|Directed by||Lance Comfort|
|Produced by||Isadore Goldsmith|
|Written by||Vera Caspary|
|Based on||the novel by Vera Caspary|
|Music by||Hans May|
|Edited by||Michael Truman|
John Corfield Productions
|Distributed by||Eagle-Lion Films (US)|
General Film Distributors (UK)
J. Arthur Rank Film (Germany)
|May 1946 (UK)|
7 February 1947 (USA)
|Box office||$350,000 (US)|
Bedelia is a 1946 British drama film directed by Lance Comfort and starring Margaret Lockwood, Ian Hunter and Barry K. Barnes. It is an adaptation of the 1945 novel Bedelia by Vera Caspary with events moved from the United States to England and Monaco.
Bedelia Carrington (Margaret Lockwood) is apparently happily married and on her honeymoon in Monte Carlo with Charlie Carrington (Ian Hunter.) However, a cultivated young artist, Ben Chaney (Barry K. Barnes), begins probing into her past with curious concern. Chaney, in reality a detective, suspects that Bedelia's obsession for money has led her, in the past, to dispose of more than one husband for the insurance money.
- Margaret Lockwood as Bedelia Carrington
- Ian Hunter as Charlie Carrington
- Barry K. Barnes as Ben Chaney
- Anne Crawford as Ellen
- Beatrice Varley as Mary
- Louise Hampton as Hannah
- Jill Esmond as Nurse Harris
- Julien Mitchell as Dr. McAfee
- Vi Stevens as Mrs. McAfee
- Kynaston Reeves as Mr. Bennett
- Olga Lindo as Mrs. Bennett
- John Salew as Alec Johnstone
- Barbara Blair as Sylvia Johnstone
- Daphne Arthur as Miss Jenkins
- Claude Bailey as Capt. McKelvey
- Ellen Pollock as McKelvey's Housekeeper
- Henry De Bray as M.Martin
- Marcel Poncin as M. Perrin
- Michael Martin Harvey as Abbé
- Sonia Sergyl as Abbé's Housekeeper
- Aubrey Mallalieu as Vicar
- Oscar Nation as Police Inspector
The film was based on a novel by Vera Caspary which was published in 1945. It was about a bachelor in his thirties called Charlie who married a widow, Bedelia, he meets at a summer resort in 1913. The New York Times said it was "guaranteed to raise gooseflesh on the hottest summer night." The Los Angeles Times called it "one of the neatest and cleverest jobs of writing this season."
The film version of Caspary's novel Laura had been a big hit in 1944 and there was much interest in Bedelia even before publication. Caspary enjoyed the film of Laura although had some reservations. "Hollywood simply can't visualise a girl who leads her own life, and in whom sex is not uppermost", said Caspary. "They always show the career woman as either frustrated or freakish. I know lots of balanced professional women who can take love or let it alone."
This meant she was susceptible to approaches from British film companies as well as Hollywood. She also felt in Britain there was more respect for the writer. In late 1944 she sold the film rights to producer Isadore Goldsmith, who had impressed Caspary with The Stars Look Down, and wanted to set up the film in England. Goldsmith arranged financing through John Cornfield Productions, a unit of the Rank Organisation.
"The movie will probably have one or two Hollywood names in it and will be an Arthur Rank release", said said. "Mr Rank is another who was wonderful to me – but then in England even the producers respect writers... England is counting on pictures to be one of her great export items."
Early contenders for the title role included Geraldine Fitzgerald, Vivien Leigh and Merle Oberon. Later on Marlene Dietrich, Valerie Hobson and Linden Travers were mentioned. Donald Woods, then appearing in a stage version of Laura, was a front-runner for the male lead.
Eventually Margaret Lockwood was cast in the lead, with Ian Hunter and Barry Barnes in support. It was Barnes' first film since The Girl in the News, also with Lockwood, and Hunter's first British film in 14 years. Jill Esmond, Laurence Olivier's first wife, was given a support role. The film was made with the American market very much in mind.
Goldsmith later optioned the film rights to Caspary's next novel, Out of the Blue.
