Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Madeleine (1950). Based on a True Story.

Madeleine(1950) Directed by David Lean, based on a true story about Madeleine Smith, a young woman from a wealthy family who was tried in 1857 for the murder of her lover, Emile L'Angelier. The trial was "the trial of the century." Lean's adaptation of the story stars his then wife, Ann Todd with Ivan Desny as her French lover. Norman Wooland played the suitor, and Leslie Banks the father, who are both unaware of Madeleine's secret life.

The film begins with the purchase of a house in Glasgow by a well to do Victorian family. Their daughter, Madeleine, picks the bedroom in the basement. Here she will be able to secretly entertain her lover, Frenchman Emile L'Angelier.

It is not long before the couple becomes secretly engaged and L'Angelier asks Madeleine to tell her father so that they can marry. Madeleine, frightened of her father,  visits L'Angelier to say that she will run away with him. L'Angelier, says that he could never marry her in this way, and Madeleine realises that he does not love her for herself. She breaks off their relationship and asks him to send her letters back.

Madeleine's father has been encouraging her to accept the wealthy, William Minnoch, marriage proposal. L'Angelier, threatens to show her father the letters unless she continues to see him, Madeleine agrees.

Some weeks later, L'Angelier becomes ill, although he recovers, he later has another attack of the same illness and this time dies from arsenic poisoning.  L'Angelier's friend, points the finger at Madeleine, who is found to have had arsenic in her possession .

The remainder of the film covers the court case, at the end of which the jury bring the verdict.

The camera-work in this film is amazing, especially in the low camera angle on a closeup of the bottle of poison to make it menacing, while a girl sings a song about the death of a bird. I really did not see the chemistry between Madeleine and her two lovers, which makes it difficult to pick sides. Although.. I still think that the film is worth viewing.

Dorothy Anne Todd (24 January 1909, – 6 May 1993). Performed in films:  Perfect Strangers (1945), The Seventh Veil (1945). She maybe best known as Gregory Peck's wife in, Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947). She later produced a series of travel films. Todd was known as the "Pocket Garbo". She married director Lean in 1949 and starred in his films, The Passionate Friends (1949), Madeleine (1950) and The Sound Barrier (1952).

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