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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Queen Of Spades (1949)

In 1806 Russia, a soldier (Anton Walbrook) from a working class background feels his fellow soldiers who come from the aristocracy don't accept him. When he hears that an aged Countess (Edith Evans making her film debut at the age of 60) has reputedly sold her soul to the Devil to get the secret of winning at cards, he plots to get the secret from her. Based on the short story by Alexander Pushkin and directed by Thorold Dickinson (the 1940 British GASLIGHT). The film deals with the supernatural and some consider it a horror story but if it is, it's a very subtle one and of the psychological kind. This is the kind of role Walbrook was made for and he doesn't disappoint. He positively oozes psychotic malevolence. Dickinson takes his time in setting it up and the atmosphere soon becomes toxic the nearer Walbrook gets to executing his plan. One of the seminal post war British films, I'm surprised that so few film fans have seen it and its reputation can only grow as more catch up with it. With Yvonne Mitchell (also in her film debut), Ronald Howard (looking eerily like his father Leslie), Anthony Dawson, Michael Medwin and Athene Seyler.

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