Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Love from a Stranger - 1937 film review

Love from a Stranger is a 1937 crime film, and a very interesting one too. For a start, it's based on a story by Agatha Christie - "Philomel Cottage". Christie adapted it for the stage, but a more renowned theatrical version was written by the actor, director and playwright Frank Vosper. His play had a very good run in the West End, though it didn't do so well on Broadway. His mysterious death by drowning in 1937 is discussed in The Golden Age of Murder.

1937 also saw the release of this film version of his script. Carol Howard (played by an American actress, Ann Harding, in a slightly odd piece of casting) and her friend Kate (Binnie Hale) lead a humdrum and fairly impoverished life in London, but Carol's bloke, Ronnie (Bruce Seton) is due to return from years working in Africa. Then Carol wins the French lottery...

Her life changes in many ways. Above all, she ditches dear old Ronnie in favour of a suave chap who comes to look round her flat when she puts it on the market. The new beau is played by Basil Rathbone, and although the script eventually requires him to ham things up a bit, he brings his customary chaiisma to the role, as well as, eventually, a good deal of menace.

But this film also offers a special treat, undreamed of when it was made. Carol's maid, the extremely stupid Emmy, is played by Joan Hickson. Yes, the future Miss Marple makes an early film appearance, in a smallish but striking part. I very much enjoyed seeing this. All in all, it's still good entertainment. Yes, we can guess what's coming, but it's nicely done, all the same.

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