is important in a marriage, even if you are a gold-digging adventurer. Just ask
Edward “Teddy” Bare. Upon learning his much older, richer wife was about to
sign a new will, he helped the old dear to her eternal rest. Alas, the dearly
departed Monica “Mony” Bare wanted to cut him in rather than out of the money.
Bare finds himself in a tight financial spot, but he assumes his smarmy charm
will continue to provide in Lewis Gilbert’s digitally restored British noir, Cast a Dark Shadow (trailer here), which screens during the
2016 San Francisco International Film Festival.
no gentleman, that’s for sure. Therefore, Mony’s snobby attorney Phillip
Mortimer immediately suspects he staged her accident, which of course he did. Inconveniently,
he stands to inherit dashed little under the terms of the original will. To
make matters worse, he seems to have had a genuine affection for his late wife.
In fact, his du Maurier-esque devotion to her memory will further complicate
his second marriage to Freda Jeffries.
is no Mony, that’s equally clear. She got her money marrying-up and she aims to
keep it. Yet, despite her street-smarts, she fell for Bare and she is still swoony
for him, in her own tough-talking way. When Bare befriends yet another single
lady of means, it brings out her jealous nature. However, Bare will not let
that deter him from Charlotte Young’s money.
It is rather baffling that Shadow is not more universally and volubly beloved by film noir
fans, because it is a nifty little Deathtrap-style
thriller. John Cresswell’s adaptation of the stage play Murder Mistaken by Janet Green (who would later serve as
screenwriter on several of Dirk Bogarde’s “social issue” films) keeps the basic
six-character, one-set structure, but opens it up a little. As a result, we get
a night club scene featuring former Ted Heath band vocalist Lita Roza’s sly,
swinging rendition of “Leave Me Alone.”
Bogarde played plenty of sociopaths in his
career, but few were as sleazy good fun as Teddy Bare. He is clearly all kinds
of off, but still perversely charismatic. Yet, Margaret Lockwood constantly
calls and raises him as the brassy Jeffries. Mona Washbourne is indeed naively
charming as dear old Mony, but Kathleen Harrison is a little cringey as Emmie,
the easily manipulated housekeeper.
Jack Asher (who would become a regular early Hammer Horror cinematographer)
gives it a wonderfully sinister noir look that should delight genre fans. Every
piece of bric-a-brac perfectly sets the mood and gives us the right sense of
place. Again, it just seems bizarre Cast
a Dark Shadow does not get more love from the noir establishment. Highly
recommended for anyone who appreciates classic cinema, it screens Saturday
(4/23) and Sunday (4/24) during this year’s SFIFF.
Labels: British Cinema, Dirk Bogarde, Film Noir, SFIFF '16