Prior to filming, Goldsmith submitted the script to the Johnston office in the US (the censor). They had issues with the proposed ending, where Bedelia committed suicide with the tacit encouragement of her husband. It was decided to shoot an additional ending for the American market where Bedelia turned herself in to the police. This sequence cost $63,000. Lockwood thought it was "ridiculous" to have to shoot a new ending. Most British observers who saw the two endings preferred the suicide one.
When Goldsmith showed the final film to the US censor, they said he could use the British ending if he wanted. Goldsmith showed the film to various Hollywood observers and press and found they preferred the American ending. According to The New York Times, Goldsmith thought the difference of opinion between British and American observers went to "the relative position of women on the two sides of the Atlantic. Americans, he believes, prefer to see their heroines in the most favourable light, even at the sacrifice of integrity in character study."
In addition to this, some scenes had to be reshot for the US to reduce the extent of Lockwood's visible cleavage.
According to trade papers, the film was a "notable box office attraction" at British cinemas. Kinematograph Weekly reported that the "biggest winner" at the box office in 1946 Britain was The Wicked Lady starring Lockwood, with "runners up" being The Bells of St Marys, Piccadilly Incident, The Road to Utopia, Tomorrow is Forever, Brief Encounter, Wonder Man, Anchors Away, Kitty, The Captive Heart, The Corn is Green, Spanish Main, Leave Her to Heaven, Gilda (also from a novel by Vera Caspray), Caravan, Mildred Pierce, Blue Dahlia, Years Between, O.S.S., Spellbound, Courage of Lassie, My Reputation, London Town, Caesar and Cleopatra, Meet the Navy, Men of Two Worlds, Theirs is the Glory, The Overlanders, and Bedelia.
Lockwood wrote in her memoirs that although the film "was a great success, in truth had not done much to mollify my opinion of scripts in general."
In terms of the critics, TV Guide noted, "Margaret Lockwood appears in one of her best villainous roles, played this time with subtlety"; while Leonard Maltin called the film "absorbing but not terribly suspenseful"; and The New York Times described it as "pretty much of a disappointment". In a retrospective review in 2010, Noir of the Week wrote, "Laura is often identified as one of the all-time great noir films...but in many ways, Bedelia is the better, more complex, and subversive film."
Filmink said the film would have "seemed like a sure thing" but was hurt by "odd scripting decisions, minimal atmosphere and lack of firepower amongst the support cast."
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- "O'Brien in Mexico Yarn; Hodiak 'Frankie' Star" Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 23 May 1945: A2.
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- "Dogs, cats, gorgeous gowns in "Bedelia"". The Australian Women's Weekly. 13 (47). 4 May 1946. p. 36. Retrieved 3 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
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- THOMAS F BRADY (24 November 1946). "HOLLYWOOD: Censoring of 'Bedelia' Has Amusing Results Arbiter Goes Home Heading South". The New York Times. p. 85.
- Schallert, Edwin (9 March 1947). "British Film Star Irked by Censors: 'Silly,' Says Margaret Lockwood in Trans-Atlantic Phone Chat". Los Angeles Times. p. B1.
- "Margaret Lockwood's fame brings problems". The Australian Women's Weekly. 15 (23). 15 November 1947. p. 32. Retrieved 3 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p209
- Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32 no. 3. p. 258.
- Lant, Antonia (1991). Blackout : reinventing women for wartime British cinema. Princeton University Press. p. 232.
- Lockwood, Margaret (1955). Lucky Star: The Autobiography of Margaret Lockwood. Odhams Press Limited. p. 135.
- "Bedelia". TV Guide.
- "Movie Review – Bedelia – ' Bedelia,' Psychological Thriller Based on Vera Caspary Book, With Margaret Lockwood in Lead, New Bill at Victoria – NYTimes.com".
- "Film Noir of the Week: Bedelia (1946)".
- Vagg, Stephen (29 January 2020). "Why Stars Stop Being Stars: Margaret Lockwood". Filmink.
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- Schallert, Edwin (13 March 1947). "DRAMA AND FILM: Kelly 'East River' Star; Mt. McKinley Saga Set". Los Angeles Times. p. A3.
- "Hollywood Host". Harrisburg Telegraph. 26 October 1946. p. 21. Retrieved 29 September 2015 – via Newspapers.com. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)