DVD Fanny by Gaslight (DVD 16033093),
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Fanny by Gaslight

  • NR
  • DVD
  • 1 disc
  • Region 1 USA/CA (info)
  • Based on a novel by Michael Sadleir set in 1870s Victorian London, Anthony Asquith's film version of FANNY was one of the most popular of the Gainsborough films. The melodramatic story has everything the genre demands--an innocent heroine, a dastardly villain, family secrets, duels, questionable parentage and a handsome hero. Fanny (Phyllis Calvert) is beset by the cruel vicissitudes of life as she tries to make her way in the world after her mother dies and her father is killed in a fight with Lord Manderstoke. James Mason gives a standout performance as Lord Manderstoke, a scoundrel now bound on the seduction of the virtuous Fanny. Stewart Granger, as Harry Somerford, is the staunch hero who tries to save Fanny.

    Made during the WWII, a time of great sacrifice for the British people, the box office success would indicate that, like the Depression era musicals in America, audiences enjoyed watching extravagance in times of deprivation. The film's depiction and treatment of sexual themes is surprisingly frank for the 1940s. James Mason projects a palpable feeling of the depraved desires that lurks beneath the facades of outwardly respectable characters; much as he did later in his memorable performance as the pedophile, Humbert Humbert, in LOLITA. Although he has only a supporting role, it's his effect on the other characters, and the audience (he was very popular with the women of Britain at this time), that holds the film together.
  • Credits
    James Mason, Phyllis Calvert, Stewart Granger, Wilfrid Lawson
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