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  Blanche Fury One Of The Family
Year: 1948
Director: Marc Allégret
Stars: Valerie Hobson, Stewart Granger, Michael Gough, Walter Fitzgerald, Susanne Gibbs, Maurice Denham, Sybille Binder, Ernest Jay, Townsend Whitling, J.H. Roberts, Allan Jeayes, Edward Lexy, Arthur Wontner, Amy Veness, Cherry London, George Woodbridge
Genre: Drama, Thriller, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Blanche Fury (Valerie Hobson) lies in a fever of childbirth as the doctor rushes into the bedroom and sees to delivering the baby, but it's too much for the mother and she drifts in and out of consciousness. As she grows delirious, she remembers how she was brought to this country mansion and the terrible events that happened here. She was actually Blanche Fuller, a carer for elderly matriarchs who would frequently sack her for her willfullness, but one day she received a letter from distant relatives informing her that they would like to bring her to their home now her parents had died, ostensibly to be a governess to her niece - but the family had other plans...

When this film was first released, it was part of a series of torrid melodramas, often set during Victorian times, that flooded the British cinema market, catering to a fair few of the female audience who wished to see strong women represented on film. Part of this was due to the popularity of American counterparts, most famously Gone With the Wind, but there was also a degree of the wartime experiences of the women left behind as the men went off fighting, offering them more power than had been the case previously, and setting the scene for the women's liberation movement of later decades.

So with all those ladies proving themselves as capable as the men in real life, naturally they would want to see that kind of character in their entertainment, even if many of those characters found themselves tied to the men in their worlds. As it was, Blanche Fury was somewhat lost in the barrage of such stories, yet it did endure further than some of its contemporaries, possibly because it was shot in colour and therefore more attractive to black and white-shunning television stations looking for afternoon or early morning filler. That colour was rich but dour, and the same could have been said of the plot, which sees schemer Blanche meet her match in the estate's steward, Philip Thorn (Stewart Granger, no stranger to this style).

In fact, if it were not for us seeing how kindly Blanche treated the little girl she was hired to look after, Lavinia (Susanne Gibbs), we would be suspicious of everything the governess got up to, as she is an icy sort otherwise, more determined to increase her standing and funds than she is to adhere to the standards of decency expected of Victorian ladies. The Fury family turn out not to be Furys at all, having by some obscure marriage arrangement inherited the rights to the House of Clare, a state of affairs which mightily aggrieves Thorn, the bastard son of the original Furies who thanks to his illegitimacy has been, in his eyes, cheated out of what is rightfully his. Nevertheless, the current Furys have kept him on to manage the surroundings, look after the horses, and so forth.

Although from the lack of chemistry between Hobson and Granger you'd be hard pushed to believe it, Blanche and Thorn are attracted to each other, but her cousin Laurence has earmarked her for marriage now his last wife has died, though as he is played by Michael Gough we can tell he's a rum cove and in no way soulmate material. Get married they do, however, and Thorn works out a scheme with Blanche's blessing to kill both Laurence and his father and blaming the crime on the local gypsies who hold a grudge against them, thus freeing the estate into his grasping hands. It must be said, this is an extremely bloodthirsty film, yet its lack of passion may not make you realise this until the end and you notice how many of the characters have been killed in it. In spite of some opinions, it isn't really classic forties costume melodrama, but its grim sense of purpose does render it distinctive, as does its final shot representing death, passing from this realm to... somewhere. Music by Clifton Parker.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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