Blanche Fury Reviews

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jjnxn
Super Reviewer
November 18, 2010
Over ripe and melodramatic this soap opera is enjoyable in a guilty pleasure sort of way. Granger overdoes it in parts but the settings and Technicolor are beautiful.
August 13, 2013
No Bodices Were Harmed in the Making of This Film

You can tell that this wasn't an American film. No American film of 1948 could have had the same plot, even though all evildoers are appropriately punished. The background of the film would have been forbidden, much less anything that actually happens onscreen. One of the main characters is an illegitimate child. If two of the characters don't commit adultery, they commit fornication. (I'm not sure of the timeline.) And so forth. For 1948, this is quite shocking stuff. To a modern eye, probably the most shocking part is the portrayal of Gypsies, though I doubt most people even notice. (Discrimination against Gypsies seems to be considered more quaint and old-fashioned than an actual problem these days.) All the stuff that appears in this movie might easily be in the chintzy romance novels my mother spent so much time reading when I was growing up.

Blanche Fury (Valerie Hobson) is the impoverished daughter of an old, established family. She has been failing at a number of the kind of jobs a woman like her would have had. Finally, she receives a letter from her uncle Simon (Walter Fitzgerald), who says that, now that certain other relatives have died, he wants her to come to the family estate and be the governess of his granddaughter, Lavinia (Susanne Gibbs). She will be a servant, but she will have a home. Also in this position is Philip Thorn (Stewart Granger), the illegitimate son of the former owner of the estate. He believes he should have inherited the estate, believes his parents were married in Italy. This fuels his resentment against his Fury cousins, which isn't helped when Blanche marries Laurence (Michael Gough in one of his first roles). Things get worse, and Blanche must face the fact that she is in love with Philip, not Laurence. Laurence seems to know this and decides to take control, which of course doesn't end well for anyone.

It's awfully melodramatic, is what I'm saying. To the point that it's silly. Obviously, we shouldn't expect chemistry between Blanche and Laurence, but there isn't really any chemistry between Blanche and Philip, either. Lavinia spends most of the movie forgotten, I think; she arrives again when we need her to be the heir, but she has no part in the story until she needs to be in danger to keep the plot, such as it is, going. To be honest, I have no idea how she connects to the rest of the family anyway. Okay, she's Simon's granddaughter. Who were her parents? Was Laurence widowed? How were the families related? Blanche's father and Simon were brothers, but how was Philip's father related to the others? Are all three first cousins? It's entirely possible that the movie said this and I missed it, but it is kind of important information, right? Why do so many movies let important plot points slide like that? I feel like I'm saying this sort of thing a lot.

And I mean, it's badly filmed, too. The colour's being muddy may be the fact that this movie is more than sixty years old, and Netflix Instant Play may not have a copy in the best condition. (This is another thing that I would like fixed before Netflix goes to all-streaming; a lot of the older movies are not in good shape.) However, Netflix couldn't make the actual shots worse. (This is not getting into the fact that Netflix has recently acknowledged changing aspect ratios on some films; this is too old to have it be an issue.) The director doesn't seem particularly skilled, in my opinion. I actually turned off a movie last week that he'd directed, because it did even less for me than this one. Also, I was watching it earlier in the day. But the point, here, is that the movie isn't good enough in a technical perspective to rise above the plot problems it has. Some movies do; this one does not. Which is fairly common, so I'm not really all that peeved about the whole thing.

My mother read the books that she did because she knew she could put them down pretty much in mid-sentence and pick them up again considerably later without missing the plot. While there are a lot of details that I missed, the general thrust of the story was pretty predictable. I've never really agreed with my mother on the subject. I'd rather read something interesting, even if I have to reread a page back upon picking the book up again, but I do see my mother's point. To be fair to my mother--or perhaps not, depending on your perspective--she mostly read Harlequins and so forth instead of the dippy historical ones. So this wasn't the sort she was most likely to read. However, it does still have its similarities. It's not unlike the books I read when I was pregnant the first time, because my roommate had a ton of them and I was reading everything I could get my hands on. However, this is certainly no more the kind of movie I'd watch a second time than I bothered reading most of those books a second time.
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