The Wicked Lady (1946)

January 7th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Leslie Arliss | Cast: Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, Patricia Roc | UK Drama

Described by the late David Shipman as a “junk classic”, and Margaret Lockwood as a “calculating husband-stealing murderous bitch” (surrounded by decor and wearing costumes that must have consuming half the budget) who relieves her boredom by moonlighting as a footpad and enjoying a sado-masochistic relationship with a very saturnine young James Mason (who calls her a “green-eyed devil”).

Critics absolutely hated this film, but it went to become the top-earning British film of 1946. Like all the best melodramas the women call the shots (and if anything Lockwood particularly enjoys rubbing her own sex up the wrong way concentrating on their jewellery and devoting much of the film tussling with them like a prizefighter).

The ladies in the audience obviously derived considerable pleasure from the sight of Lockwood plunging ever deeper into sin while rooting for Patricia Roc – who gets to slap Lockwood’s face – and gone home well satisfied when she dies (SPOILER COMING:) with a bang followed by a whimper. It’s even rumoured that Queen Mary used to regularly watch it at Marlborough House. @RichardChatten

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