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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Tod Slaughter was vastly underrated as an actor. This was his movie debut, at the ripe old age of 50. This movie is just so watchable, even now, some 66 years after it's first release. Tod plays the villainous squire Corder, a man of questionable morals, with a penchant for the young ladies of his locality. Sophie Stewart is the young lady that is drawn to the charms of the smooth-talking squire, oblivious of the attentions of the besotted gypsy Carlos. Alas, it transpires to be her undoing, and the lovely Maria of the title is done to death by that dastardly rogue Corder. The rest of the film is devoted to the eventual unmasking of the killer, and him getting his just desserts for that foul deed. Let's face it, there are so many films from this era that just don't quite stand up to scrutiny by the modern-day viewer, but appreciate this film for what it really is...a melodramatic masterpiece from the late, great N. Carter Slaughter.
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