AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Hasty Heart
Director: Vincent Sherman (Dir)
Release Date:   1950
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 20 Jan 1950.
Production Date:   Began Dec 1948 at Elstree Studios, England
Duration (in mins):   99, 102 or 105
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Cast:   Ronald Reagan (The Yank)  
    Patricia Neal (Sister Margaret Parker)  
    Richard Todd (The Scot, "Lachie" McLachlen)  
    Anthony Nichols (Colonel Dunn)  
    Howard Crawford (The Englishman, "Tommy")  
    Ralph Michael (The New Zealander, "Kiwi")  
    John Sherman (The Australian, "Digger")  
    Alfred Bass (The Orderly)  
    Orland Martins (The African, "Blossom")  

Summary: At a Red Cross hospital in Burma in 1945, five patients remain after the rest are sent home at the end of the war. These five--"Yank", an American; "Blossom," a Basuto African who speaks no English; "Digger," an Australian; "Tommy," an Englishman; and "Kiwi" from New Zealand--are told by Colonel Dunn that they will be joined by "Lachie" McLachlen, a Scot. Before he arrives, the soldiers are informed that he only has one kidney and will soon die of uremic poisoning. The colonel asks the others to befriend Lachie and keep him contented. The men agree, but when Lachie arrives, he gruffly rebuffs the men's efforts to be friendly. Yank is of Scottish descent, although he hated his Scottish grandfather, and Sister Margaret Parker, the hospital's Canadian nurse, taught in Scotland, but their connections to Scotland do not endear them to Lachie. When Margaret learns that Lachie has invested his money in a farm that he intends to work when he returns to Scotland, she unsuccessfully tries to convince him to use some of that money to buy a regimental kilt, something he was too thrifty to buy in the past. That night, as the men are about to go to sleep, Lachie starts to play his bagpipes. Blossom, who speaks no English, then sings an African song. At mail call, Lachie explains his lack of mail by saying that paper and stamps are too expensive to use for something as prosaic as letters. He continues to be suspicious of all who attempt to make friends with him, and when Margaret offers to do things for him, he warns her that he has no plans to marry. Privately, Margaret tells the others that Lachie was an illegitimate child and has had a hard life. On Lachie's twenty- fourth birthday, Margaret plans a party. She has bought him a regimental kilt, and the men all contribute other items of the uniform. Lachie's hard heart is moved by the gifts, but he is worried that he will not be able to return their kindness. That night Lachie tells Margaret that he is sorry that he miscalculated the human race and decides to share his farm with the other men. She responds by advising him to share himself with them instead. The next day, Lachie dresses up in his new kilt and the men try very hard, but without success, to discover whether Scottish men wear anything underneath them. Later, Lachie confesses to Yank that he is in love with Margaret and intends to propose. When he does, Margaret accepts to make him happy. Later, the doctor tells Lachie that he can go home immediately if he wants. Lachie demands to know why he is so lucky and finally learns that he is going to die. He then believes that Margaret and the other men have been nice to him only because he is dying and decides to return to Scotland to live out the rest of his life alone. He returns the uniform and kilt and orders the men to keep away from him. Just before he leaves, Blossom offers him a present, and Lachie coldly rejects it. Furious, Yank explains that Blossom does not speak English and therefore could not have known that Lachie was dying. In the face of this evidence of real caring, Lachie breaks down. He admits that he does not want to die alone and begs to be allowed to stay. Taking back the uniform, he once again dresses up, and Tommy finally discovers what Scottish men wear under their kilts. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Brand Name: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Vincent Sherman (Dir)
Producer: Alex Boyd (Prod)
Writer: Ranald MacDougall (Scr)
Photography: Wilkie Cooper (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Terence Verity (Art dir)
Film Editor: E. B. Jarvis (Film ed)
Costumes: Peggy Henderson (Ward)
Music: Jack Beaver (Mus)
  Louis Levy (Mus dir)
Sound: Harold V. King (Sd)
Country: Great Britain and United States

Source Text: Based on the play The Hasty Heart by John Patrick, as produced by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse (New York, 3 Jan 1945).
Authors: Russel Crouse
  Howard Lindsay
  John Patrick

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 14/1/1950 dd/mm/yyyy LP2929

PCA NO: 13890
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Postwar life
 
Subjects (Major): Death and dying
  Friendship
  Hospitals
  Nurses
  Scots
  Soldiers
 
Subjects (Minor): Africans
  Australians
  Bagpipes
  Birthdays
  Burma
  Canadians
  English
  Illegitimacy
  Kilts
  New Zealanders
  Physicians
  Proposals (Marital)
  Red Cross
  Scottish Americans
  Uniforms
  World War II

Note: According to an article in NYDN about the Broadway production of John Patrick's play, the character of "Lachie" was based on a real soldier whom Patrick knew in Burma (now Myanmar). The same article stated that the film's title came from an old Scottish proverb: "They say that sorrow is born in the hasty heart," but according to a 4 Dec 1949 NYT article, Patrick admitted that he had invented this "adage." In Feb 1945, a LAEx news item reported that M-G-M was buying the play, and that Robert Montgomery was being considered for the role of "Lachie." According to a 29 Feb 1945 press release, John Dall was to play "Lachie" and Dennis Morgan was to play "Yank." This film marked the first starring performance by British actor Richard Todd (1919--2009) and earned him an Academy Award nomination. The picture was named one of 1949's ten best films by The Tidings , the official Catholic publication of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
       The Hasty Heart was adapted for television three times following the film's release. It was broadcast on Broadway Television Theatre on 2 Nov 1953, starring John Dall and Hurd Hatfield, and on CBS-TV's Dupont Show of the Month on 22 Dec 1958, with Don Murray and Jackie Cooper. On 12 Sep 1983, the Showtime cable network aired a television version of the 1982 Los Angeles stage production of The Hasty Heart , starring Gregory Harrison and Cheryl Ladd. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Hollywood Reporter   19 Feb 1945.   
Hollywood Reporter   4 Feb 49   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Dec 49   p. 1.
Los Angeles Examiner   3 Feb 1945.   
New York Daily News   3 May 1946.   
New York Times   4 Dec 1945.   
New York Times   21 Jan 50   p. 10.
Variety   7 Dec 49   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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