Adapted from a play that was based on a real-life murder case from 1827, although the play (and film) presented a highly sensationalized and sentimental version of the story. The real Maria Marten was hardly the innocent, virginal young thing as seen here; by the time of her murder she had already borne two children out of wedlock and was notoriously free with her affections. She had also had a child by Corder (with whom she was having a consensual affair), which either died or was murdered. (The character of her other "good" lover is a complete fiction.) Marten's stepmother claimed to have dreams where Maria's ghost led her to the spot where her body was later found; later researchers have speculated that the stepmother (only a few years older than Maria) was an accomplice to the murder. Corder was the same age group as Maria; the Victorian melodramas made him into an older man and very much a stereotypical upper-crust villain. Much was written about it at the time and fascination with the case continued well into the 20th century. See more »
Squire William Corder:
Didn't I make you a promise, Maria? I promised to make you a bride. Don't be afraid, Maria. You shall be a bride...a bride of Death!
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"Based upon a true story, a small English town is the setting of a love triangle involving Squire Corder, the gypsy Carlos, and young Maria Marten. While Maria is smitten with Carlos, a roguish gypsy, she has attracted the attention of Squire Corder, a wealthy older man with a liking for younger women. When Maria disappears, after entering the (titled) Red Barn, suspicions fall upon Carlos, thanks to the efforts of Squire Corder," according to the DVD sleeve's revised synopsis.
There is some worth in seeing Tod Slaughter (as William Corder) perform in this old English chestnut, but 1935's filmed version of "Maria Marten, or The Murder in the Red Barn" is far too rough around the edges to recommend very highly. This was Mr. Slaughter's movie star debut; he is enjoyable, but rapport with the camera would grow stronger in future films. Eric Portman (as Carlos) does well as Slaughter's rival. And, Sophie Stewart (as Maria Marten) makes it three British stars rising on screen.
**** The Murder in the Red Barn (1935) Milton Rosmer ~ Tod Slaughter, Eric Portman, Sophie Stewart
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