The Passionate Stranger (1957) Cinema Rediscovered

July 28th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Muriel Box | Cast: Margaret Leighton, Ralph Richardson, Carlo Justino | UK Drama

The Passionate Stranger (1957) centres around happily married house-wife Judith Wynter (Margaret Leighton) who keeps the fact she is a best-selling author of steamy romance novels a closely guarded secret. As her husband Roger (Ralph Richardson), recovers from a serious illness, the couple’s new driver Carlo (Carlo Justini) discovers the manuscript of Judith’s latest novel and jumps to a rather unfortunate conclusion, making life in the Wynter household very complicated indeed!

Similar in conception – and, alas, execution – to Preston Sturges’ ‘Unfaithfully Yours’. I guess it was an early attempt by future ‘Carry On’ producer Peter Rogers at a saucy comedy, but what – or who? – exactly are we supposed to be laughing at?

The middle section in pretty fifties Eastmancolor – in which Margaret Leighton, inauspiciously reunited with ‘Holly and the Ivy’ patriarch Ralph Richardson, plays Chopin in Norman Hartnell – goes on for far too long and is too broadly played, and none of it is remotely as witty as it evidently thinks it is. While Humphrey Searle’s score sledgehammers home situations that cry out for a more tongue-in-cheek treatment.

The most remarkable transformation is Patricia Dainton’s from mouse to hussy (with painted red lips to complement her emerald green dress), and is probably the single most enjoyably daft component in the film. @RichardChatten

On CINEMA REDISCOVERED BRISTOL until 30 July 2023 | BLURAY & DIGITAL for the first time in August 2023 along with RATTLE OF A SIMPLE MAN (1964) and THE TRUTH ABOUT WOMEN (1957) directed by Muriel Box 

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