Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Patricia Neal and Richard Todd
THE HASTY HEART (1949). Director: Vincent Sherman.

In Burma at the very end of WW2, a Scots soldier named Lachie (Richard Todd) is shot in the kidney. That one kidney is destroyed and the other is defective, meaning he only has a short time to live. In the hospital, the other patients are told to make what time he has left as convivial as possible, but it won't be easy because Lachie has a massive chip on his shoulder and is extremely unpleasant. But can they and the sympathetic nurse, Sister Parker (Patricia Neal), be able to get through to the man? Based on a play by John Patrick, The Hasty Heart presents a sad and intriguing situation and makes the most of it, bolstered by an outstanding lead performance from Richard Todd [Lightning Strikes Twice]. Patricia Neal is lovely in the movie, and there are also fine jobs from Ronald Reagan [Bedtime for Bonzo] as the American, and  from Ralph Michael, Howard Marion-Crawford, and John Sherman as the other patients in the ward. Orlando Martins is given the thankless role of the near-silent tribesman, Blossom, but he, too, is effective. An amusing if odd sub-plot has to do with the fellows trying to find out if Lachie wears anything under his kilt -- their attempts to peek underneath it get a little obsessive at times. Todd's best scene is his reaction when he learns the truth about his medical condition, but, while he's perhaps a bit older than the character, he is on top of his game throughout. Todd played the role on Broadway after Richard Basehart left the cast. Aside from Neal and Reagan, the supporting characters aren't that well developed, and in truth, we don't learn all that much about those two, either. But somehow it doesn't matter, as the film is completely absorbing and deeply moving. This was remade as a telefilm with Gregory Harrison and Cheryl Ladd (!) and it gets a higher rating on than the original, but I can't imagine it's better than this. Vincent Sherman also directed The Damned Don't Cry and many, many others.

Verdict: When dramas were dramas and not sitcoms. ***1/2 out of 4.


angelman66 said...

John Patrick was a friend and mentor of mine...and we mounted many of his plays at the professional regional theater I worked for in the 1990s...including The Hasty Heart, which I think is Patrick's best work. And this film adaptation is really wonderful, Neal and Richard Todd are exceptional, and even President Reagan does a great job!

John Patrick told me so many surprising stories about his years in the theater and in Hollywood...he was close with Brando, Grace Kelly, Cloris Leachman, Vivian Vance, and countless others. I spent many an hour in his Japanese-style home in Boca Raton, very Teahouse of the August Moon, of course!

Need to see this again.
- Chris

William said...

Did John Patrick ever write his memoirs -- bet he had a lot of great stories to tell, and it's wonderful that you got to hear them from the man himself. I admit I don't know much about Patrick, but he certainly wrote a memorable play with "Hasty Heart." Did you act for the regional theater or were you more on the production end? (Always wish I had been involved in theater more.)

angelman66 said...

I'm a playwright and director, but yes, have acted many times over the years as well. It is still a passion even though I have not been involved in anything in several years....

Patrick did not write his memoirs, he suffered from depression in his later years. Did live into his 90s, though...
- C