernard Miles) is an racist and the daughter, as a constable says "she's her father all over again". David is introverted and under the father's thumb. Yvonne Mitchell is riveting as Mildred, whose bottled up racism explodes in a scene that catches everyone by surprise (maybe not Sup. Hazard). She is married to a merchant seaman and has twin daughters, who she is very ambitious for. She is very jealous of the love she perceives Sapphire and David have for each other. Unfortunately, Sapphire is "passing for white" so the happiness is not going to last. Highly recommended.

  • In which Mr Michael Craig confronts the Myth of Black Sexuality


    A very brave movie shot barely a year after the quite shocking interracial violence in Notting Hill,"Sapphire" gives a true picture of the prejudices and ignorance on both sides of the racial divide. The casual racism of both communities may be horrific to 21st century audiences.The very fact that the cinema was allowed to portray such attitudes graphically illustrates how much freedom was given to art in the so - called "repressed" 1950s,in contrast to how proscribed it has become in this the first decade of these "enlightened" times. As usual,the police - merely of course a microcosm of society - get some stick for reflecting the views of the community they come from. Sapphire is a pale - skinned West Indian girl "Passing for white",or a "Lilyskin" as she is referred to in this film. Nowadays the term "Coconut" might be used in an equally abusive sense.The film begins with the the discovery of her body.The police are convinced that the solution to her murder lies within the black community,and,once this idea has taken root,are unable to see the case in any other light,adopting a kind of tunnel vision where they tailor the facts to fit their theories, a situation that prevails in many investigations to this day and has - in the past - led to several miscarriages of justice.Fortunately they do eventually switch tack and find the murderer amongst Sapphire's white fiancé's family. Mr M.Craig proved in this and the later "Life for Ruth",that he was a lot more than a lightweight second - string.He keeps a lid on his more overt racism under the more sophisticated eye of his superior(the versatile Mr N.Patrick) who moves carefully between the outraged blacks and the outraged whites,well aware of the tightrope he is walking. At the core of the film is the perceived suspicion of the whites at the myth of Black Sexuality.Hands may now be raised in horror that such stereotypical beliefs but it would be idle to deny their existence. Many years ago when I was in the Met I had ,as a partner,a very sharp and beautiful black woman.One night - one of many spent de - stressing in an East London pub - I,rather the worst I fear,for drink,pushed a fifth or sixth vodka in front of her and ventured,"Well Marlene,what do you think about The Myth of Black Sexuality?"She fixed me with a sardonic eye and said straight - faced,"What myth?". So it would appear to be a matter of embarrassment to some and pride to others . It certainly caused the unfortunate Sapphire to be murdered,and nearly half a century later,is still the cause of discomfort and suspicion between the races.The only difference in that respect between now and 1959 is that debate on the matter is not encouraged.


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