TV Cream

Films: M is for...

Man in Grey, The

This overly convoluted but nonetheless heavily similar melodrama to The Wicked Lady, precedes said film by two years and is lauded as the first melodrama from Gainsborough studios. As in The Wicked Lady, Margaret Lockwood stars as a greedy, eyes fixed firmly on the goal of grabbing the country manor, she-devil. Her aptitude for cunning is quite frankly wasted on the menial role of Governess, which James Mason intuits as he refuses her the role, deeming her unsuitable. Instead, he allows her to stay as lady’s companion to his wife, Phyllis Calvert. As in The Wicked Lady’s similar wifely role covered by Patricia Roc, Calvert represents rosy-cheeked duty, lack of drama and well-meaning naivete. Bless her.

Probably advisable not to dwell too much on the parallels between the two films as there are too many to mention. Instead, appreciate that the magic ingredient in The Man in Grey is Stewart Granger, providing light relief as a slightly more complex and human character than the dutifully devillish Mason and who is genuinely very funny (and slightly incongruously so) in his loveable goof stage performance as Othello. Actually, we don’t really know what to make of him. We know he’s both mercurial and untrustworthy but we have a hunch he’s OK and not necessarily devious, unlike Lockwood and Mason. Of course, as is the custom in 1943, any self-respecting, ambitiously transgressive brunette will get her comeuppance in the end and in this case, it’s Mason’s turn to get nasty with Lockwood, with worrying relish.

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