THE WILD HEART
(aka Gone To Earth)
Color, (Gone to Earth 110 min., The WIld Heart 82 min.)
Released: May 29, 1952 (RKO)
Cast: Jennifer Jones (as Hazel Woodus), David Farrar, Cyril Cusack, Sybil Thorndike, Edward Chapman, Esmond Knight.
Director: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Producer: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Complete Credits at IMDB
An English gypsy girl whose life is governed by superstition and magic is urged by her father to marry. She promises him that she will marry the first man who asks her even though her deepest affection is for her pet fox. Hazel is pursued by two men, the local pastor and an English squire. When the parson proposes marriage, she accepts and they marry but conflicts arise when the squire continues his pursuit of Hazel.
The Wild Heart is a film unlike anything Jennifer Jones ever did. It was based on the novel by Mary Webb and came to Selznick's attention on a visit to England. Selznick had recently inked a deal with Sir Alexander Korda to make several films in England and Gone To Earth (the original title) was to be one of these. It was to be directed by the prestigious team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger whose recent films The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus were universally praised.
Jennifer worked hard at the role of Hazel Woodus, especially at perfecting a Shropshire accent. It was filmed on location in the Shropshire countryside which resulted in some beautiful scenery. Unfortunately when the film was released in England that year it flopped at the box office. Selznick was so dissatisfied with the film that he decided to redo it in Hollywood. He hired director Rouben Mamoulain to direct new scenes while he cut scenes from the original. After the hatchet job, the new film, now called The Wild Heart ran only 82 minutes as compared to the 110 minute original. It was not released in the United States until 1952 (two years following it's release in England) and it too failed at the box office.
Today, The Wild Heart is being reassessed. The original Powell/Pressburger version was recently released in art theaters in the United States to great success. It is one of Jennifer Jones most provocative performances. Her accent (although criticized at the time) is very effective and the wild innocence of Hazel is the type of role she excelled in. It has been said that the power of her performance is lost in the cut version.
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