British theatrical director Peter Glenville made his film directorial debut with 1955's The Prisoner (Glenville had previous helmed the London stage production of this Bridget Boland play). The film is based on the real-life travails of Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty, who after suffering under Nazi persecution was imprisoned by the new Communist regime for remaining loyal to his religious convictions. Alec Guinness, his head shaved, plays an unnamed Cardinal in an unspecified Eastern European country who is clapped into jail. Here he is ordered by the politicos to issue a phony statement to his flock, one that will effectively end Catholicism in his country. Jack Hawkins plays the diabolically clever "Interrogator," who is almost successful in convincing Guinness that his false statement will have a beneficial effect. The Prisoner fared better in its American release than it did in Europe, where it was branded both "pro-Communist" and "anti-Communist" by various single-issue pressure groups.