The Greengage Summer

The Greengage Summer

Movie poster
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Produced by Edward Small (executive)
Victor Saville
Written by
Starring Kenneth More
Danielle Darrieux
Susannah York
Music by Richard Addinsell
Cinematography Freddie Young
PKL Productions
Victor Saville-Edward Small Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
4 April 1961 (World Premiere, London, UK)
1 May 1961 (UK General Release)
20 September 1961 (United States)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Greengage Summer (called The Loss of Innocence in the USA) is a 1961 British drama film directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring Kenneth More and Susannah York (in her first leading role). It was based on the novel Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden. Set in Épernay, in the Champagne region of France, it is the story of the transition of a teenage girl into womanhood.

More later named it as his favourite film, stating, "She [Susannah York] was just twenty-one and an adorable was one of the happiest films on which I have ever worked."[1]


Joss Grey (Susannah York), a 16-year-old English girl, finds herself responsible for the care of her three younger siblings on a summer vacation in France when their mother is suddenly taken ill and rushed to the hospital. When they go to the Hotel Oeillets, proprietress Mademoiselle Zisi (Danielle Darrieux) does not want the responsibility of unchaperoned children, but her enigmatic English lover Eliot (Kenneth More) persuades her to accept them. As the days pass, she wishes she had stuck to her original answer; she is increasingly jealous of the attention Eliot pays to the children—especially to Joss.

Meanwhile, hotel employee Paul (David Saire), becomes suspicious of Eliot, snoops in his room, and finds a pistol. Eliot catches Paul and gets Zisi to fire him, but Joss's 13-year-old sister Hester (Jane Asher) has taken a liking to Paul and begs Joss to get Eliot to reconsider, which he does. But later he becomes angry when shutterbug Hester takes his picture. Then he rushes out of a tour of caves where champagne is stored to avoid famous guest Monsieur Renard (Raymond Gérôme), the best policeman in France. He also insists on turning away potential guests.

Tensions come to a boiling point when Zisi throws a glass of champagne in her rival's face. Eliot chases after her, saying—within Joss's hearing—that she is only a child. Gleaning from a newspaper article that Eliot is a notorious jewel thief, the outraged Joss mails Hester's photo of him to the police.

Eliot has already decided to leave. He sneaks out late at night and, hearing a drunken Paul attack Joss, rushes up to her room. He punches Paul, who tries to climb down a drainpipe but falls to his death. A remorseful Joss tells Eliot what she did to endanger him. At her request he gives her a grownup kiss. Then he disposes of Paul's body and absconds.

While Renard is questioning the uncooperative children the next morning, their solicitor uncle, Mr. Bullock (Maurice Denham), arrives. He has been summoned by an unsigned telegram to extricate them. Examining the message, Renard realizes that Eliot is trying to escape on a river barge.



The film was a coproduction between Victor Saville and Edward Small for United Artists. It was meant to be one of several the two made together, a never-filmed adaptation of The Mousetrap intending to be another,[2] with the third being Legacy of a Spy. Cary Grant was the original choice for the male lead.[3] However the film was eventually set up at Columbia.[4]

More later wrote that Lewis Gilbert insisted he go on a diet before making the film in order that he be more believable as a romantic lead. More did so as he very badly wanted to make the movie.[1]


The film premiered on 5 April 1961 at the Odeon Leicester Square in London's West End. Reviews were positive.[5]

Lewis Gilbert thought Kenneth More was miscast. "He was somehow too normal, it didn't quite work; that's a role Dirk [Bogarde] should have played because you could well imagine a girl of fifteen or sixteen falling in love with Dirk."[6]

Susannah York also felt that, though she "loved" the movie "I didn't think that was a totally successful film. I always felt that Dirk Bogarde was the person for the Kenneth More role. It needed someone with a touch of dark mystery and Dirk would have been perfect."[7]


  1. 1 2 Kenneth More, More or Less, Hodder & Stoughton, 1978. ISBN 0-340-22603-X
  2. ' BEN-HUR' TO RACE FOR 213 MINUTES: Film Will Be Third Longest Shown -- Small and Saville Planning 'Dear Spy' By RICHARD NASON. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 07 Oct 1959: 47.
  3. Saville to Resume Producing Career: Godden Novel First of Three; Harold Kennedy Plans Comedy Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 03 Nov 1958: C13.
  4. 20th's 'Sanctuary' Awaits Green Light: Richardson Will Direct Film Version of Faulkner Drama Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 01 June 1960: A11.
  5. An Engrossing and Different Experience Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 20 Aug 1961: M3.
  6. Brian MacFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema, Methuen 1997 p 222
  7. Brian MacFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema, Methuen 1997 p 622
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/10/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.