Sapphire is a 1959 British crime drama. It focuses on racism in London toward immigrants from the West Indies and explores the "underlying insecurities and fears of ordinary people" that exist towards another race. The film was directed by Basil Dearden and stars Nigel Patrick, Earl Cameron and Yvonne Mitchell. It received the BAFTA Award for Best Film and screenwriter Janet Green won a 1960 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Foreign Film Screenplay. It was considered a progressive movie for its time.
UK release poster
|Directed by||Basil Dearden|
|Produced by||Michael Relph|
Earl St. John (executive producer)
|Written by||Janet Green|
|Music by||Philip Green|
|Edited by||John D. Guthridge|
Earl Cameron, who played the part of Sapphire's brother, would appear two years later in another English film dealing with racial issues, the 1961 film Flame in the Streets.
The body of a young woman is found stabbed on Hampstead Heath. Although appearing to be white, when her brother (Earl Cameron) arrives at the police station to give evidence, the officers see that he is black and that she must be mixed-race too. Her brother confirms that they were the children of a white father and a black mother, but Sapphire has recently been passing for white. Sapphire's white boyfriend, a student, immediately becomes the chief suspect. He is followed by plain clothes police and seen acting suspiciously around the crime-scene. The discovery in the police post mortem that Sapphire was 3 months pregnant is an added complication. As the investigation proceeds other, surprisingly colourful aspects of Sapphire's social life bring further suspects to light.
- Nigel Patrick as Superintendent Robert Hazard
- Yvonne Mitchell as Mildred
- Michael Craig as Inspector Phil Learoyd
- Paul Massie as David Harris
- Bernard Miles as Ted Harris
- Olga Lindo as Mrs. Harris
- Earl Cameron as Dr. Robbins
- Gordon Heath as Paul Slade
- Jocelyn Britton as Patsy
- Harry Baird as Johnnie Fiddle
- Orlando Martins as Barman
- Rupert Davies as P.C. Jack Ferris
- Freda Bamford as Sergeant Cook
- Robert Adams as Horace Big Cigar
- Yvonne Buckingham as Sapphire Robbins
- Vanda Hudson as Blonde Girl at Tulip's Club (uncredited)
- Philip Lowrie as Student (uncredited)
- Boscoe Holder as Dancer in Nightclub (uncredited)
- Basil Dignam as Doctor Burgess (uncredited)
- Fenella Fielding as Lingerie Shop Manageress (uncredited)
- Lloyd Reckord as pianist in the International Club (uncredited)
- Peter Vaughan as Detective Whitehead (uncredited)
- Victor Brooks as Police Sergeant (uncredited)
- Desmond Llewelyn as Policeman (uncredited)
- Barbara Steele as girl in the pub (uncredited)
The New York Times wrote, "If "Sapphire" is not entirely in a class by itself, the combination of murder mystery and racial issues puts it several interesting cuts above standard movie melodrama."
In April 1959, Panther Books of London issued a screenplay novelisation by prolific mystery and thriller novelist E.G. Cousins.
- Sapphire on IMDb
- Sapphire at Rotten Tomatoes
- A. H. Weiler, "The Screen: 'Sapphire'; British Crime Story Opens at Sutton" (review), The New York Times, 3 November 1959.