UK / GFD – Gainsborough / 102 minutes / 1947
Writers: Dorothy Christie, Campbell Christie, Geoffrey Kerr, from the novel by Norah Lofts / Cinematography: Geoffrey Unsworth / Costumes: Elizabeth Haffenden / Music: Henry Geehl / Producer: Sydney Box / Director: Bernard Knowles
Cast: Margaret Lockwood, Patricia Roc, Dennis Price, Basil Sydney, Dermot Walsh, Cathleen Nesbitt, Linden Travers, Nora Swinburne
This flamboyant Gainsborough melodrama was firmly in the tradition of the genre of British costume pictures exemplified by such films as The Man in Grey and The Wicked Lady, and, noted the Evening Standard, “As a piece of unabashed romantic hoodlum, I found it more and more diverting as the plot thickened.”
Certainly the screenplay, by Dorothy and Campbell Christie and Geoffrey Kerr, and based on the novel by Norah Lofts, provided a heady brew of romance and dark deeds that was as baroque as the Jacobean manor of Mordelaine, the focus of the proceedings. And they also provided an archetypal role – splendidly taken – for Margaret Lockwood, then at the height of her box office popularity.
She plays Jassy Woodroffe, a young gypsy girl with the gift of second sight who is saved by Dermot Walsh from a ducking by villagers, who have accused her of witchcraft. Taken in by Walsh and his family, she rises from maid-of-all-work to mistress of Mordelaine, where she marries villainous gambler Basil Sydney as part of her scheme to return Mordelaine to its rightful owner, Walsh. And she ends up accused of murder…
A sign of the intent of the movie was that it was filmed in colour, highly unusual for a British film of the period.