Saturday, 22 March 2014

There Was a Young Lady.

British film director, screenwriter and producer Lawrence Huntington had worked on crime thrillers, a musical, melodrama and farce in the 1930’s and had ‘A’ film experience in the 1940’s but surprisingly slipped to the bottom half of the double bill in the 1950’s to skilfully direct some grand second features. One of these was There Was a Young Lady (1953) a comedy, which he was also responsible for adapting, based on an original story by Vernon Harris and John Jowett.

Produced by Ernest G Roy at the Nettlefold Studies for Butchers Film Services the film opens when we witness two men striking a deal in a London street for the purchase of a diamond engagement ring. David Walsh (Michael Denison), a diamond merchant, returns to his office to face his secretary Elizabeth Foster (the wonderful Dulcie Gray) who immediately points out that the ring he paid  £25 for is not a diamond at all but paste! After a steaming row Elizabeth resigns leaving the incompetent Walsh to run his inherited business on his own except for Irene the typist (played by a very young Geraldine McEwan in her debut feature film) who has a ‘fancy’ for her boss and see’s Elizabeth’s departure as her opening. Meanwhile the ex secretary gets entangled with a smash and grab raid on a jewellers shop. When the gang realise that she has seen their faces they kidnap her and transport her to a large country house whose caretaker is an Uncle one of the gang and has allowed them to stay there while the owners are away. The gang consists of leader Sydney Tafler and henchmen Robert Adair, Bill Owen and character actor Charles Farrell. Except for Tafler all the others treat her with respect, but she has to stay with them until after the next robbery when they will debunk with their ill-gotten gains to somewhere abroad. She does however try to effect an escape, but to no avail, so settles to helping with the cooking and cleaning and telling the gang where they are going wrong with their smash and grab raids!

Huntington has produced a clever script with some great lines. A movie that transports the viewer back to the prime and proper world of 1950’s British comedy where the heroine is tough, the villains are not nasty and the hero gets his girl in the end. A great cast with husband and wife team of Dulcie Gray and Michael Denison outstanding. There is also a small role for Kenneth Conner who became a well-known face in the ‘Carry On’ films. Although the ending is a little trite, and probably one coincidence to many, it is highly recommended and another film well worth dragging out of the discarded B-movie bin by Renown Pictures.

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