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Though based on real events which took place in the 19th century, when a young girl accused two women of kidnapping and abusing her, THE FRANCHISE AFFAIR is ultimately a disappointment. The premise is sound and the film paints a disapproving picture of lynch-mob mentality, but the whole thing is scuttled by Michael Dennison's dreadful performance in the lead. His stiff-necked delivery lacks vitality and passion, and director Lawrence Huntington stages the entire picture like a piece of theatre, lining his characters in front of an apparently immovable camera and allowing dialogue to carry the 'action'. It's all frightfully, frightfully British, of course (Dennison's proposal of marriage to Dulcie Gray is an inadvertent laff riot), and much too stiff and formal. That said, the central narrative is unusual and compelling, though the script makes a dubious attempt to resolve the real-life mystery upon which the film is based.
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