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Just before the outbreak of World War I, Edith Graydon married her boyfriend Percy Thomson. He survives the war but theirs is not a happy marriage. She doesn't really love him and he feels it every day. He's also possessive and their daily life is a constant battle. She meets and falls in love with Frederick Bywaters, her sister's one-time boyfriend. They have a long affair and her desperate attempts to get either a formal separation of divorce from her husband falls on deaf ears. They are at their wits end and Bywaters decides to do something about it. On a dark evening when Edith is walking with her husband, Bywaters stabs him to death. Edith is charged with murder along with Bywaters and both are found guilty. She claims her innocence right up until the day they are both executed by hanging in 1923. Base on a true story. Written by
I hope to see this film one day. I don't even recall it being released in the U.S.
The Thompson - Bywaters Case of 1922 - 23 was one of the great disgraces of British Justice. Edith Thompson was accused of instigating her boyfriend, Frederick Bywaters, in stabbing her husband Percy on a street in London at night. To his credit, Frederick denied her involvement - he claimed he killed Percy for mistreating Edith. Unfortunately for Edith (a woman with a big imagination) letters she wrote to Bywaters were preserved by him, and they suggested that she had tried to poison Percy on several occasions. Problem was that the crown pathologist, Sir Bernard Spilsbury, never found traces of the so-called poisons. The solution by the prosecution: ignore Sir Bernard (normally trotted out at every major criminal prosecution at the time) and concentrate on the evidence that Edith and Frederic were committing adultery. Although ably defended by Sir Henry Curtis Bennett, Edith made the mistake of going into the witness box, and she suddenly panicked inside it. It sank whatever chances she had. The jury found her and Frederick guilty, and they were executed.
The judge at the trial, Mr. Justice Shearman, had been junior to Edward Marshall Hall in defending the notorious wife murderer George Joseph Smith, and yet he made comments about how sickened he was by Ms Thompson - more sick than at any other killer he came across. The prosecutor was Sir Thomas Inskip. Whatever one says of his ability in railroading Mrs. Thompson, Inskip would mis-serve his country in the late 1930s when he purposely slowed down the rearmament programs of the Baldwin and Chamberlain governments in the face of growing Nazi aggression. These two were the defenders of English hearth and home in this case.
The play A PIN TO SEE A PEEP SHOW is based on a novel by F. Tennyson Jesse, an noted criminal historian (and descendant of the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson). It is a retelling of the Thompson tragedy.
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