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The Spanish Gardener (1956, )



Adapted from AJ Cronin’s novel, this is the story of a minor diplomat, played with admirable restraint by Michael Horden, who becomes increasingly jealous of the relationship that develops between his son (Jon Whiteley), who he perceives as a delicate and easily damaged child, and the Spanish gardener (Dirk Bogarde) hired for the estate. Hordern’s diplomat is separated from his wife and is continually passed over for promotion. The child is lonely and desperately seeking companionship. When he becomes friendly with the gardener, Hordern embarks on a campaign to wreck their friendship.

With colourful Spanish backgrounds, atmospheric and acclaimed music from composer John Veale (who at the time was working as an editor at the Oxford University Press) and wonderfully studied supporting roles for fine actors – particularly Cyril Cusack as a shady manservant and Maureen Swanson as Bogarde’s girlfriend – the film develops a sense of friendship and rebellion at a leisurely and absorbing pace.

production details
UK | 97 minutes | 1956

Director: Philip Leacock
Writer: Lesley Storm and John Bryan, from the AJ Cronin novel

Michael Hordern as Harrington Brande
Dirk Bogarde as Jose
Jon Whiteley as Nicholas
Cyril Cusack as Garcia
Geoffrey Keen as Dr Harvey
Maureen Swanson as Maria
Lyndon Brook as Robert Burton
Josephine Griffin as Carol Burton
Bernard Lee as Leighton Bailey