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The Wicked Lady (1945)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama | 21 December 1946 (USA)
17th-century beauty Barbara Worth starts her career of crime by stealing her best friend's bridegroom. Her next exploit is to recover gambling losses by donning mask and cloak and taking to... See full summary »

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(novel), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
...
...
...
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Hogarth
...
Lady Henrietta Kingsclere (as Enid Stamp Taylor)
...
...
Beatrice Varley ...
Aunt Moll
Amy Dalby ...
Aunt Doll
...
Cousin Agatha
...
Martin Worth
...
Ned Cotterill
...
Mistress Betsy
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Storyline

17th-century beauty Barbara Worth starts her career of crime by stealing her best friend's bridegroom. Her next exploit is to recover gambling losses by donning mask and cloak and taking to the roads as a highwayman! The thrill of these ventures proves addictive...especially when she meets a male highwayman who becomes her lover. Together, the two desperados lead a gay secret life, pursued by the local magistrate Sir Ralph Skelton...Barbara's husband! To what further crimes will the wicked Lady Skelton descend? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

That most talked about picture of the year! (Title lobby card). See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 December 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le masque aux yeux verts  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(British Acoustic)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Came ninth in the UK's Ultimate Film, in which films were placed in order of how many seats they sold at cinemas See more »

Goofs

The newspaper that first reports Barbara's and Jerry's exploits is dated Thursday, November 10th 1683. The 10th was a Saturday. See more »

Quotes

Lord Kingsclere: He's very lucky with the weather. Must be depressing to be hanged on a damp day.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Shepperton Babylon (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Down Among the Dead Men
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Hans May
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User Reviews

 
A true classic which should be made available on DVD in North America
3 February 2005 | by See all my reviews

At the end of World War II the U.K. Gainsborough Studios had a very fine reputation based on the production of a long string of successful films, and backed by a list of very well known performers on whom they could call. November 1945 saw the release of "The Wicked Lady" - a film version of a historical novel by Magdalen King Hall which featured four of their major stars, with Margaret Lockwood in the title role supported by Jean Kent, James Mason and Patricia Roc. Initially this film was panned by many of the critics, but it was immensely successful at the U.K. box office and has now certainly achieved the status of a major black and white classic. I first saw it at quite a young age soon after it was released, and (perhaps largely because of my impressionable age) thought it must be one of the most sexy films ever released. However a few years later I saw it again and this confirmed my first impression. Margaret Lockwood was a great actress who participated in some 50 films during a career which spanned over more than 40 years. The Wicked Lady was a mid-career film made at a time when she was at the peak of her powers and she gave a memorable, if chilling, performance in the part of Lady Barbara Skelton The performances of her co-stars were perhaps not quite so memorable, but this was largely because the premise of both the book and the film was that the wicked lady had a very much stronger character than anyone else with whom she interacted, and it would be hard to seriously fault any of the acting.

For some reason this film never achieved comparable success in the U.S.A. Because the meticulously recreated seventeenth century costumes used for the original version displayed too much décolletage for the Hayes office, it was re-filmed a year after it was first released with modified costumes, specifically designed for the U.S. market. According to IMDb, Universal Pictures were the U.S. distributors; but the film does not seem to be widely known and may only have received a very limited distribution - IMDb do not even list a U.S. rating for this film. Thirty eight years later the film was remade under the same title in colour, with Faye Dunaway in the title role. As is so often the case in such circumstances I found the original version to be very much more memorable, but unfortunately it has now become very difficult to purchase in a form suitable for home viewing. A DVD in PAL format has been released in Europe, but I do not think it was ever produced in NTSC format - one hopes this was not because of continuing concern about the necklines.

This year is the sixtieth anniversary of the original film (which was never released in the United States) and I am now submitting these comments to IMDb to suggest that the anniversary provides an ideal opportunity to release a North American DVD version of it. Many classic black and white films have been released on DVD in this way during the past few years and "The Wicked Lady" would be a worthy addition to this list. Some of the listed prices for such releases tend to be rather high, suggesting that large sales of monochrome films are not expected today. If this is a concern the original version of the film could probably be paired with the 1983 colour remake in a double release which would provide viewers interested in the development of the modern cinema with an excellent opportunity to compare the film making techniques of two very different periods.


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