Caroline Ruthyn is the teen-aged niece of the her uncle Silas, a sickly and at one time unbalanced man who becomes her guardian on the death of her father. The fact that Silas is broke and ... See full summary »
Caroline Ruthyn is the teen-aged niece of the her uncle Silas, a sickly and at one time unbalanced man who becomes her guardian on the death of her father. The fact that Silas is broke and greedy and young Caroline is the heir to her father's great fortune is reason enough for Caroline to be wary, but her fears escalate when she meets Silas's perverted son and when she discovers that her fearsome former governess, Madame de la Rougierre, is in league with her uncle. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A feast for Le Fanu fans--avoid the butchered American print.
This moody version of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's classic Gothic novel is quite simply one of the most accomplished British films of the 1940's.
With cinematography reminiscent of (and rivaling)that seen in David Lean's "Great Expectations," it is a pity that this picture is not better known.
This may accrue from the fact that an American, heavily edited, and re-titled version ("The Inheritance") is the only print in U.S. circulation.
At all costs avoid this butcher job, as the 6 minutes of missing footage are very germane to the story's narrative, mood and imagery.
Jean Simmons is a reminder of yet another lost dramatic staple--a decorous, demure heroine, who speaks in complete sentences with flawless diction. Her lady like deportment combined with her unquestioned loveliness makes her a very sympathetic Lady Caroline. Mr. De Marney is similarly impressive as the sinister, titular character.
But the film belongs to Katina Paxinou as the redoubtable Madame De La Rougierre. I believe Mr. Le Fanu would approve of her performance. In any case, her first appearance, as depicted with her malignant face peering through a rain lashed window pane, is as startling an entrance as one could hope for.
Laurence Irving's art direction is superb, (and some of his sketches for this film are included in Edward Carrick's "Art and Design in the British Film," Dennis Dobson, London) fully realizing, as it does, the stories' atmospheric requirements, and amply demonstrating how superior sound stages are to location shooting.
All told, this picture stands favorably alongside Thorold Dickinson's "Queen of Spades," Terence Young's "Corridor of Mirrors," Anthony Pelissier's "Rocking Horse Winner," Leslie Arliss' "Night Has Eyes," Jacques Tourneur's "Experiment Perilous," and Martin Gabel's "The Lost Moment," as one of a small group of visually distinguished Gothic melodramas of the 1940's, and far superior to the more recent television version, which despite the welcome presence of Peter O'Toole and Barbara Shelley lacks both flavor and mood.
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