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At an estate auction in WWII England, two strangers meet and muse about their families' history and possible connections. Flashbacks reveal the story of the sweet, rich, and beautiful Clarissa Richmond and her friendship with bitter, impoverished Hesther Snow. Their fates are intertwined even as their paths diverge. Clarissa marries the handsome but cruel Marquis of Rohan while Hesther becomes an actress. Eventually, the two women meet again and Clarissa brings the scheming Hesther into her household. As Clarissa searches for true love, Hesther plots to take away everything that belongs to her. Written by
'The Man In Grey' was the first film in the cycle of Gainsborough costume melodramas (which ended in 1948 with 'The Bad Lord Byron') and it's easily one of the very best. At the time, it was the pairing of a superstar (Lockwood), a star (Mason), a rising star (Calvert) and a newcomer (Granger), a combination which catapulted all four to the top of their profession, and made them the four names most associated with the costume. It's a pity that the four never made another movie all together!
Margaret Lockwood as Hesther was just pure evil - a cold, calculating woman. One does get the idea that there is a small glimmer of kindness inside her, but she squashes it pretty quickly. Phyllis Calvert was as sweet as honey, as usual the beloved heroine. Her Clarissa is the main character of the tale
married off to Lord Rohan (Mason) because he desires an heir, she soon
tires of his indifference and falls for traveling player Rokeby (Granger). Hesther (Lockwood) in turn falls for Rohan and he for her. And of course you know that's set for trouble. A hint of how much trouble? THIS is the film with the infamous horse-whip thrashing scene.
What's also interesting is the whole story is told in flashback, when Calvert and Granger, descendents of the Rohan and Rokeby families, meet at an auction of the Rohan estate. Nice to see a bit of modern dress for a change!
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