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W.S. Van Dyke,
Robert Z. Leonard
Ambitious poor relation Blanche Fullerton accepts a job as governess from her wealthy cousins who have adopted the name Fury since they acquired the ancestral home of the Fury family. Blanche plots to become the lady of the manor but her illicit passion for the vengeful, obsessed Philip Thorn sets off a string of tragic events, including murder. Written by
Sounds kind of like a blaxploitation flick, doesn't it?
Actually, it's a British period piece that has many plot elements in common with a strain of movies of the 1940s, like Rebecca, Dragonwyck, and even Duel in the Sun. A woman working as a maid, Blanche Fuller (Valerie Hobson), discovers that she is on the fringes of a very wealthy family, the Furies. When she arrives, she discovers a strange situation. Her family, the Fullers, who come from a lower class background, have married into the Furies, all of whom have died. The only remaining Fury, or possibly a Fury, is Philip Thorn (Stewart Granger), supposedly the illegitimate son of the last living Fury. He works on their estate, called Claire, but he is trying to inherit the estate; his lawyer is researching his lineage. He's desperate to get his hands on the place. When Blanche marries her cousin, Laurence Fury, Thorn devises to seduce her. Also in his plotting he decides to use a group of Gypsies who have come into conflict with Claire and the Furies. Though it took a while for Blanche Fury to capture my wandering attention, eventually I started to get into it. The performances are what drew me in. Granger was especially delightful as the evil, scheming Thorn. I had to laugh at his clever deviousness at times. A man after my own heart, he is! Hobson is quite good, as is Michael Gough, who plays her weakling husband. The color cinematography and musical score are fine. The script feels like it came from a novel, but it was written for the screen, making it especially impressive. I like the character arc of Blanche Fury. She begins as a sort of a schemer herself, planning to get rich and wield her feminine power over the estate. Only when she comes into conflict with Thorn, a more clever and desperate conspirator, does she realize she herself has done wrong and will now have to do the right thing. The ending is weird, but rather haunting. This is an exceptional film. 9/10.
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