27 FEBRUARY 1948, Page 13


"Blanche Fury." (Odeon.)—" Cry Wolf." (Warner;)

MR. STEWART GRANGER and Miss Valerie Hobson come together in a new Technicolor, Blanche Fury, produced by Mr. Havelock- Allen and directed by M. Marc Allegret. This is a grim story about an obsession entertained by an illegitimate son for his family estate, and I have never seen Mr. Granger better than he is as this proud, embittered man who stops at nothing, not even murder, to reclaim his unlawful yet hereditary possessions. It is certain that Mr. Granger's strength lies in being fierce. When he is gay and debonair he is not so good, whatever his fans may say to the contrary, and in Blanche Fury he is mercifully given no opportunity to be either charming, boyish or brave, whereas he is given ample opportunity to show that he is, after all, an actor. This he takes, and gives a lively full-blooded performance.

Miss Hobson, too, is infinitely better than I have seen her before ; her personality grown stronger, her understanding more subtle and her beauty more arresting. It is unfortunate that the tragedies which beset her, four deaths in rapid succession, are too numerous for the audience to digest, and though she does not disdain to look harrowed, we, glutted by corpses, can but observe rather than participate in her sufferings. It is true that " to every man upon this earth death cometh soon or late," but to the family at Clare Hall it surely comes unreasonably soon and extravagantly often, seeming to lack that moderation we have learned to expect from all Victorian phenomena. The production and colour- photography are admirable, and the plot, though incredible, is well sustained by a supporting cast of fine actors. * * * *

The courage of film heroines passes all understanding. If it didn't of course, many a film would never be made. Had I, for instance, been Miss Barbara Stanwyck in Cry Wolf I should have run from Mr. Errol Flynn's house the very first thing after breakfast to summon the police, for I am not used to hearing ghastly screams in the night, particularly if they issue from a heavily locked labora- tory. Even if I did not suspect my former husband was being tortured, my host was sadistically bullying a young girl and the servants were being paid to keep quiet, one scream would be enough. I would be off, pale and panting, to fetch the nearest cop. But Miss Stanwyck is so steel-gutted and brass-nerved she

determines to solve for herself the mysteries which enshroud the Flynn mansion, and proceeds, in a pair of slacks, to creep up to climb over and peer into matters which should have been attended to ages ago by the legal, medical and security authorities, not to mention the R.S.P.C.C.

Although the story of Cry Wolf is pretty good nonsense when seen from a distance, at close quarters it is sufficiently frightening to seem quite plausible. The suspense is promoted to a large extent by Mr. Franz Waxman's music, which runs like a dark, hysterical thread throughout the picture and is extremely effective. Mr. Peter Godfrey's direction lays emphasis on the eeriness of everyday things, the half-dark staircase, the firelight playing on a door, birds, sur- prised, flying with harsh cries into the trees, as well as the more obvious hair-raisers, and it says much for his work that there are moments of such unbearable uncertainty it is all one can do not to urge Miss Stanwyck out loud to take care.

The acting laurels go to Miss Geraldine Brooks, a rising young star, who brings to the part of an unbalanced, unloved girl great sen- sitiveness and understanding. Mr. Flynn has an unhappy role to fill and, to be truthful, fills it rather unhappily,but Miss Stanwyck, she lioness-hearted, is her usual pleasing self under most unpleasing