A Woman in Grey is based on a very creaky melodramatic Victorian novel of the same name by A.M. and C.N. Williamson (1898). It is sometimes described as one of the last "adult" serials but the term "adult" here is distinctly relative. Pretty is a doughty heroine but it is really the silliest nonsense imaginable, endlessly repetitive (just try and count the times you see the same wretched "secret passage"), hopelessly illogical completely without humour and with a degree of sadistic violence that is completely at odds with the supposed motives of the characters involved. A man who wants to get a girl to decipher a code for him spends most of his time throwing her off cliffs and bridges and chucking her out of windows. A man who supposedly loves her hands her over to a pair of highly implausible sadistic serial killers....
There is not much mystery to the serial except for the entirely unexplained madman who makes an appearance in one episode (the solution is readily guessable more or less from the outset) but there is a profound mystery surrounding the US serial film in general What was it in US cinematic practice (and it may very well have something to do with the influence of Griffith) that made it impossible, however many serials were churned out, for the US to make anything that came even remotely close to the charm and magic of the great French serials of Feuillade? In the posh little English town of Bath, Charles Norris Williamson died this same year - probably from shame.
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