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Uncle Silas (GFD 1947, Jean Simmons, Derek Bond)

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Ben Travers, usually associated with farce, made a skilful and atmospheric screen adaptation of the chilling novel by Sheridan Le Fanu and, said To-Day’s Cinema , it ’emerges as a piece of sombre, wholehearted melodrama’.

An ideally-cast Jean Simmons plays a 17-year-old who, on the death of her father in 1890, goes to live with her eponymous uncle Derrick De Marney whom her father always believed was innocent of the murder of which he was accused but later acquitted. Doctor Esmond Knight, however, knows that de Marney is steeped in vice but Simmons finds him to be a kindly old man. She falls in love with aristocrat Derek Bond and soon comes to realise that de Marney, who is in debt, plans to do away with her in order to gain possession of her considerable inheritance. Housekeeper Katina Paxinou and his sinister son Manning Whiley help De Marney in his despicable enterprise. De Marney tries to kill Simmons but mistakenly kills Paxinou.

The storyline may lack credibility but the zest and enthusiasm of Frank’s direction and the gusto with which the players enter into the increasingly lurid spirit of the proceedings add up to an entertaining period chiller. Halliwell stated ‘…slow starting but superbly made period suspenser’.

production details
UK | GFD – Two Cities | 98 minutes | 1947

Director: Charles Frank
Script: Ben Travers, based on the novel by J Sheridan Le Fanu,

cast
Jean Simmons as Caroline Ruthyn
Katina Paxinou as Madame de la Rougierre
Derrick De Marney as Uncle Silas
Derek Bond as Lord Richard Ilbury
Sophie Stewart as Lady Monica Waring
Esmond Knight as Dr. Bryerly
Marjorie Rhodes as Mrs. Rusk
Guy Rolfe as Sepulchre Hawkes
Reginald Tate as Austin Ruthyn
Manning Whiley as Dudley Ruthyn
John Laurie as Giles
Frederick Burtwell as Branston
George Curzon as Sleigh
Patricia Glyn as Mary Quince
O.B. Clarence as Vicar
Frederick Ranalow as Rigg

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