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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 <email@example.com>
Gloomy Gothic melodrama is wildly overacted bundle of clichés...
Lovely JEAN SIMMONS and the bland but handsome DEREK BOND are the only actors in the cast of UNCLE SILAS not given to wild overacting. Simmons plays a Victorian waif who has an idealized portrait of her UNCLE SILAS, who turns out to be a villain rather than a saint.
He is played in ham acting mode by DERRICK DeMARNEY, looking more foolish than sinister as the overwrought uncle with the nasty son, both in cahoots with an evil woman posing as the girl's new governess (KATINA PAXINOU). Paxinou too plays her role in a style so overly melodramatic that she makes Mrs. Danvers (of REBECCA) look like Little Red Riding Hood.
Every close-up of Paxinou and every camera angle hammers home the point that she's an unscrupulous mad woman after Simmons' inheritance, just as Uncle Silas and son are. She relishes every opportunity to chew every piece of scenery in sight, easily becoming the focal point of the story whenever she makes an entrance.
To Jean Simmons' credit, she never joins the others in their freak show performances. Just a careful lift of her arched brow and a bewildered expression are all she's willing to do when up against all the scene stealing going on between Derrick and Katina.
The clichés are in such abundance throughout that this becomes almost laughable at times. It takes Simmons almost the whole length of the movie to develop enough backbone to see that she's being hoodwinked by her guardian and others in the gloomy Victorian mansion.
Summing up: So overdone, that it gives gaslight melodramas a bad name for being outlandishly over the top from beginning to end.
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