Portrait from Life

Date: 1948
Director: Terence Fisher
Production Company: Gainsborough Pictures

Stars: Mai Zetterling, Robert Beatty, Guy Rolfe, Herbert Lom, Patrick Holt
Location(s): Hampshire, London

Region(s): ,


Intrigued by the portrait of a girl in a London art gallery, an Army Major attempts to find her among the refugees living in various camps for displaced persons in Europe.

Additional Information:

Screen captures by Phil Wilkinson

Also known as ‘Lost Daughter’ or ‘The Girl in the Painting’ (US Titles)


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Discovering that his girlfriend got married whilst he was away with the Army, Major David Lawrence (Guy Rolfe) leaves his drinking pals and walks into the street. The south side of Piccadilly in London W1. The buildings to the right have been replaced.

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Almost the right angle. (PW)

Feeling rather low, the Major mingles with the hoard of pedestrians. Piccadilly with Piccadilly Circus in the right distance.

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Waiting for a gap in the traffic became monotonous so here's the location with added taxis. (PW)

Major Lawrence walks through the crowds feeling very lonely. Piccadilly with the entrance to Albany Court Yard just visible on the extreme right.

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The bell push is still there in Peter's view.

Continuing along the street, a poster advertising a War Artists Exhibition catches his eye. Outside the Geological Society on Piccadilly W1, spotted by RL.

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Peter continues along Piccadilly.

Coming out of the exhibition with Professor Franz Menzel who he met whilst the two were looking at a portrait entitled Hildegarde, the Major hails a taxi. Piccadilly, outside the Geological Society.

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It's not often that there's less traffic in a modern view but Peter managed to get this shot.

The Major and the Professor climb into the cab and the Austrian begins to explain that the picture is a portrait of his daughter, Lidia. Looking over to the south side of Piccadilly in London W1. The ABC sign to the left belongs to one of a series of cafés owned by the Aerated Bread Company.

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Peter records that rebuilding has taken place to the left in this last shot of Piccadilly.

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The taxi passes through Cumberland Gate. Since demolished, the gate stood to the south of Marble Arch in W2 at the northern end of The Ring.

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The shot pans with the cab as the two men head towards Camden Town to find the artist, Duncan Reid. The roads have been realigned in this area to create today's Cumberland Gate and widened Park Lane.

The shot fades as the cab turns onto Tyburn Way. The corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane stands in the left background. The location also appears in 'Nothing Barred', 'Trouble in Store', 'Major Barbara' and 'Monsieur Ripois' amongst many others.

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A similar view by Peter.

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As the journey continues, the Professor tells the Major of his life and how he became separated from his daughter Lidia before the war.

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The camera moves with the car while Major Lawrence explains that he has seen some of the displaced persons camps of the type where Lidia may be living.

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The cab arrives at Mrs. Skinner's lodging house on the film's Carnock Street where the two are told that Reid drinks and wouldn't return until late.

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Major Lawrence calls on Professor Menzel after a drunken Reid is found in a club called The Blue Poppy.

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Following Reid's death by chronic alcoholism the Major can't get Hildegarde out of his mind and decides to help the Professor find his daughter. Ray Glenister places this as Piccadilly, London W1 looking at the Piccadilly Hotel, now the Meridian and Air Street going off on the extreme upper right. (RL)

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The Major arrives in Groningen in the Netherlands.

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The camera follows the Jeep as it turns into the Red Cross Search Station. Looks more like a London suburb than a Dutch Red Cross station.

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Inside the station, Major Lawrence is told that there is no record of Lidia but is given hope when allowed on a tour of inspection of the camps.

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Lidia (Mai Zetterling) comes out of the school hut at displaced persons camp Number 31. A contributor on IMDB advises that this is a disused Army Camp situated between Lepe Beach and Langley south of Fawley in Hampshire.

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When Lidia's identity cannot be confirmed, the Major is taken to the recreation hut where he questions Hans Ackermann.

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Suspiciously, Ackermann leaves the camp after darkness.