Franchise Affair, The (1951)

UK / 87 minutes / bw / Associated British Dir: Lawrence Huntington Pr: Robert Hall Scr: Robert Hall, Lawrence Huntington Story: The Franchise Affair (1948) by Josephine Tey Cine: Günther Krampf Cast: Michael Denison, Dulcie Gray, Anthony Nicholls, Marjorie Fielding, Athene Seyler, John Bailey, Hy Hazell, Kenneth More, Avice Landone, Maureen Glynne, Peter Jones, Moultrie Kelsall, Ann Stephens, Martin Boddey, John Forrest, Patrick Troughton, Victor Maddern.

Franchise Affair - 0 opener

Made at Elstree, a good adaptation of Tey’s famous novel about the rapid descent of the apparently amiable inhabitants of a sleepy rural town into lynch-mob, witch-hunting mentality. The movie itself is styled to reflect this theme, outwardly having many of the genial trappings of a “cozy” mystery while having at its heart a very steely message indeed.

Teenaged schoolgirl Betty Kane (Stephens) goes missing after visiting an aunt, and turns up a couple of weeks later at her adoptive parents’ home having clearly been beaten. She claims that she spent the intervening period as prisoner of spinster Marion Sharpe (Gray) and her elderly mother (Fielding) at The Franchise, a gloomy old manor on the outskirts of the small town of Melford, somewhere in the Continue reading

I Thank a Fool (1962)

UK / 100 minutes / color / Eaton, MGM Dir: Robert Stevens Pr: Anatole de Grunwald Scr: Karl Tunberg Story: I Thank a Fool (1958) by Audrey Erskine Lindop Cine: Harry Waxman Cast: Susan Hayward, Peter Finch, Diane Cilento, Cyril Cusack, Kieron Moore, Athene Seyler, J.G. Devlin, Brenda de Banzie.

In Liverpool, largely thanks to the efforts of obnoxious prosecutor Stephen Dane (Finch), Canadian Dr. Christine Allison (Hayward) is found guilty of manslaughter for the mercy killing, by drug overdose, of her patient and adulterous lover, Benson (uncredited). Two years later she’s released from prison and, stripped of her medical credentials, does her best to find a job—any job. Even under her phony new name, Christine Garden, she can find no takers.

She’s in despair when suddenly she receives a mysterious phonecall offering her a job as a nurse. Obediently, she goes to the designated rendezvous where she’s met by dotty Miss Chandler (Seyler)—Aunt Heather—who erratically drives her out of town to meet her new employer . . . who proves to be Stephen Dane, the man who got her sent down.

Christine’s patient is Stephen’s wife Liane (Cilento), who’s been suffering mental difficulties—schizophrenia, Christine eventually concludes—ever since she was involved in a terrible car crash, in which her father died, near her Irish hometown of Caragh. Liane seems to be getting iller and iller, whatever Christine tries to do, and it’s evident that most of the people involved—Christine herself excepted but including the Danes’s studly Irish stableboy Roscoe (Moore), who’s possibly Liane’s lover—are often lying through their teeth about what’s going on.

I Thank a Fool - Liane hypnotized by a spinning sawbladeLiane (Diane Cilento) is hypnotized at sight of a spinning saw-blade.

For most of the movie we’re convinced that Continue reading