The Final Test

The Final Test is a 1953 British sports film written by Terence Rattigan, directed by Anthony Asquith, and starring Jack Warner, Robert Morley, George Relph and Ray Jackson.[1] A number of leading cricketers also appear including Denis Compton, Len Hutton and Cyril Washbrook. The film was produced by R.J. Minney for Act Films Ltd.[2]

The Final Test
The Final Test (1953 film).jpg
Directed byAnthony Asquith
Written byTerence Rattigan
StarringJack Warner
Robert Morley
Ray Jackson
Music byBenjamin Frankel
CinematographyWilliam McLeod
Edited byHelga Cranston
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
14 August 1953
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


The film is a light drama, set around elderly leading cricketer Sam Palmer's last appearance for England.

Action jumps between various elements: an Englishman (Richard Wattis) explaining to an American the rules and terminologies of the game from the audience; Jim's home life; the pub listening to cricket on the radio; Sam's interactions with players and family; and Reggie's attempts to meet his theatrical hero Alexander Whitehead (Robert Morley). This is interspersed with documentary footage of real cricket games.

Sam desperately wants his son Reggie to be there at The Oval to witness his last match, but Reggie has a developing passion for poetry and instead of attending the game has a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance of meeting a leading poet, Alexander Whitehead. But when Reggie meets Whitehead, it turns out he is a huge fan of cricket.[3] Whitehead takes Reggie along to the match, in time to see Sam's innings, and persuades Reggie that there is more to cricket than he had previously thought.

In Sam's final appearance he is dismissed leg before wicket. As he walks back to the pavilion the other players line his route and the spectators give him a standing ovation.


The England cricketers Len Hutton, Denis Compton, Alec Bedser, Godfrey Evans, Jim Laker and Cyril Washbrook appear as themselves with John Arlott providing the match commentary.


The writer Terence Rattigan was an excellent cricketer in his school days. He was opening batsman for the Harrow Eleven, often in partnership with Victor Rothschild, and in 1929 he represented Harrow at Lord's in the annual match against Eton College. He originally wrote The Final Test - his first play for television - in 1951, partly as a tribute to Sir Donald Bradman, who was out for a duck in his final test in 1948.[4][5] That production was directed by Royston Morley and starred Patrick Barr as Sam Palmer.[6]

As with almost all of Rattigan's plays, the theme of the relationship between father and son, and the tension between parental expectations and the son's driving force leading him in different directions, is explored.

The play was filmed in 1953, directed by Anthony Asquith.

Critical receptionEdit

In The Spectator, Virginia Graham wrote, "Often witty, always undeviatingly amiable, this is a delightful film, a simple friendly film full of national jokes which, as no other country could possibly share them, give one the comfortable relaxed feeling of being at home and liking it there";[7] Sky Cinema wrote, "It's difficult to imagine that this little film packed London's huge Odeon, Leicester Square, in its day, but it did";[8] Leonard Maltin called it a "Droll, minor comedy";[9] The New York Times wrote, "Perhaps the cognoscenti will not call "The Final Test" cricket, but it definitely adds up to fun";[10] and more recently, The Guardian called it "Britain's only significant cricket picture."[11]

Media releasesEdit

The film was released on Region 2 DVD on 6 August 2007.[12]


  1. ^ The Final Test on IMDb
  2. ^ Action! Fifty Years in the Life of a Union. Published: 1983 (UK). Publisher: ACTT. ISBN 0 9508993 0 5. ACT Films Limited - Ralph Bond p81 (producer listed as R J Minney) - "ACT Films was, of course, anxious to make more first features with bigger budgets and more shooting time. The opportunity came in 1952 when Terence Rattigan offered us his script for The Final Test..."
  3. ^ "The Final Test (1953)". Archived from the original on 14 January 2009.
  4. ^ "Terence Rattigan on television — and DVD". 1 August 2011.
  5. ^ "The Final Test – review - cast and crew, movie star rating and where to watch film on TV and online". Radio Times.
  6. ^ "The Final Test (1951)".
  7. ^ "CINEMA » 10 Apr 1953 » The Spectator Archive".
  8. ^ "The Final Test".
  9. ^ "Final Test, The (1953) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Parkinson, David (24 August 2009). "If only Ashes-inspired cinema was as triumphant as real-life" – via
  12. ^ "The Final Test". 6 August 2007 – via Amazon.

External linksEdit