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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Madeleine (1950)

The unmarried daughter (Ann Todd, SEVENTH VEIL) of a wealthy family in 1850's Scotland is carrying on an illicit affair with her penniless French lover (Ivan Desny). But when she attempts to break off the affair, he threatens her with blackmail by revealing her compromising love letters to her father. When the lover dies of arsenic poisoning, she is arrested for his murder. Based on a true story and the sensational murder trial of Madeleine Smith, David Lean doesn't appear to have the talent for suspense or mystery. Perhaps that's not what he was interested in but the film remains vaguely unsatisfying. The Smith verdict was "not proven", apparently a verdict indigenous only to Scottish law, and Todd's enigmatic performance doesn't reveal anything regarding her guilt or innocence. Todd (who was Lean's wife at the time) at 40 is rather matronly to be playing the young Madeleine who was only 22 at the time of the murder trial. Guy Green did the cinematography, William Alwyn the score and Todd's handsome frocks by Margaret Furse. With Elizabeth Sellars, Norman Wooland, Leslie Banks, Barry Jones, Andre Morell and Anthony Newley.

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