Astonished Heart, The (Gainsborough 1949, Celia Johnson, Noel Coward)

Astonished Heart

Based on a short play by Noel Coward The Astonished Heart is an intriguing story of a psychiatrist Christian Faber (NOEL COWARD) who becomes infatuated with a patient Leonora (MARGARET LEIGHTON) a girl who knows how to enjoy herself, unlike his wife (CELIA JOHNSON) who, despite her devotion to him, is distinctly sexless.

Torn by his desires – the desire to reconcile a 10 year-old marriage seemingly at the end of its life and wracked with jealousy for the wandering Leonora with his life in turmoil, the result is self-destruction providing a powerful assault on the prevailing morality and self-censorship of British cinema in the post-war period. The ending still has the power to surprise and Coward’s bitter brittle view of the world is never better with the added benefit of a score from him as well.

UK / Gainsborough – Sydney Box / 89 minutes / 1949 black and white

Writer and Music: Noel Coward / Cinematography: Jack Asher / Producer: Antony Darnborough / Directors: Terence Fisher, Anthony Darnborough

Cast: Celia Johnson, Noel Coward, Margaret Leighton, Joyce Carey