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Before watching this movie I had never seen Aline MacMahon in such an
important role, 'cos here she's the star of the picture and she really is
great...she was such an actress!!! Her acting technique is so
her playing so sincere....she's lovely.
I must admit that I expected more of the film as whole, from its first half hour, but anyway it's a very good movie, it has an entertaining storyline and excellent performances all around, especially by miss MacMahon and Basil Rathbone, and such a talented large supporting cast! (Dudley Digges, Eily Malyon, Frank Albertson, etc.)
MacMahon plays the endearing Miss Herries, the extremely `kind' and single society lady of the title, who lives alone in her big house in London, surrounded by beautiful objects, who learns the hard way, that one has to be careful of being so kind and generous, in a world like ours..Basil Rathbone's character really deceived me at first, because I had no knowledge of the film's plot whatsoever, so I won't tell you more.
This is a `B' picture, but for sure much more entertaining and fulfilling than many other A pictures of the period..and it has a surprisingly short running time: 76 minutes...but many things happen in such a short period of time!
An excellent thriller in which an artist tries to take over a woman's life to get the fabulous 10 paintings she owns, worth a fortune. Surprisingly, five years ago I saw the 1951 remake with Ethel Barrymore and Maurice Evans in the leads, but that in no way diminished my enjoyment of this film, despite my knowing the ending. I found Aline MacMahon a bit too young for the title role in this film, but I relished Basil Rathbone as the evil artist. He's such a convincing villain. Dudley Digges and Eily Malyon are also excellent as Rathbone's accomplices, although I wondered how such a cultured man as Rathbone got involved with these lowlifes. And why is Murray Kinnell, as the doctor also in cahoots with Rathbone, involved in such a nasty undertaking? He's a real doctor, as we find out after he murders the maid he catches trying to call the police; he fills out a death certificate. Doris Lloyd, playing a friend of MacMahon in this film played the maid, Rose, in the remake. The critics liked the remake better, but I felt both films are on par with each other. See both films and you decide.
I woke up one morning about 3:00 with the TV was still on, I go to sleep watching TCM, I love the old black and whites. A movie called Kind Lady was playing, and although I was still sleepy, I couldn't stop watching this incredibly disturbing movie about a lovely kind woman played beautifully by Aline MacMahon and the most unlikable despicable character, played to the hilt by Basil Rathbone! I missed the very beginning so don't know why or how he got invited in the first place but the premise is that she's wealthy and generous and invites him, a starving artist, for some reason into her home. She's a collector and has some very famous and expensive paintings hanging in her living room, and after a few visits and a scam involving a pretend wife and starving baby, this horrid man manages to take over her entire life.. I just hated him, he played this character so well that the only thing I can say is that I found it disturbing! Of course it was made in the 30's so it's reasonably naive by today's standard, but a great movie nevertheless!
ALINE MacMAHON and BASIL RATHBONE star in this early screen version of
KIND LADY, given a remake in the 1950s, from a stage play.
MacMahon is the kindly woman who lives alone in a large house surrounded by handsome and expensive artifacts. On Christmas Eve, she gives a man shelter. The man (Rathbone) turns out to be a scam artist who doesn't fool the hired help but makes a complete fool out of MacMahon, soon ushering in all of his gang members and threatening to kill MacMahon if she doesn't cooperate with their schemes.
Extremely well done, with MacMahon giving one of her best screen performances in the title role. Rathbone is chilling as the intelligent thief intent on moving in and making a fortune by selling most of her possessions.
Interesting story gets fine treatment from the entire cast, including FRANK ALBERTSON as the nephew who suspects something is wrong, DUDLEY DIGGES and DONALD MEEK. MURRAY KINNELL, posing as the doctor, is smoothly villainous. So is Rathbone as the man behind the schemes.
Chilling and well worth watching.
Interesting to note that Edward Ward wrote the background score (composer for the 1943 "Phantom of the Opera"), which is given more prominence than usual in a film from this period and sets the tone for the Christmas setting at the story's start.
"Kind Lady" is based on a stage play. This version stars Aline
MacMahon, Basil Rathbone, Nola Luxford, Mary Carlisle, and Donald Meek.
It was remade with Ethel Barrymore and Maurice Evans in 1951.
"Kind Lady" is the story of Mary Herries, a wealthy British woman who takes pity on a starving artist, Henry Abbott (Rathbone), his wife, and baby and take them in. Her home and life are soon taken over by Abbott and his gang, and Mary is a prisoner in her own home while she is gradually robbed.
Somehow, with a younger Mary and Henry, this film has a different and better dynamic, although the denouement in the 1951 film is more interesting than the ending here. Here, Mary still has the possibility of romance in her life, and though it isn't explored (or, given the class distinctions, probably not even a thought), there is some chemistry in the beginning between Mary and the debonair, dashing Rathbone.
Aline MacMahon, normally in character roles, is excellent as Mary, a formal though generous and honest woman who cares for the less fortunate. Rathbone is dastardly and smooth as silk as Henry, whose aggressiveness becomes apparent almost immediately as he pressures Mary into buying one of his ugly paintings.
