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THE WICKED LADY, 1945
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  MOVIE POSTERTHE WICKED LADY, 1945
Movie Reviews

Director: Leslie Arliss

Stars: Margaret Lockwood, James Mason and Patricia Roc

Review by Russell Hill

SYNOPSIS:

The wife of a nobleman decides to become a highwayman. However, her identity is soon uncovered by a romantic admirer.

REVIEW:

The British film industry has always amused me. The UK once had the opportunity to become an equivalent of Hollywood long before any film studios were built in sunny California but a government minister thought that there was no future in ‘moving pictures'. The UK has made some god-awful films in its time but, then again, that is true of any country. The Wicked Lady does certainly not hold that title because it is an absolute classic and set a benchmark for future British films which empowered women.

Made by the Gainsborough film studio which was infamous for its period costume films, The Wicked Lady tells the story of an upcoming wedding which is happening for a member of the aristocracy. Caroline (Roc) invites her friend Barbara (Lockwood) to the wedding along with many others. Caroline is a meek creature whereas Barbara is the opposite. A hell raiser, she is single and intends to marry one of the noblemen, who are at the wedding, in order to get land and money.

After achieving her goal, Barbara does not suit to her new role of living in the countryside. And what is her answer? To become a highwayman. She's inspired to turn to a life of crime after hearing about Captain Jackson (Mason) and Barbara starts to impersonate him. Wearing the same clothes as he does, Barbara is very good at robbing coaches. However, she soon meets the real Captain Jackson and they fall madly in love. Joining forces, they begin to rob coaches together. Will their life of crime be stopped?

Although the plot might sound tedious when compared to contemporary love stories, The Wicked Lady was a landmark film. Brief Encounter was released in the same year and the female leads couldn't be any different. Lockwood is a brash character who does whatever she wants whereas in David Lean's movie, Celia Johnson is a very nervous person who has to consult her conscience on many occasions.

When The Wicked Lady was released, it amassed an audience of nearly nineteen million. This is an astonishing fact, especially as the film was released barely six months after the end of WW2 when men were still being celebrated for their victory over the Nazi's. What The Wicked Lady showed audiences is that a strong, female character can appear on screen and doesn't have to be a weak figure who has no backbone.

The aforementioned is evident in James Mason's character. A supposed evil person who makes love with any women he meets, he is usurped by Lockwood. Mason delivers an excellent performance as he did in all of his other films but he must have known that, in The Wicked Lady, he was up against another cinematic legend whose performance would be talked about for decades to come.

Despite being made nearly seventy years ago and with a storyline which could have been mocked if it was released ten years later, The Wicked Lady remains a classic black and white film which personifies the term ‘girl power'.

ACTORLeslie Arliss
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORMargaret Lockwood
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORJames Mason
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORPatricia Roc
Best of the ARTIST

ACTORGriffith Jones
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ACTORMichael Rennie
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORFelix Aylmer
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ACTOREnid Stamp-Taylor
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THE WICKED LADY, 1945