6.8/10
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29 user 15 critic

The Wicked Lady (1945)

A noblewoman begins to lead a dangerous double life in order to alleviate her boredom.

Director:

Leslie Arliss

Writers:

Magdalen King-Hall (novel), Leslie Arliss (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Margaret Lockwood ... Barbara
James Mason ... Jackson
Patricia Roc ... Caroline
Griffith Jones ... Sir Ralph
Michael Rennie ... Kit
Felix Aylmer ... Hogarth
Enid Stamp-Taylor ... Lady Kingsclere (as Enid Stamp Taylor)
Francis Lister ... Lord Kingsclere
Beatrice Varley Beatrice Varley ... Aunt Moll
Amy Dalby Amy Dalby ... Aunt Doll
Martita Hunt ... Cousin Agatha
David Horne ... Martin Worth
Emrys Jones ... Ned Cotterill
Helen Goss ... Mistress Betsy
Muriel Aked Muriel Aked ... Mrs. Munce
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Storyline

17th-century beauty Barbara Worth starts her career of crime by stealing her best friend's bridegroom. Her next exploit is to recover gambling losses by donning mask and cloak and taking to the roads as a highwayman! The thrill of these ventures proves addictive...especially when she meets a male highwayman who becomes her lover. Together, the two desperados lead a gay secret life, pursued by the local magistrate Sir Ralph Skelton...Barbara's husband! To what further crimes will the wicked Lady Skelton descend? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Mason meets his match in "The Wicked Lady". (Title lobby card). See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 December 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le masque aux yeux verts See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (BAF Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Valerie White was originally cast in the role of highwayman Capt. Jerry Jackson's doxy. The actress developed appendicitis and Jean Kent took over the part. The first scene in which the character appears, Lockwood breaks into the room and Mason's in bed with her; we only actually see her back, and it is White's back we see. See more »

Goofs

When Barbara and Captain Jack hold up a bullion coach, they do so by blocking a bridge with a tipped-over carriage. When they make their getaway, one of the coachmen gives chase on horseback from the bridge, but the tipped-over coach has now vanished. See more »

Quotes

Caroline: I hate cruelty.
Kit Locksby: That's unusual... in a woman.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The first USA release version differed from the original UK version by substituting footage with higher necklines on some women's costumes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Doctor Who: The Troughton Years (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Love Steals Your Heart
(uncredited)
Music by Hans May
Lyrics by Alan Stranks
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The sexes divided
31 January 2008 | by Igenlode WordsmithSee all my reviews

Judging by the IMDb ratings breakdown for this film, sixty years after its production it remains very much "a women's movie" with female opinion rating it vastly higher than the male across every age group; fascinating to see how the divide still lingers! For my own part, I've always enjoyed the Gainsborough melodramas, and this is probably the best of them thanks to its wonderfully acerbic script.

This style of film is basically the screen equivalent of the classic paperback 'bodice-ripper', with heaving bosoms, witty ripostes and dastardly deeds a-plenty -- which probably accounts for the sex divide. On the other hand, I'd have thought it had a good deal to appeal to the average male viewer... Frankly, I'm not surprised that this picture fell foul of the American censors (a fate shared with various other dramas set in morally dubious eras) in the 1940s: it's not just a matter of the amount of cleavage on display or of the protagonist's flagrantly shocking morals (since these are rewarded in appropriate fashion), but of the racy tinge to a lot of the dialogue.

I think it's the dialogue that makes this film really shine. Where "The Man in Grey" has a tendency to moralise or lumber, "The Wicked Lady" has a sparkling streak of humour almost throughout; watching it in the cinema, you realise for the first time just how many laughs there are as they sweep across the audience. But it also benefits from a galaxy of strong female stars, from the minor parts to the two leading roles: Patricia Roc pulls off the difficult trick of making her gentle, idealistic character both sympathetic and believable when faced with the formidable opposition of Margaret Lockwood's beautiful, amoral Barbara. Barbara as anti-heroine almost takes over the film, and manages to attract our sympathies to the extent that we find ourselves willing her deception of old Hogarth to succeed -- but ultimately she goes too far. Too far for Jerry Jackson, and too far for this viewer at least to feel anything but vicarious satisfaction as her 'bittersweet' ending turns entirely bitter. The Wicked Lady is bad -- bad to the bone.

My main gripe with the film, ironically, is with the happy outcome as shown, after the high emotions and dark ironies that have led up to the finale. I don't hold any grudge against the lovers at all -- it's obvious that all is going to turn out well once the truth is out in the open, and I'm all in favour of their union -- but the way that it is heavy-handedly interjected into the final frames of the picture creates a virtually bathetic anti-climax. That particular outcome really might have been taken for granted, rather than pasted on thickly at precisely the wrong moment...


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