This version is a little less cruel in its treatment of poor Mary, who seems to have the freedom to move around; in the '51 version, she doesn't, and Henry actually does her portrait.
Both films are very good, as it's a strong story, but the '51 comes out as slightly superior. I did love this cast, though.
What an odd little movie from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Plot-rich but very stagey, almost as if it might have originally been a play, KIND LADY tells the story of a wealthy woman (McMahon) who takes in a starving artist (Rathbone) and his wife and daughter. Soon enough,she finds the artist is no artist, but a grifter with an extended family of grifters who soon move in on her. What they are after is her extensive collection of paintings, which are worth a fortune. The bogus artist and his crew hold the old lady captive, and only an 11th-hour intervention by a suspicious relative saves the day. A young Rathbone is suitably sinister and suave as the head of this pack of thieves and cutthroats, and McMahon is thoroughly convincing as the wealthy old woman who is much too generous. The marvelous character actor Dudley Digges plays Rathbone's main confederate. There is a doctor among this group of thugs, but it is never explained why he is part of the group. A little back story couldn't have hurt, like maybe he was peddling drugs and lost his license to practice medicine. Also, Rathbone is so elegant, one has to wonder why he has thrown in with this mostly ragtag lot, other than to assume these are the best people he could find to aid and abet him with his scam. Or perhaps he just acts and looks elegant, and is as sleazy as the rest of the crew when not working one of his deals. Who knows? A real curio with a top-notch cast, perfect for lovers of creaky old melodramas..
...to see Aline MacMahon, the great character actress, in a lead role. As a tender benefactress who unwisely invites a suave beggar (Basil Rathbone) into her gracious home on Christmas Eve, she effortlessly plays beyond her years and even suggests an inner life--you can see her past regrets, her essential goodness, and her cunning, all in her eyes. The rest of this ungainly comedy-suspense melodrama, adapted from a musty stage play, is boilerplate and frequently illogical; the compressed "stage time" is overused to skirt plot implausibilities, the ending is rushed, and leave it to the callow American (Frank Albertson) to get the dumb Brits out of their scrape, MGM-style. Hitchcock could have made the material work, and George B. Seitz is decidedly not Hitchcock. But it's a handsome programmer, told economically, with two great cinematic supporting players being given unusual chances to strut their stuff.
This is a great example of an original film and its remake being nearly
identical. Perhaps the remake is a tiny bit better, but they are just
so close that if you've seen one, there's no reason to see both.
Both are extremely frightening movies--more so than many "horror films" because the terror is more believable and threatening. It all starts when a nice rich lady helps out a supposedly nice guy down on his luck (Basil Rathbone). Soon, Rathbone's entire family is living in the woman's home and the doctor advises the sick wife and baby stay there until they are able to be moved. However, after a few days, it becomes apparent that they are NOT ill and the family is milking the woman's kindness for all its worth. When she tries to throw them out, the family refuses and have replaced the servants with a band of thieves who terrorize and bleed the woman of her money! It's all very tough to watch, as the people are so evil and cruel and you really get pulled into her nightmare. However, for lovers of suspense films, it's an excellent picture. Just be warned that it is pretty intense stuff--definitely not a film for the kids!
I enjoy watching a lot of older movies. Most suspense films that have
caught my eye are in part comedies. This one has an intensity that I
seldom see in this period. The other reviews have done a super job of
describing the performers, so no more here.
The story is so well done that it is almost painful to experience -- the feelings are .. don't do that .. how can they treat her the way they do .. why isn't someone helping .. etc, etc. Whether you will be able to 'enjoy' this production, may be part of your own preference, but everyone that has selected movies to watch from this period needs to watch this one.
1935's "Kind Lady" may be held in less regard than its 1951 remake, but comes off better by casting Aline MacMahon and Basil Rathbone in the leads, both younger and more effective than Ethel Barrymore and Maurice Evans. The widowed Mary Herries still pines for the husband she lost during the Great War, and meets impoverished artist Henry Abbott in front of her door on Christmas Eve, inviting him in for a short visit. She banishes any thoughts of romance with the suave handsome stranger upon learning he has a wife and child, and resolves never to see him again. She sadly fails to reckon with his persistence however, enabling him to move in his family and 'friends,' driving all but the maid (Nola Luxford) out of the house, filled with valuable paintings and artifacts, now targeted by Abbott and his despicable entourage. Dependable players such as Murray Kinnell (as the murderous doctor), Dudley Digges, Frank Reicher, E. E. Clive, and Donald Meek make a terrific ensemble, as Mary feigns illness in seeking to regain the upper hand, an uphill struggle without outside help. Having debuted opposite Edward G. Robinson and Boris Karloff in 1931's "Five Star Final," Aline MacMahon enjoys one of her few starring roles, while Rathbone was only solidifying the villainous reputation he so richly deserved, until Sherlock Holmes succeeded in making audiences forget how deliciously wicked he could be (he'd already played Philo Vance in 1930's "The Bishop Murder Case").
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