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Man of Evil (1944)

Fanny by Gaslight (original title)
Approved | | Drama, Romance | May 1944 (UK)
Returning to 1870's London after finishing at boarding school, Fanny witnesses the death of her father in a fight with Lord Manderstoke. She then finds that her family has for many years ... See full summary »

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(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ann Stephens ...
Fanny As Child
Gloria Sydney ...
Lucy As Child
Phyllis Calvert ...
Fanny
...
...
...
...
Lucy
Margaretta Scott ...
Alicia
Nora Swinburne ...
Cathleen Nesbitt ...
...
...
William Hopwood
Stuart Lindsell ...
Amy Veness ...
Mrs. Heaviside
Ann Wilton ...
Carver
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Storyline

Returning to 1870's London after finishing at boarding school, Fanny witnesses the death of her father in a fight with Lord Manderstoke. She then finds that her family has for many years been running a bordello next door to their home. When her mother dies shortly after, she next discovers that her real father is in fact a well-respected politician. Meeting him and then falling in love with his young advisor Harry Somerford leads to a life of ups and downs and conflict between the classes. Periodically the scoundrel of a Lord crosses her path, always to tragic effect. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

May 1944 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Man of Evil  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(BAF Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Originally banned in the USA because it transgressed the Hays Purity Code See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: LONDON

1870 See more »

Connections

Remade as Fanny by Gaslight (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

La Belle Helene Waltz
(uncredited)
Music by Jacques Offenbach
Arranged by Hubert Bath
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Part Dickens, Part Soap Opera
8 May 2009 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Fanny By Gaslight was one of Gainsborough Pictures romances starring its greatest stars, Phyllis Calvert, Stewart Granger, and James Mason all in their salad days. It's a Victorian soap opera with a lot of Dickens like class consciousness thrown into the mix.

The best works of Charles Dickens like David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, and Great Expectations have the common thread of a young man of limited means making his way in the world who with a combination of hard work and good circumstances comes out on top at the end of the story. Fanny By Gaslight is just that kind of a story, except that Dickens would never have his protagonist be a woman. But Fanny Hooper as played by Phyllis Calvert is as good a Dickens hero as you will ever find.

When Calvert returns from boarding school her father, John Laurie, is killed in a fight ejecting a drunken James Mason from his establishment which is just this side of a brothel. When he dies she finds out that Laurie was not her real father, that she is the daughter of a prominent politician Stuart Lindsell. She's taken into his house as a maid. Calvert also makes the acquaintance of rising young politician Stewart Granger who is a protégé of Lindsell and Granger falls big time for Calvert.

Eventually all this becomes known about Calvert's background and it leads to an inevitable climax between Mason and Granger. How it gets to that point is the crux of the film.

Several incidents from the 19th century are used. The sex scandals are pieced from those involving Charles Dilke and Charles Parnell. Lindsell's suicide, jumping in front of a train is a recreation of the death of William Huskisson killed accidentally though by George Stephenson's newly invented locomotive.

Calvert and Granger are a winning pair of lovers and James Mason is one hateful aristocratic villain, a privileged man who lives to enjoy his privileges at the expense of others as Phillip Barry said.

I was surprised at how well Fanny By Gaslight holds up today. In fact the Hays Office had it banned from the USA for a while. Maybe that's its secret.


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