The Case of the Frightened Lady 1940
(US title: The Frightened Lady)
Director: George King
Writers: Edgar Wallace, Edward Dryhurst, Robert Stevenson
Rôle: Willie, Lord Lebanon
Release Date: 28 September 1940
Synopsis: Mark's Priory, the family seat of the Lebanons, is a house of terror to Ilsa Crane, secretary and niece of Lady Lebanon. The strange behaviour of two sinister butlers, Gilder and Brooks, adds greatly to her fear and her sole consolation lies in the sympathy extended her by young Lord William "Willie" Lebanon. A young architect, Richard Ferraby, arrives from London to inspect the ancient home in regards to renovations, and he and Isla are immediately attracted to each other. Lady Lebanon tells her son that he must marry Isla to carry on the family name but Lord Willie tells her he has no intentions of marrying. Later, the family physician, Dr. Amersham, arrives and it is evident he has some unrevealed hold over Lady Lebanon. The chauffeur, Studd, hints that he knew Amersham in India and that Amersham was discharged from the Indian Army under unsavoury circumstances. Isla and Richard find the chauffeur murdered and the suspicion falls on the gamekeeper, Tilling, whose wife had been more than a little friendly with Studd. But Chief Detective Inspector Tanner and Sergeant Totty arrive from Scotland Yard and uncover evidence that points to Dr. Amersham as the killer. Lord Willie substantiates the clue by telling them that Amersham had strangled a young Eurasian girl in India by using a red scarf and Studd, also, had been found strangled with a red scarf. The policeman are just about to fold up their tidy little case when a telegram arrives from Mark's Priory informing them that Amersham has just been found murdered, strangled with a red scarf!
Reviews: The film is included in an article by Aliya Whiteley in Den of Geek '10 Gripping British Thrillers of the 1940s': "It’s a very slow start to this mystery, but luckily Marius Goring is lots of fun. He’s cheerfully keen on composing piano music and relating tales of the murderous instincts of his staff and his time in India. Goring was a theatre actor first and foremost, and there’s always a touch of the theatrical in his film appearances, but in an enjoyable way. He’s the main reason to see this movie, but there are also some great thrill moments at the end, where the piano music swells and the shadow of the murderer falls against the walls of the creepy old castle. Chilling."
Trivia: This is the first of many films where we see Marius playing the piano and that is actually him playing. He also wears some very stylish suits (he sports a different one in every scene), looks very dapper and always wears a flower in his buttonhole. Marius was known all his life for his dress sense. From Brian McFarlane's article on him in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: "He was a meticulous dresser, adding a suggestion of raffish insouciance in his person."
Availability: DVD (Odeon Entertainment) Release Date: 2008.