Passage Home

poster for a film titled Passage Home starring Peter Finch and Diane Cilento
Passage Home
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Passage Home (Roy Ward Baker, UK, 1955): Starring Diane Cilento (1932–2011), b. Mooloolaba, Qld

In her leading role debut in Passage Home, 21-year-old Diane Cilento stood out as the sole female actor among a cast of 30 men. She played British governess Ruth Elton, the only woman onboard a cargo ship.

Working alongside fellow Australian Peter Finch for the first time (they later acted together in I Thank a Fool, 1962), Cilento bravely performed her own stunts, rolling around on a deck in filthy water.

Her performance was met with rave reviews. Evening Standard film critic Thomas Wiseman dubbed her the Audrey Hepburn of 1956. Pinewood Studios’ production chief Earl St John gushed, ‘She combines the sex appeal of a Lollobrigida with the cool sensitivity of a Grace Kelly. Within a year she will be one of the biggest stars in Britain.’

Within this poster Diane Cilento is emphasised as a ‘desirable woman’ and the leading lady, her image featuring prominently in the centre, surrounded by men shrouded in shadow.

Notes by Michelle Davenport