The November choice is the film version of John Patrick's play The Hasty Heart directed by Vincent Sherman in 1949. The Hasty Heart is set at a convalescent hospital in the jungles of Burma at the end of WW2. The few remaining men are awaiting the unraveling of red tape of the healing of injuries before they are to be sent home.
Richard Todd, Ronald Reagan
Young Scot Corporal Lachlan, known as "Lachey", won't be going home. The doctors prognosis is "no hope" and they ask nurse or, as the Brits say, "Sister" Margaret Parker played by Patricia Neal and the men in her ward to keep the tragic news from the young man and make is last days happy. Most of the men are uncomfortable with being placed in this spot, but agree. The most vocal opponent is Sister Margaret's sweetheart "Yank" played by Ronald Reagan. He is quite eloquent when describing his feelings about the Scots in general and his hidebound grandfather in particular. Lachey does nothing to dispel Yank's misgivings. The young corporal is an embittered loner who trusts no one. It is at Sister Margaret's urging that the pretense is kept up.
Patricia Neal, Richard Todd
Very slowly and painfully Lachey opens up to the people around him. He even falls in love with Sister Margaret, which complicates things for everyone. Eventually the feelings of friendship among the group deepen and, ironically, at a time when lies might make things easier they become harder to tell because genuine feelings require honestly. Honesty is also a military order when the Colonel must tell Lachy of his fate and send him home. A heart can break very quickly, but can it heal as easily when precious time is almost gone? The Hasty Heart is an emotional movie and a worthy one. The entire ensemble brings their best to the script with Richard Todd giving an outstanding performance, as evidenced by his Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Author John Patrick (1905-1995) was born in Kentucky. He began working for radio in the 1920s writing over 1000 comedy scripts and Streamlined Shakespeare for NBC. His early work in Hollywood was a mix of crime dramas such as Mr. Moto Takes a Chance and comedies like the prison send-up Up the River.
In 1942 John Patrick began volunteer service for the American Field Service providing medical support for the British Arm serving in Egypt and the India/Burma campaigns. His experience formed the idea for his play The Hasty Heart which had over 200 performances in the 1945 Broadway season. Ranald MacDougall (Mildred Pierce) adapted the screenplay and was nominated by the Writer's Guild of America for Best Written American Drama.
Set your recorders because TCM is showing The Hasty Heart on Friday, November 18th at 12:15 am.