The Passionate Stranger


Directed By

Muriel Box


The BFI declares that The Passionate Stranger: “Surely has no serious rival as the most dazzlingly ambitious commercial British film of the 1950s in terms of form and, in its fluent manipulation of meta-fictional levels, now looks several decades ahead of its time”.

From trail-blazing director Muriel Box, The Passionate Stranger is boldly experimental in form and an entertaining riposte to the cliches of the Romance novel. Starring Margaret Leighton in sumptuous gowns by Norman Hartnell, Ralph Richardson, Carlo Justini and Patricia Dainton, all in dual roles.

Happily married house-wife Judith Wynter (Margaret Leighton, The Go-Between, The Winslow Boy, The Teckman Mystery) keeps the fact she is a best-selling author of steamy romance novels a closely guarded secret.  As her husband Roger (Ralph Richardson, Dr Zhivago, The Fallen Idol), recovers from a serious illness, the couple’s new driver Carlo (Carlo Justini, El Cid) discovers the manuscript of Judith’s latest novel and jumps to a rather unfortunate conclusion, making life in the Wynter household very complicated indeed!

Box used the device of portraying the real-life sections of the film in black and white, whilst the fictional novel is portrayed in colour, meaning that each section had to be exactly 10 minutes long in order to fit with the reel changes in cinemas. 

Ralph Richardson, Margaret Leighton, Patricia Dainton, Carlo Giustini
Other Credits
  • Written by Muriel Box and Sydney Box
  • Miss Leighton’s gowns by Norman Hartnell
  • Cinematography by Otto Heller
  • Edited by Jean Barker
Release Date
14 August 2023
  • New An Out and Out Feminist: Muriel Box and The Passionate Stranger, featuring interviews with Film Historian Dr. Josephine Botting, author of Her Brilliant Career: Ten Extraordinary Women of the Fifties, Rachel Cooke, film director Carol Morley
  • The Woman Behind the Picture: Archive interview with Muriel Box Part 1 
  • Behind the Scenes Stills Gallery
  • Original Trailer 
Restoration Details

For the 2023 restoration of The Passionate Stranger, STUDIOCANAL went back to the original camera negative which was scanned and restored in 4K to produce a brand new HD master


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Related Titles

Roy Boulting1959
Charles Crichton 1950
J. Lee Thompson1954
John Guillermin1978
Michael Hoffman 1985
Basil Dearden & Will Hay1942

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