In Victorian London, Adalaide Culver (Maureen O'Hara, loves and marries an art teacher Gilbert Lauderdale (Dana Andrews) and lives in poverty with him until he dies in an accident. A street harridan known as The Sow (Sybil Thorndike) blackmails Adalaide, claiming she is a murderer. A young barrister, Henry Lambert (Dana Andrews) , who looks like her late husband, comes along with legal advice. It must have been good advice, as later they fall in love and devise a puppet show that is a big success, and that brings Adalaide to a reunion with her estranged family and marriage to the man who looks like her deceased husband.Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According to a biography of star Dana Andrews, he was very upset that after carefully cultivating the appropriate English accent for his role as the artist, his voice was then "looped" by an English actor (for the British prints only; in the prints for the U.S. and foreign markets outside the British Commonwealth Andrews's voice is his own) whose identity the studio refused to reveal, and who remains a mystery to this day. This was done in an effort to give to British audiences a more accurate accent for someone who would have lived in the mews. However, Andrews, critics, and audiences alike felt it was an inferior performance and obvious job of dubbing. See more »
As a ten year old kid, I saw this film in 1949 under its U.S. title THE FORBIDDEN STREET (it was not a title later made up for any kind of re-release on VHS or DVD, although it did come out as BRITANNIA MEWS in the U.K.). We got a big kick out of Mrs. Mounsey (we then thought it was "Mrs. Mousey"), especially when the second Dana Andrews character slaps her around a bit and practically throws her onto what looked like either a stove or dresser, but even then I knew who Dame Sybil Thorndike was, and it appears that some reviewers of this film still don't. All the other performances in the film range from just about okay to pretty good, but Thorndike's old hag is really a showcase, considering how short her role ultimately is. One should be reminded that Thorndike (and not Edith Evans, Peggy Ashcroft, Margaret Rutherford, Margaret Leighton, Dorothy Tutin, etc.) was considered the greatest English stage actress of the 20th century from her debut around 1904 and right into the early 1970s, created Shaw's SAINT JOAN after he wrote it for her, did quite literally many hundreds of roles from Shakespeare and Marlowe to Priestly and Williams in the U.K., all over America and, indeed, almost the entire known civilized world of her day (who else can you think of who played Lady Macbeth, Hecuba and one of the sweetly murderous Brewster Sisters in ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, or who took shots at Greek drama in Greek and French classical repertoire in French?). She was almost 50 when talkies came in, so she naturally didn't make many films except in older character roles (she was Olivier's mother in PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL, but that role was originally Olivier's wife when the play was done with him and Vivien Leigh in London, and this probably remains her best-known film appearance). As for Dana Andrews, they did a good job of dubbing in his voice with one belonging to an English actor, but the voice really didn't go with Andrews' demeanor and character. His second character has the right voice (his own) for that first character. Anyway, the mid-Atlantic type accents heard from O'Hara and Andrews didn't bother me at all, and the fellow playing O'Hara's younger brother, Anthony Tancred, would appear to have had a very short film career, and this is unfortunate, as he is very good in the role and looks something like a taller and classier version of George Cole. Amazingly enough, they get away with turning a pretty morose and near tragic story into almost a comedy by the time the curtain comes down, and that is no mean achievement. Anyway, it was nice to see it again after 67 years and to see that memory can play tricks on one - I seemed to recall that the second Andrews character threw Mrs. Mounsey down the stairs, but he didn't. Good thing, too; that's no way to treat Dame Sybil Thorndike. Aside: Thorndike was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1931, but her husband, equally proficient actor and incredibly proficient stage director Lewis Casson, wasn't knighted until almost two decades later. She was delighted because now she could be legitimately called either "Dame Sybil" or "Lady Casson".
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