HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
We Need to Do Something
Falbalas
Vanguard
A-X-L
Injustice
Bigfoot Hunters
Armitage III: Polymatrix
Girls Nite Out
Moxie!
Five Women for the Killer
Dolce Vita, La
Pig
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
V/H/S/94
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
Demonia
East, The
Mandabi
Seance
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
   
 
Newest Articles
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
   
 
  Man in Grey, The Every Inch The Ruddy Dastard
Year: 1943
Director: Leslie Arliss
Stars: Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, Phyllis Calvert, Stewart Granger, Antony Scott, Martita Hunt, Helen Haye, Beatrice Varley, Raymond Lovell, Nora Swinburne
Genre: Drama, Thriller, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: An auction, and soldier Peter Rokeby (Stewart Granger) has turned up to see if he can buy an old possession of an ancestor of his, whereupon he meets an attractive girl in uniform (Phyllis Calvert) who after some discussion and attempted flirting on his part reveals that she is there because some of her ancestors' possessions are up for sale too - and hers would have known his. What neither of then are aware of is what that relationship back in Regency England would have been, actually the girl has inherited her relation's name of Clarissa (also Calvert), who had a fateful meeting when she was at a finishing school back then. Hester Shaw (Margaret Lockwood) was the person she met who she decided to be friends with - she would have been better not knowing her at all.

The Man in Grey holds an interesting position in the history of British film. For a start, it cemented the idea that Brits loved to watch stories featuring their history, be that in adventures or romances or many more categories, so you can trace a line from this massive hit to the likes of Hammer Horror and television serials like Poldark all the way to the present day. Gainsborough was the studio that produced it, which famously had a woman in full corseted and primped get-up simpering and nodding politely at the camera for its logo, but audiences were showing up to see their melodramas so such embodiments of gentle femininity would be defiled, trampled, and altogether badly treated by cads and women of no virtue, all for their entertainment.

Lockwood was often the wicked lady in these, and indeed starred in a following film called The Wicked Lady, this genre making her a huge star for a short amount of time, as the Gainsborough strain of historical romances with their treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen ethos would not prove lasting at the box office in themselves, leaving others to adapt and take up the baton to provide variations that stayed a draw for the domestic crowd. James Mason, too, was in this, as an absolute bounder who marries poor, pure Clarissa merely so she can give him heirs, and here was the role that similarly made him a superstar, nicknamed The Man You Love to Hate. He, of course, wasn't interested in this sort of thing and did them solely for the money and exposure, but nobody said a star had to like the roles that they were particularly adept at.

The Man in Grey was what was commonly termed in the parlance of the day a bodice-ripper, where you were never five minutes away from a heaving bosom or a rakish scoundrel sweeping the owners of the heaving bosoms off their feet. Its attitude to women was, shall we say, complicated, aimed at them in their wartime dejection to offer plenty to take their minds off the conflict for a couple of hours, encouraging its female characters in their own agency in their stories, even to the extent of the bad girls like Hester, but once they go too far it was time to take out the horsewhip and put them in their places. This example also had a young boy slave as an important character, who has often been identified as a white kid in blackface, but he was actually Antony Scott, son of one of the minstrel team of Scott and Whaley.

They were African American entertainers who made it big in Britain (they even had their own film, a first for black stars in Britain), it was just that the child seemed to be slathered in dark makeup because he was not judged black skinned enough. There were also racial insults used on a couple of occasions, though at least slavery was acknowledged, not often the case in ostensibly escapist period drama. But in the main it was the central quartet that we were asked to alternately sympathise with or boo and hiss, and the curious mechanics of having a viewer get on characters' sides by having them suffer as much as possible was very much in evidence here. Granger was the roguish nice guy, Mason the roguish not-so-nice guy who nevertheless administers justice by the finale, and they were inarguably charismatic, while Calvert made more of her good girl role than you might expect, but it was Lockwood as the fairly complex social climber with high malevolence factor who was the big draw, Mason fans aside. Overall, this certainly makes a meal of things, and looks sadistically camp now, but if you can make allowances for the era the stars do have a magnetism about them. Music by Cedric Malleby.

[Network's Blu-ray of this title in The British Film has the trailer, a vintage Mason documentary and an image gallery as extras (beware of spoilers in all three!).]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 614 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: