Rent Sapphire (1959)

3.7 of 5 from 62 ratings
1h 32min
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Scotland Yard are investigating the murder of a beautiful young woman found stabbed on Hampstead Heath. Superintendent Hazard (Nigel Patrick) and Inspector Learoyd (Michael Craig) lead the investigation and quickly discover that Sapphire (Yvonne Buckingham) had been leading a double life, her light coloured skin allowing her to pass for white when in fact she was black. The police discover a motive for the murder when they discover that Sapphire was pregnant by her white boyfriend David Harris (Paul Massie), a fellow student. Police enquiries lead them on a manhunt through both the black and white communities in London where they encounter distrust and racial prejudice.
Whilst the chilling climax to this tense thriller illustrates how racial prejudice can tear apart even the most loving of families.
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Michael Relph
Janet Green, Lukas Heller
Spirit Entertainment Ltd
British Films, Classics, Drama, Thrillers

1960 BAFTA Best British Film

Release Date:
Run Time:
92 minutes
DVD Regions:
Region 0 (All)
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.35:1
Release Date:
Not released
Run Time:
95 minutes

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Reviews (1) of Sapphire

Crime film plus. - Sapphire review by Steve Mason

Spoiler Alert

Hard to believe a film critiquing the racism in 1950s London could hit so relatively few bum notes when viewed from 2020. Dearden and scriptwriter Janet Green teamed up for a pair of films about prejudice and social injustice in this period (Victim, 1961). Sapphire is a black woman who has been 'passing for white' in a London where being black imposes so many impediments, which this film goes on to expose. When she is found dead on Hampstead Heath, a traditional police procedural drama is set in motion, with racial hatred the likely motive for the killing. The cast is superb, especially Nigel Patrick as the liberal police inspector, Earl Cameron as a GP and the victim's more obviously black brother, and the always excellent Yvonne Mitchell as a lonely mother consumed by anger and resentment. The camera work is fluid and dynamic and for a message film, it is hugely entertaining. Anyone determined to look for dated attitudes to race will inevitably find them. But the heart of this film is huge compassion for the bigotry and poverty suffered by so many of the Windrush generation on arriving in the UK.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.