In 1850s England, poor but genteel Blanche is offered the post of governess to her uncle’s granddaughter at his estate, Clare Hall. The property’s ownership history is complicated and stableman Philip Thorn, the illegitimate son of the previous owner, has designs on it. With a view to becoming lady of the manor, Blanch marries her cousin Laurence Fury. However, she also begins an affair with Philip, who hatches a murderous plan to put himself first in the line of succession … The gothic thriller received high praise for its restrained mode of colour design – “The realism of the color photography is often breathtaking in its beauty” (New York Times, 1948). Under a grey sky and in gloomy interiors, the “dazzle effect” of passion is marked with bright red, highlighting both Blanche’s bed and the dress she wears on the night of her assignation with Philip, at the end of which hate consumes him. The same red defines the scarf Philip wears as a mask during his crime, the robe of the judge who sentences him, and most tellingly, the fog that signals the dimming of Blanche’s consciousness at the beginning and end of the film.
by Marc Allégret
with Stewart Granger, Valerie Hobson, Walter Fitzgerald
United Kingdom 1947