Aloof, rouged and razor cheeked, a would-be heiress but instead reluctant makeshift Governess (Valerie Hobson) arrives at Clare estate to help run the show. Of course, what she’d rather do is be acknowledged as the right and proper family member she is, murder her infuriatingly conciliatory but guarded uncle, his gibbering son and make off with the brooding man in the outhouse brandishing a rifle (Stewart Granger).
Instead, she sighs, buttons up and resigns to marry her uncle’s toothy son so at least she can claim some lineage and acreage. What she doesn’t bank on though is the appeal of Granger’s overly effectual gypsy coal eyes peeping over the top of a bandanna, looking wistfully through the window as she embroiders and sighs some more. The throwing her forcefully against the stable walls versus bone-crushing daming duties element carries some force too, no doubt, in her decision to trust Granger to sew up a few loose ends so he can also claim his right to Clare and they can be together legitimately.
Hobson doesn’t have Margaret Lockwood’s perilously mischievous cute facial features, but there’s a more austere cunning between those eyes which makes this film a tad less inadvertently whimsical than some other real estate deadlock melodramas of the 1940s. The final courtroom scenes indulgently bring to the fore Granger’s plummy but hammy acting style but are most memorable for the Gothic costumes, lighting and composition, which is stunning.