Cast & Crew
In 1946 Lisa Held, a survivor of the concentration camp at Auschwitz, falls into the hands of ex-Nazi Thorens, who promises to smuggle her into Palestine; actually he is a white slaver who plans to ship her to South America. She is saved when Dutch policeman Peter Jongman, who is plagued by his failure to save his fiancée from death at the hands of the Nazis, accidentally kills Thorens. Jongman then decides to atone for the past by seeing that Lisa reaches Palestine. He gets them both work on a Dutch barge owned by Captain Brandt, who takes them to Tangiers. There, a flamboyant smuggler, Van der Pink, arranges passage for them to Palestine. During Lisa's medical examination, Peter discovers that the Nazis had used her for surgical experimentation, a series of operations which have made her incapable of being a wife or mother. Peter also learns that he is wanted back in London for questioning about the death of Thorens. Since he knows the British are planning to block Lisa's illegal entry into Palestine, he makes a deal with one of their agents: if Lisa is allowed to enter the country, he will surrender himself to the British police. Once he has accomplished his mission and Lisa is delivered into the hands of the Haganah, Peter leaves to keep his rendezvous with the British authorities.
Jane Jordan Rogers
J. B. Smith
Director Philip Dunne was better known as an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, responsible for scripting How Green Was My Valley (1941), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), but he had been a successful director in his own right since making Prince of Players in 1955. He had attempted to option the novel for himself but lost out to Mark Robson, then gladly accepted the assignment when Robson decided to produce the picture and offered the director's chair to Dunne.
Irish-born leading Stephen Boyd, who had rocketed to fame after playing Messala opposite Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur (1959), was cast as Inspector Peter Jongman. American actress Dolores Hart had made her film debut opposite Elvis Presley in Loving You (1957) and her Broadway debut a couple of years later in The Pleasure of Your Company, where she earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress. The supporting cast features the cream of the crop of Britain's character actors: Leo McKern (as the flinty barge Captain), Hugh Griffith (a craggy Dutch smuggler in Morocco), Donald Pleasence (Jongman's sympathetic partner), Harry Andrews, Robert Stephens, Marius Goring, and Finlay Currie.
To prepare for the role of a concentration camp survivor, Hart met with a real life Auschwitz survivor, a Hungarian immigrant in Los Angeles named Suzanne Zada, who recalled her meeting with the actress: "Dolores rose and said 'I think you should slap my face.' I stood stunned as she explained, 'I don't know why we thought we could ask you to relive your suffering just so we can make a movie. I apologize.' I was totally overwhelmed by the fact that she should be that sensitive, but when she said that, I suddenly knew that I wanted to share with her because I knew my help would allow this sensitive woman to get it right." Hart's recollection is just as powerful: "At that moment, the film became a personal crusade. I wanted to be able to show Suzanne I really did understand how deeply she was hurt."
Robson arranged for the production to be shot on location in Holland and other European locations, with studio scenes shot in MGM's British studio located outside of London. It was a "happy assignment," Dunne recalled in his autobiography, though not without challenges. Much of the film was shot on barges in the Dutch canals or on boats at sea. Hart and Boyd were constantly queasy while shooting on the water and Dunne refused them seasickness pills, afraid the side effects would affect their performances. The production shot the scenes of the coast of Palestine in Swansea, Wales rather than travel to Israel, and the company had to wait out two weeks of storms that grew so fierce that the British authorities had to close the ports. Hart called Swansea "the sinkhole of Great Britain" and recalled that one storm was so bad that the camera boat was washed away.
"It wasn't the acting of the role that affected me so deeply," recalled Hart in her memoir. "It was the humanity of it, the undeniable sense of life I found in the character. I felt more motivated to visit Regina Landis after Lisa was over." It turned out to be one of the final films that Miss Hart made before she gave up show business to enter the Benedictine Regina Laudis Monastery in Bethlehem, Connecticut. She is now Reverend Mother Dolores Hart, prioress of the abbey and the only nun who is an active voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
By Sean Axmaker
Take Two: A Life in Movies and Politics, Philip Dunne. McGraw-Hill, 1980.
The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows, Mother Dolores Hart. O.S.B. and Richard DeNeut. Ignatius Press, 2013.
TCM Remembers - Leo McKern
TCM REMEMBERS LEO MCKERN, 1920-2002
The recent death of Leo McKern, 82, marked the passing of one of Britain's finest and most respected character actors. He was suffering from ill health in recent years and was moved to a nursing home a few weeks before his death on July 23 2002 in Bath, England. An actor of commanding presence with a deep-throated voice, the portly, bulbous-nosed McKern had a long, distinguished career spanning more than half a century, earning numerous plaudits along the way in all major mediums: theatre, film and television.
