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One of the trio of "silent shorts " that H. G. Wells wrote for Elsa Lanchester

Author: kerrison-philips from United Kingdom
24 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In this, Elsa Lanchester plays a boarding-house "skivvy," living-in and doing menial jobs for the landlady (Marie Wright). Elsa tells her friend Maggie (Dorice Fordred) that she thinks one of the other lodgers, a foreign student named Ram Das (Charles Laughton) has his eye on her: "I reckon he thinks I'd do for one of his columbines," Elsa remarks.

In Elsa's room, Maggie sees a photo of the Countess Pornay, the world's most romantic widow. Maggie tells Elsa all about the Countess who, before her marriage to the rich Count, was herself a lodging-house keeper's daughter. While she listens, Elsa is transported - as in a daydream. She vividly imagines herself, and the people in her daily life, acting out the Pornay drama as narrated by her friend.

She marries the wealthy Count Pornay and tours the world in supreme luxury. Then, one evening at the theatre, a rich, plump and bejewelled Rajah appears (Charles Laughton again). Elsa (as the Countess) ignores his designs on her, but nevertheless the Rajah will have her at any price. So his servants abduct her and take her to the rich Rajah's yacht. Her husband, the Count (Harold Warrender) pursues them in a hired aeroplane but loses control, crashes into the sea and sinks the yacht.

The three survive on a raft - Elsa (still in her daydream as the Countess), the Count and the Rajah. The two men fight over her desperately but they both fall into the sea, leaving only tell-tale bubbles on the surface. The Countess, when rescued, is all alone and hailed as the most popular widow in Europe.

Elsa has followed the story intently from start to finish. Open-eyed and now wide awake, she prepares excitedly to pack her things and leave her menial tasks behind. "Where are you off to?" asks Maggie. "Well, if a boarding-house lodger's daughter can become a Countess," she tells her friend as she hurries downstairs, "then so can I!"

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