Friday, 25 July 2014
THE BLIND GODDESS (1948)
Derek Waterhouse (Michael Denison) learns from a friend (subsequently murdered) that his employer Lord Brasted (Hugh Williams) has embezzed thousands of pounds intended for post-war relief efforts. He confronts Brasted who, while denying the allegation, offers his Secretary a ‘present’ of £10,000 pounds and employment abroad.
Waterhouse refuses and Brasted, seeing Waterhouse has no proof, takes him to court in an attempt to discredit and ultimately destroy him. Brasted is urged on by his wife, Lady Brasted (Anne Crawford), who’s in fact a former lover of Waterhouse and who turns out to be something less than a lady.
‘The Blind Goddess’ though based on a play by Patrick Hastings manages to avoid any obvious theatricality - thanks to a script by Sydney and Muriel Box that while wordy is not talky; also to the dexterous direction by Harold French ('The Hour of 13’ 1952, ‘The Paris Express’ 1952, Forbidden Cargo’ 1954).
The little-known Brit-noir is rich with wonderful lead and supporting performances, among them those of Eric Portman as John Dearing KC who serves as Brasted’s attorney and Claire Bloom as Dearing’s daughter, Mary. Bloom is luminous in her first film role. Anne Crawford as the treacherous opportunist Lady Brasted is also a standout.
The full weight of this noir melodrama is felt particularly in the film’s tense courtroom scenes. However, not all is revealed there as evidence continues to be gathered and as momentum begins first to shift outside of court. The film’s narrative build-out is deft and disciplined and for that clearly does owe something to the play.
‘The Blind Goddess’ is a splendid British film noir. At one time or other, it showed on BBC Channel Four but needs to find commercial re-issue on DVD to really get the attention it deserves.
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