So Little Time (film)

So Little Time is a 1952 British World War II romance drama directed by Compton Bennett and starring Marius Goring, Maria Schell and Lucie Mannheim.

So Little Time
German DVD cover
Directed byCompton Bennett
Produced byAubrey Baring
Maxwell Setton
Written byNoelle Henry (novel)
John Cresswell
StarringMarius Goring
Maria Schell
Lucie Mannheim
Music byLouis Levy
CinematographyOswald Morris
Edited byVladimir Sagovsky
Distributed byAssociated British Picture Corporation
Release date
March 1952
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£91,096 (UK)[1]

The film is based on the novel Je ne suis pas une héroïne by French author Noelle Henry. So Little Time is unusual for its time in portraying its German characters in a mainly sympathetic manner, while the Belgian Resistance characters are depicted in an aggressive, almost gangster-type light. So soon after the war, this was not a narrative viewpoint British audiences and critics expected in a British film and there was considerable protest about the film's content.[2]

The film was made at Elstree Studios with sets designed by Edward Carrick. Filmed during 1951, it was released in March 1952.


In occupied Belgium during World War II, the chateau where Nicole de Malvines (Schell) lives with her mother (Gabrielle Dorziat) is partially requisitioned for use by German forces. Among those billeted there is Colonel Hohensee (Goring), a ruthlessly efficient officer. Having lost several male members of her family in the war, the proud and outspoken Nicole holds the Germans in contempt and has no hesitation in making her feelings clear.

Nicole and Hohensee discover a mutual love of music, particularly the piano. This gradually brings them together and despite their differences and the inherent danger of the situation to both, they fall in love; they begin travelling to Brussels to attend concerts and recitals, acutely aware of the need to be discreet and the risks involved in being seen socialising with one another. Matters become more complicated when members of the Belgian Resistance target Nicole to steal documentation from Hohensee to pass over to them, making clear that non-cooperation is not an option.

The couple realise that in one way or another the relationship is doomed, and are told by a sympathetic observer who has noticed their love to make the most of it while they can because there is "so little time". Inevitably they are betrayed and have to face being parted forever. She is shot and, unable to reconcile himself to the situation,[3] Hohensee shoots himself.



The film was going to be directed by Max Ophuls and was set in France. French authorities complained so the action was relocated to Belgium.[4]

Home media

So Little Time was released commercially on DVD in November 2015. A dubbed German-language version under the title Wenn das Herz spricht (When the Heart Speaks) was released to the German market in 2005.


  1. Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p498
  2. Time Out Film Guide, Penguin Books London, 1989, p.551 ISBN 0-14-012700-3
  3. Last scenes
  4. Harper, Sue; Porter, Vincent (2003). British Cinema of the 1950s: The Decline of Deference. Oxford University Press. pp. 178–180.
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