Born Reginald McKern on March 16, 1920 in Sydney, Australia; he served with the Australian Army during World War II and worked in regional theatre in his native Sydney before immigrating to England in 1946. It was a slow start, but after a three-year apprenticeship of painting scenery, stage-managing and acting, McKern eventually joined the celebrated Old Vic theatrical company in 1949 and proved one of the more versatile actors in the troupe tackling diverse roles in comedy, the classics and serious contemporary parts.
His film debut came in Murder in the Cathedral (1952) but it took a few years before he made his mark in cinema. Some of his best film work included roles as Peter Sellers' comic henchman in the classic satire The Mouse That Roared (1959); a bungling train robber in the charming Disney film The Horse Without a Head (1963); a nefarious professor who kills off his colleagues for amusement in the brilliant black comedy A Jolly Bad Fellow (1964); Clang, a cartoonish villain in the Beatles' pop film Help! (1965); Cromwell, the persecutor of Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons (1966) and as Thomas Ryan in the David Lean drama, Ryan's Daughter (1970).
Yet despite all the accolades McKern earned in theatre and films, it was television where he foundinternational fame as the wily, irascible barrister Horace P. Rumpole in John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey in 1975. Infusing the character with beguiling skill and energy, McKern made the acerbic, wine swilling, Tennyson-quoting Rumpole a much loved figure that was adored by critics, audiences and even its creator Mortimer. Perhaps Mortimer offered the most fitting tribute when he once referred to McKern - "His acting exists where I always hope my writing will be: about two feet above the ground, a little larger than life, but always taking off from reality." Enough said.
By Michael T. Toole
KATY JURADO, 1924 - 2002
Katy Jurado, an Oscar nominee and major actress in Westerns, died July 5th at the age of 78. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico on January 16th 1924 as Maria Cristina Estella Marcela Jurado Garcia, daughter of a cattle rancher and an opera singer. Jurado started to appear in Mexican films in 1943. After 15 films in her native country, director Budd Boetticher saw Jurado attending a bullfight (Jurado wrote about the subject for Mexican newspapers) and cast her in his Bullfighter and the Lady (1952), her Hollywood debut. For much of her career Jurado alternated between the two film industries. In the US, she was memorable for the sensual energy she brought to roles in High Noon (1952), One-Eyed Jacks (1961) which was directed by Marlon Brando, Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and John Huston's Under the Volcano (1984). She was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for Broken Lance (1954). Jurado's Mexican films were in a broader range of genres and included Luis Bunuel's El Bruto (1952), Ismael Rodriguez's We the Poor and Miguel Littin's The Widow Montiel (1979). She won three Ariel Awards (Mexican equivalent to the Oscars) and one special award. She was married to Ernest Borgnine from the end of 1959 to summer 1963. One of her final films was The Hi-Lo Country (1998), a contemporary Western directed by Stephen Frears and co-starring Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup and Penelope Cruz.
by Lang Thompson
DOLORES GRAY, 1924 - 2002
Broadway and nightclub star Dolores Gray died June 26th at the age of 78. Her movie career was brief but consisted of high-profile MGM musicals which guaranteed her a place in film history. Gray was born in Chicago on June 7th, 1924 (and where, according to a common story, she was accidentally shot by a gangster as a child and had a bullet in her lung her entire life). As a teenager she began singing in California until Rudy Vallee featured her on his radio show. Gray moved to Broadway in 1944 and then to the London stage in 1947, solidifying her reputation as a singer/actress while constantly giving the gossip columnists plenty to write about. She had two small singing roles in Lady for a Night (1941) and Mr. Skeffington (1944) but didn't really light up the big screen until It's Always Fair Weather (1955) even though Gray reportedly didn't much care for the role. Her rendition of "Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks," which has her gunning down a slew of male dancers on-stage and kicking them through trap doors, is a genuine showstopper. Three more unforgettable musical roles quickly followed: Kismet (1955), The Opposite Sex (1956, which Gray turned down Funny Face to do) and Designing Women (1957). That was it for Gray's film career. She kept busy with TV appearances (mostly singing though she did one 1988 episode of the cult show Dr. Who) and a busy recording and nightclub schedule. In 1987, she appeared in a British production of Follies at Stephen Sondheim's request.
by Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - Leo McKern
Location scenes filmed in Amsterdam, London, Tangiers, and Israel. Opened in London in June 1962 as The Inspector.
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1962
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1962