Lost Media Archive

Broken English is a rarely seen movie made in 1981 by Michie Gleason about interracial romance. It is more known for being the only acting role of Oona O'Neil.


The film's plot is about Sarah, who marries an African man called Maas, despite coming under fire from her friends and family. When Sarah discovers that Maas is part of a group of South African freedom fighters, she joins the cause, while reassessing her own believes


  • Beverly Ross as Sarah
  • Jacques Martial as Maas
  • Greta Ronningen as Leslie
  • Mansour Sy as Cheekh
  • Oona O'Neill as Sarah's Mother
  • Frankie Stein as Cecile


The film was the directing début of Michie Gleason who was in a relationship with Terrence Malick, whom she had been assistant director on his Days of Heaven. She dealt with conflicts with the producer Schneider who demanded that his wife Ronningen had a part and demanded more Sex Scenes.

The Film is known as the only major acting role of Oona O'Neil, widow of Charlie Chaplin, who was trying to start again with her acting career that she abandoned in the 1940's when she married Chaplin, she plays the Alcoholic Mother of Sarah who isn't shy to hide her disappointment.


The Production Studio at Lorimar were unhappy with the final film due to it lack of sexual explicit scenes, so the film wasn't released, Schneider did sue the studio and won but never produced another film. But the film was shown only at Festivals.


Michie Gleason did make 2 more movies that had general releases Summer Heat (1987) and The Island of the Mapmakers Wife (2001).

Oona O'Neil never attempted to make another movie, she did try to carve out a life for herself, in New York, but she returned to the home she shared with Chaplin living the rest of her life as a recluse, she died in 1991 of Cancer.


The Film seems to be in the hands of Gleason who has only rarely screened it at festivals.

While not lost there is only about 5 minutes worth of footage that does exist on Gleason's film company website Virginia Films, which also is on a Vimeo account in Gleason's name.