In a 15th-century feudal village, a woman is accused of witchcraft and put to death. Her beautiful older daughter knows the real reason for the execution lies in the lord's sexual desire ... See full summary »
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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Until a few weeks ago, I had never even heard of Tod Slaughter. Now I have got to see three of his films and I absolutely love him. He is the master of pomposity. He has virtually no moral sense. In all three films, he frolics with much younger women. He has no qualms about bumping off anyone that gets in his way. In this film, he is a squire who has run up some sizable gambling debts. He has been wooing a local man's daughter, for obvious reasons. She is even willing to marry him, but he needs money, so, instead, he becomes engaged to the ugly daughter of a rich man. To seal things up, he must kill the attractive young woman and then cover his tracks. No one believes the young gypsy man who figures things out. There is a lot of classism going on. He is one of the haves and the have nots must curtsy to him. When Slaughter is on the screen he is absolutely dominating. I'm now hoping to locate some more. This is a bleak but intense film. The setting is wonderful, in the stultifying country, with its secrets. What a cad!
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