Albert Parkis (The End of the Affair)

Created by Graham Greene

Definitely not a private eye tale, or even a mystery, really (at least in the traditional sense), but Graham Greene’s 1951 novel, The End of the Affair does feature private investigator ALBERT PARKIS of the Savage Detective Agency in a pivotal, if secondary, role.

In London, as World War II rages and the bombs fall, upcoming American novelist Maurice Bendrix takes up with Sarah Miles, an attractive married woman. Although it seems clear Sarah no longer loves her husband Henry, an impotent civil servant, she refuses to divorce him, and eventually decides to break off the affair with Maurice. Hurt and jealous, Maurice worries Sarah may have taken a new lover, and hires Parkis to find out why she’s left him.

The answer, when it comes, is all pretty saturated with questions about faith and honour and guilt. It was the fourth and last of Greene’s so-called “Catholic” novels, following Brighton Rock (1938), The Power and the Glory (1940), and The Heart of the Matter (1948), and was largely seen as semi-autobiographical, as Green was himself Catholic and involved in an extramarital affair at the time. He even dedicated the book to his lover.


But, you know, spiritual as well. Many consider it among Greene’s best and most personal novels, and it inspired a fair number of adaptations, including two feature films, a couple of plays and even an opera. 

The first adaptation, Edward Dmytryk’s 1955 film, met with mixed reviews, with many critics complaining about the casting of the leads, although most praised John Mills’ portrayal of the detective, Parkis. A similar fate befell the much better received 1995 remake, which starred Ralph Fiennes as Maurice, Julianne Moore as Sarah Miles and Ian Hart as Parkis. It’s also inspired a couple of plays (one a musical!) and even an opera. And the 2012 audiobook, narrated by Colin Firth was named the “Audiobook of the Year” at the Audies Gala in May 2013.


  • “If you ask us, we’d say the lady played by Deborah Kerr in the… new movie version of Graham Greene’s “The End of the Affair” is so badly confused and irrational in her wobbling between love for man and God that she’s probably best off in the condition she finally comes to, which is dead.”
    Bosley Crowther on the film (April 1955, The New York Times) 



  • THE END OF THE AFFAIR | Buy the DVD | Watch it now!
    (1955, Coronado Productions)
    Based on the novel by Grahame Greene
    Adapted by Lenore J. Coffee
    Directed by Edward Dmytryk
    Produced by David Lewis
    Executive producer: 
    Starring Van Johnson as Maurice Bendrix
    Deborah Kerr as Sarah Miles
    Peter Cushing as Henry Miles
    and John Mills as ALBERT PARKIS
  • THE END OF THE AFFAIR | Buy the DVD | Watch it now!
    (1999, Columbia)
    Based on the novel by Grahame Greene
    Screenplay by Neil Jordan
    Produced by Neil Jordan and Stephen Wooley
    Directed by Neil Jordan
    Starring Ralph Fiennes as Maurice Bendrix
    Julianne Moore as Sarah Miles
    Stephen Rea as Henry Miles
    and Ian Hart as PARKIS
    Julianne Moore was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.


    First performance: Salisbury Playhouse, UK, October 9, 1997
    Based on the novel by Grahame Greene
    Adapted by Rupert Goold and Caroline Butler
    Directed by Rupert Gooldt
    In its first incarnation, the play included period music sung by the cast, accompanied by a pianist. A subsequent 2001 production dumped the music.
    ( 2011)
    First performance: The Quantum Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Based on the novel by Grahame Greene
    Adapted by Karla Boos
    The Quantum Theatre was an experimental theatre company known for its non-traditional stages and bod costume, music and plot decisions.


    ( 2004)
    Premiere: Houston Grand Opera
    Based on the novel by Grahame Greene
    Adapted by Jake Heggie

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Nimble Nick Anez for the lead.

3 thoughts on “Albert Parkis (The End of the Affair)

  1. Thank you for reminding me of this book. I read End of the Affair at least 20 years ago. I liked it, but it was mostly the elegance of Greene’s prose that kept me at it. I would also offer, if I may, the opinion that his darkest works were The Comedians and The Third Man…

  2. Ouch! that is quite a devastating critique of Deborah Kerr by Bosley Crowther. Actually I thought she was quite affecting and credibly poignant. (Incidentally, I agree with you – ‘Cheeky’ is certainly the word to describe Greene’s dedication of his book to his mistress. I wonder if he mentioned this in his next confession to his priest.)

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