29 July 2014

A Place of One's Own (1945)
92 min.
Directed by Bernard Knowles.
With James Mason, Barbara Mullen, Margaret Lockwood, Dennis Price, Dulcie Gray, Ernest Thesiger, Helen Haye, Moore Marriott, Edie Martin, Helen Goss.
This subdued British ghost story should be seen if only for its terrific twist ending.

Elderly Henry Smedhurst (Mason) and his wife Emilie (Mullen) are poised to live out their retirement years in rest, relaxation and comfort.

They use their hard-earned life savings to purchase old Bellingham House, a roomy manor out in the country, and soon they're all moved in and ready to settle down.

Emilie even hires likable young Annette (Lockwood) to be her friend and social companion.

But something about Bellingham House just isn't right.

The place was vacant for 40 years before the Smedhursts bought it. Some say it's been haunted all these years by the ghost of its previous owner, Elizabeth Harkness, a wealthy invalid girl who died of an accidental overdose, but in reality was murdered by her two greedy caregivers.

To make matters worse, Annette has started to behave very strangely - as if she's being possessed, there are odd rumblings coming through the house's speaker wires, and Emilie feels Bellingham is evil and should be razed from top to bottom!

Can Henry and Emilie find a way to calm the restless spirit of Elizabeth before they lose Annette (and Bellingham itself)?

Adapted from a novel by Osbert Sitwell, A Place of One's Own is firmly anchored by the lead performances of Mason and Mullen; they lend the effort just the right touch of ambient theatrics, leaving the good supporting cast (especially Lockwood and Price) to fill in the blanks.

Best of all, though, is the memorable final scene with the long-awaited arrival of Elizabeth's personal physician Dr. Marsham (played by the always excellent Thesiger)....a most chilling climax.

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