Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Place Of One's Own (1945)

Starring Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, Barbara Mullen, Dennis Price, Helen Haye
Directed by Bernard Knowles
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A retiree and his wife invest in a beautiful estate, but discover afterward that their new home is haunted, and its ghost has taken possession of a young woman they've hired.

Despite a refined cast which includes Lockwood, Mason, Price, and even Ernest Thesiger in a small but pivotal role, the film falls short of becoming a memorable ghost story due to an overemphasis on advancing the plot through dialogue, and a lack of imagination in the film's photography and direction.  While the movie looks crisp and the set decorations do capture the period well, there's no hint of menace using shadow or any effort to create chills through staging or via eerie notes on the soundtrack.  It's not a badly written film, based on a novel by Osbert Sitwell, who apparently collaborated with screenwriter Brock Williams, but when the most exciting scene in the movie is Price driving Lockwood around a circular path in a motorcar, there's clearly a need for something more dynamic.  One compensation in that regard is the presence of Mason, who although oddly cast as an aged retiree despite being still under 40 at the time of the film's release, gives the most watchable performance, bringing the character of a charming but occasionally fiery Scottish gentleman to life.

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