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Eclipse 36: Three Wicked Melodramas from Gainsborough Pictures: The Man in Grey, Madonna of the Seven Moons, The Wicked Lady (Criterion Collection)
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THREE DVD BOX SET INCLUDES:
THE MAN IN GREY This tale of treachery put both the Gainsborough melodrama and actor James Mason on the map. The star-to-be plays Lord Rohan, a cruel nobleman who marries the naive and sweet-natured Clarissa (Phyllis Calvert) for the sole purpose of producing an heir; meanwhile, Clarissa’s conniving best friend, Hesther (Margaret Lockwood), secretly plots against her for her own nefarious ends. The Man in Grey, directed by Leslie Arliss (The Wicked Lady), was such a box-office success that Gainsborough used it as a template, launching a cycle of increasingly rococo films. 1943
MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS
A lurid tale of sex and psychosis, Madonna of the Seven Moons, directed by Arthur Crabtree (Fiend Without a Face), is among the wildest of the Gainsborough melodramas. Set in Italy, it begins as a relatively composed tale about a respectable, convent-raised woman (Phyllis Calvert) who is haunted by the memory of being raped as a teenager. When her grown daughter returns from school, her life begins to crack up in monumentally surprising ways. Stewart Granger also plays a prominent role in this sensational tale. 1945
THE WICKED LADY
Margaret Lockwood devours the screen as a tightly wound seventeenth-century beauty with loose morals, who steals her best friend’s wealthy fiancé on the eve of the wedding. And that’s only the beginning of this piece of pulp from director Leslie Arliss (The Man in Grey): there are no depths to which this sinful woman won’t sink. James Mason costars, and nearly steals the movie, as a highwayman with whom our antiheroine becomes entangled. This nasty, subversive treat was the most commercially successful of all the Gainsborough melodramas. 1945
Top Customer Reviews
THE MAN IN GREY, with its plot which in large part basically recapitulates VANITY FAIR (with especially baroque twists), is the dullest of the three, but had to be included for its path-breaking importance (it made an international star out of James Mason in the title role as a sneering rakehell). Much more fun are the other two in the collection. THE WICKED LADY was the most successful of all the Gainsborough films, and it's immediately evident why: Margaret Lockwood displays all her charms in Restoration décolletage as the thoroughly and enjoyably rotten Lady Barbara Skelton, who disguises herself as a highwayman just for kicks and who seduces her best friend's fiance (and forces the friend to humiliate herself as her bridesmaid) just for spite.Read more ›
The "Man in Grey" was the first, but comparably weakest, of the three films featured here (Gainsborough went on to make many works in this genre). It was however a commercial smash that laid the groundwork for the better films yet to come. The tale also made bigger stars out of the likes of James Mason, Margart Lockwood, Stewart Granger and Phyllis Calvert, and focuses on the repurcussions of a morally bankrupt nobleman who marries a young women, rather openly, only for purposes of gaining an heir. As both husband and wife search for true love in what quickly becomes an open marriage, obvious complications arise as suitors battle over wealth, jealously, and the avoidance of public scandal. The ending performance is fantastic, but overall what was to become known as the "Gainsborough formula" does not quite have all of its hinks worked out of it yet. This film is very watchable in terms of graphics, but it is not quite as cleaned up compared to most Criterion offerings. The audio suffers from being muffled in parts as well. 3 stars ***.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fast shipment, the quality of the product and packaging is excellent.
I looked all over for these old movies and when I saw that I could by them on DVD, I was more than... Read more
Each of these three sparklers is a complement to the other two. Here is to dialogue at its richest, plot to its sublimely diabolical (yes, an oxymoron), and to direction and every... Read morePublished 19 months ago by John P. Morris
"Madonna of the Seven Moons" is an example of the psychologically oriented films that started to be made shortly after WWII. Read morePublished on December 31, 2013 by jsk
Stewart was a post-war german teenage idol. He was so very good playing the romantic lead, which made our hearts beat a little faster. Read morePublished on July 11, 2013 by Hannelore P.
All three of these films present famous actors in early roles. James Mason (A Star is Born, the Seventh Veil, etc. Read morePublished on July 6, 2013 by John Feeley
Watch Margaret Lockwood transform! Follow the wild, implausible adventures! You'll never watch a PBS English county-house drama the same way after cruising through these... Read morePublished on February 5, 2013 by John AM
I purchased this set of three movies because they contain some of James Mason's earliest performances. I consider James Mason to be one of the best actors of the last century. Read morePublished on January 4, 2013 by Tony Marquise Jr.
Filmed to appeal to the women home alone while their men were fighting World War II, and introducing James Mason and Stewart Granger to movie audiences, these three melodramas are... Read morePublished on January 3, 2013 by Laura Boyes