Sunday, May 11, 2008

Percy & Denham: "Why Does God Always Take Pity On The Wicked?"

"Louisa Creed: I hate the dark. It frightens me.

Sister Theresa: It shouldn't, my dear. Don't you believe we're watched over?

Louisa Creed: Oh yes. But I'm never quite sure who's watching us.

Ellen Creed: Hell is like the kingdom of Heaven. It's within."

- Edward Percy & Reginald Denham, (LADIES IN RETIREMENT,1941). "Based on a famous murder case which took place at the end of the last century, this play has become one of the most successful and most frequently performed in the modern repertoire. An eerie atmosphere of mystery is evoked in a dark, lonely house on the marshes of the Thames estuary. The characters, presented with great psychological realism and the strong vein of earthy comedy invest the play with a liveliness unusual for such a genuinely horrifying murder play.

Adapted for the screen in 1941, directed by Charles Vidor (King's brother) and starring Ida Lupino, the New York Times described the film as “an exercise in slowly accumulating terror,” This comes mainly from George Barnes’s moody camerawork and the solid acting of the principal cast. Top honors go to Ida Lupino, a bold and strong-minded actress who became a prolific film and TV director in her own right starting in the late 1940s. Although in the stage version Ellen was sixty years old, Vidor gambled that 23-year old Lupino could look 40 with the right makeup and strong lighting to wash the softness from her face. It worked. Lupino seems almost ageless in the part, playing Ellen as a tightly coiled bundle of nerves, seething with determination beneath her generally calm appearance."-by Mikita Brottman and David Sterritt (Turner Classic Movies Review). Image: Ida Lupino, Publicity Shot, 1940s.

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