Windom's Way

Windom's Way is a 1957 British thriller film directed by Ronald Neame and starring Peter Finch and Mary Ure. Made in Eastman Color, it is set during the Malayan Emergency.

Windom's Way
Original trade ad
Directed byRonald Neame
Produced byJohn Bryan
John Hawkesworth
Earl St. John
Written byJill Craigie
Based onnovel by James Ramsey Ullman
StarringPeter Finch
Mary Ure
Music byJames Bernard
CinematographyChristopher Challis
Edited byReginald Mills
J Arthur Rank Organisation
Distributed byRank Organisation
Release date
December 1957
Running time
108 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom


Dr Alec Windom is a British doctor who works in a village in Malaya. He is visited by his estranged wife Lee.


Main cast

Supporting cast

Cameo/Uncredited cast

Original novel

The film was based on a 1952 novel by James Ramsey Ullman, which was reportedly inspired by Dr. Gordon S. Seagrave, who was imprisoned for allegedly helping the Karen people. The novel was set in the fictitious island state of Papaan.[1][2][3]

Ullman says he wanted to tell the story how "in between man - call him the liberal - can get caught between the rollers of fanaticism or authoritarianism on either side; the case of a man trying to do his job and be a human being among other human beings and how hard this is in the twentieth century."[4] Ullman admitted the story of Seagrove "was somewhere in the back of my mind" when he wrote the book.[4]

The book was a Literary Guild choice and became a best seller in the US.[5] Ullman wrote a first draft of a play based on the book.[4]


Film rights to Windom's Way were bought by Carl Foreman, who wrote the script. He sold the rights to this and two other properties to Earl St John of Rank Film Productions. The script was rewritten and 'Anglicized' by Anthony Perry. Perry's draft was considered too "political" and was rewritten by Jill Craigie to be softened. However the resulting work was considerably more left wing than Rank's other colonial war films of this time such as The Planter's Wife and Simba.[6][7]

Ronald Neame had just left The Seventh Sin (1957) during production. He was contacted by his old producing partner John Bryan who suggested Neame make Windom's Way with Peter Finch.

Finch made the film immediately after returning from Australia where he made Robbery Under Arms. Part of the location shoot took place in Corsica. The rest was filmed at Pinewood.[8]

Neame says Corsica was a "difficult location".[9]


"It was not a successful picture, I'm afraid," said Neame later. "I think it fell between two stools, neither politically profound nor exciting enough as an action film. John just liked the book very much and I would have directed anything to get back to the studios again."[10]

"The finished film may have had too many messages for people to stay interested," Neame later wrote. "It was neither a hit nor a disgrace."[9]


The film was nominated for four British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards in 1958.[11]


The New York Times said the film was "without any topical teeth" in which Windom's "political sympathies, like the geography, are so vague that one need have no fear of being subverted by associating with him in this film. All one needs to worry about, precisely, is being a little provoked and bored."[12]


  1. "REVIEWS IN BRIEF". The Sydney Morning Herald (36, 000). New South Wales, Australia. 9 May 1953. p. 8. Retrieved 22 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  2. "Natives took to Reds after village uprising". The Australian Women's Weekly. 20, (29). Australia, Australia. 17 December 1952. p. 2. Retrieved 22 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. t Can Happen--and Has--to Doctors in the Far East Wood, Percy. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]25 May 1952: c5
  4. Ullman Wants Down Off Mountain By Rochelle Girson. The Washington Post (1923-1954); Washington, D.C. [Washington, D.C]20 July 1952: B7.
  5. The Best Sellers New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]27 July 1952: BR8.
  6. British Cinema of the 1950s: The Decline of Deference by Sue Harper, Vincent Porter Oxford University Press, 2003 p 43-45
  7. Nelmes, Jill; Selbo, Jule (2015). Women Screenwriters: An International Guide. Springer. p. 645. ISBN 9781137312372.
  8. BRITISH SCREEN SCENE.: Televised Feature Results in Lawsuit --New Projects--Bright Inventory Work in Progress "Comeback" Rebuttal By STEPHEN WATTS. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 23 June 1957: 93.
  9. Neame p 156
  10. Brian McFarlane, Autobiography of British Cinema p 433
  12. New York Times review of film
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