This fabulous film – broadcast on Talking Pictures – is (should be more…) famous for its last shot, a 1st-person POV shot of someone dying! Yes, really! You see the light fading until it just makes a little red circle in the middle… and then it’s: THE END.
Made by Cineguild – a brief British United Artists-style production outfit in the 40s – it was supposed to be a big-budget version of the period melodramas popularised by Gainsborough (The Wicked Lady, 1945) – except in glorious Technicolor! It was shot by the dream team (presumably in sequence, not at the same time) of Guy Green (who had just won an Oscar in 1947 for Great Expectations, later a not-very-good director of The Magus, 1968, etc) and Geoffrey Unsworth (who stayed a DP and later shot 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968, and Tess, 1979).
It was produced by Anthony Havelock-Allan, best remembered for 4 David Lean movies. (And in fact DL would contribute a film to this Victorian-murder sequence with the excellent Madeleine, 1950 – tho in b&w.) AH-A intended the film to be a present for its leading lady – and his wife – Valerie Hobson, who 4 years previously had given birth to a son with Down’s Syndrome. As shown in The Spy In Black (1939) and Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Hobson’s got ‘it’ (no Choice involved). Her finest role came, however, in real life when – having divorced AH-A, she married John Profumo! (But that’s another…)
Alongside VH – the upwardly mobile governess – is the biggest British star of the day, Stewart Granger, who’s great when he’s playing nasty, as the resentful and (ultimately) murderous stable manager of the Furies… And also such Brit mainstays as Michael Gough (later Alfred for Tim Burton) and Maurice Denham (The Day Of The Jackal, 1973, etc).
It was based on a novel by ‘Joseph Shearing’, who was actually a woman, Margaret Campbell, who also wrote the novel of Under Capricorn, among (under various pseudonyms) 150 others…
It was adapted by Audrey Lindop (also known as Audrey Erskine-Lindop) and – one of only 2 credits, with Great Expectations – Cecil McGivern.
As director, they brought over – a touch of class – a French director, Marc Allegret, whose fame as a film director has been eclipsed by his youthful association with Andre Gide. Marc’s younger brother, Yves, directed (also in 1948) Un Si Jolie Petite Plage, an unforgettable film-noir seaside nightmare starring Gerard Philipe, which was – believe it or not – the kind of film BBC2 still screened in the 80s…
Blanche Fury was the sort of film broadcast on Channel 4 on 25 April 2003, when – by complete chance, as the rain poured down – I put it on after my wife had come home from hospital, having that afternoon given birth to our son Alex… I’ve never forgotten it.