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Saturday, 21 July 2012

Libel - Star of the month... Olivia de Havilland

Libel is a 1959 British drama directed by Anthony Asquith and starring Dirk Bogarde, Olivia de Havilland, Paul Massie, Wilfred Hyde-White and Robert Morely. 

The film is based on the 1935 play of the same name by Edward Wooll, with the screenplay written by Anatole d Grunwald and Karl Tunberg.

While travelling in London, World War II veteran Jeffrey Buckenham (played by Massie) sees Sir. Mark Sebastian Loddon (played by Bogarde) on television, giving a tour of his home with his wife Lady Margaret Loddon (played by de Havilland).  While watching the program, Buckenham recognises Loddon from his days in a German prison, and is convinced he is really another man Frank Wellney (another former prisoner), and is impersonating Loddon.  Buckenham provides this information to the press, where it is front page news. In response to this, Loddon sues Buckenham for libel (defamation). During the court case, Loddon finds it extremely difficult to prove he is really Loddon, to a point where even his wife begins to doubt him.

Award nominations

  • Academy Award nomination for Best Sound

Closing remarks

Although the film begins rather slow, it does pick up in a gripping courtroom drama that leaves you guessing whether the protagonist is Buckenham or Wellney. Bogarde and de Havilland aren't bad, although this isn't one of their best performances. Robert Morely and Wilfred Hyde-White are both fantastic as alway as the two lawyers on opposite sides of the case.

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