Monday, October 8, 2018

A WORTHY OCTOBER VILLAIN: Dirk Bogarde in Cast a Dark Shadow (1955)

Janet Green's original play Murder Mistaken had a brief Broadway run under the title Gently Does It in 1953. The play became the film thriller Cast a Dark Shadow in 1955, and in 1956 the film lead, Margaret Lockwood reprised the role of Frieda Jeffries in a television production.

Dirk Bogarde

Dirk Bogarde stars as Edward "Teddy" Bare, a man whose only saleable commodity is an ability to charm. His charm is not sincere, but certain types are willing to overlook that aspect of Teddy's personality. Teddy is also vain and lazy. He has no empathy or sympathy. Teddy is a deeply troubled psychopath.

 Mona Washbourne, Dirk Bogarde

Mona Washbourne is Monica Bare, Teddy's wife of one year. "Monie" loves taking care of her "Teddy Bear", and he loves being taken care of. No observer could ever say that he isn't an attentive and caring husband. Why, he's even gotten Monie to the point where she doesn't drink her tea without a little nip of something extra. 

Dick Bogarde, Mona Washbourne

However, a tipsy Monie reveals to Teddy that upon the morrow she will be signing a will. He was under the impression that there was no will and that he would naturally inherit as next of kin. What Edward doesn't realize is that there is a will in which he gets the house while the cash assets go to Mrs. Bare's sister. Monie intends to sign an amended will leaving her money to "Teddy Bear". Foolish Edward believes he will be cut out by the new will, and he determines to keep his wife from signing the document.

Robert Flemyng, Kathleen Harrison, Dirk Bogarde

"Madam" was found face down by the open gas fireplace by the trusting housemaid Emmie played by Kathleen Harrison. The Coroner's Jury returned a verdict of accidental death. Master was so helpful with Emmie's testimony, going over it with her so she wouldn't be nervous. Master is also very helpful with the 200-pound bequest for Emmy, cheating her out of her money.

Robert Flemyng plays Philip Mortimer, Mrs. Bare's attorney who is suspicious of every move made by Edward. He takes great delight in stating that the inquest can be reopened at any time when evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered. Mortimer is also rather pleased to relate the details of Mrs. Bare's current will to her grieving husband. 

Dirk Bogarde, Margaret Lockwood

Edward is touched that dear Monie was thinking of him, but he made a mistake and there is nothing for him to do now but to go out and find someone else to finance the lifestyle to which he chooses to become accustomed. A return to the seaside resort that had proved so lucky for him in the past brings Edward into the orbit of a well-off widow, Frieda Jeffries played by Margaret Lockwood. She ran her husband's pub for years and now benefits from a lucky turn in business and Albert's demise. Frieda doesn't have any or many delusions where Edward is concerned, but she does think he is at least her equal when it comes to money in the bank and they are in this thing pound for pound. Frieda expects to retain her independence while gaining the companionship of the charmer.

Dirk Bogarde

Edward is dismayed to find he can't get Frieda to invest in one of his bogus real estate schemes. This marriage certainly doesn't echo his earlier one. He needs another plan or another pigeon. Edward often confides in the spirit of the late Monie of his troubles, declaring that she would not approve of the loud and frank Frieda. "This one is crude." Of course, we understand Edward's definition of crude. He is not her coddled "Teddy Bear". Frieda's husband is "Ed" and he is expected to pull his weight.

Margaret Lockwood, Kay Walsh

Kay Walsh plays Charlotte Young who makes the acquaintance of Mr. and Mrs. Bare. She has recently come into some money and is looking to invest in an estate to use as a school. Frieda wants Ed to stay away from her money, so she doesn't really care if he fleeces Miss Young. Nonetheless, even the confident Frieda begins to get testy about the amount of time Edward and Charlotte spend together.

Charlotte Young, however, is not as she presents herself. This rich and personable woman who begins to make a play for Edward is Monie's younger sister Dora. She and Philip Mortimer are working to unmask the soulless Edward.

Dirk Bogarde

Foolish and impulsive this murderer may be, but Edward knows what he is about. Something is off with Charlotte. He knows who he appeals to, and she is not that sort of woman. Edward manipulates Frieda and Emmy out of the house when he senses the world is closing in. Edward finds comfort in Monie's room, among her things, sharing plans for his latest murder.

Dirk Bogarde, Kay Walsh

Edward underestimates the strength and cunning of his adversary. The big, empty and dark house is a setting for a bravura scene. The volley of accusations and fear between the two characters and actors is intense.

Margaret Lockwood, Dirk Bogarde

Is Frieda's return to the house a help in the furtherance of murder or justice?

Cast a Dark Shadow is an engrossing thriller with wonderful performances. The reveals are leisurely, but the pace never feels slow. Director Lewis Gilbert was an Oscar nominee for Alfie, a BAFTA winner for Educating Rita, and BAFTA nominee for Reach for the Sky, Alfie, and Shirley Valentine.

Margaret Lockwood was nominated for a BAFTA in the category of Best Britsh Actress for the role of Frieda. The winner was Katie Johnson in The Ladykillers. Frieda is honest and loud, caring and tough. She thinks she has the upper hand, but she has married a disturbed and dangerous man.

Dirk Bogarde is masterful as Teddy Bare, adding a great film villain to his filmography during the same period in which he played the appealing Jose in The Spanish Gardener, and returned to the earnest Simon Sparrow in Doctor at Sea.


  1. I remember how creepy this film was, right from the beginning, when we see Mona Washborne apparently screaming, only it turns out she's on a carnival fun ride (and then there's the shot of Bogarde's eyes...). Her relationship with Dirk Bogarde is quite unsettling, just beginning with the difference in their ages and how she babytalks him. I also remember this as one of Margaret Lockwood's best performances. She usually was so ladylike onscreen, but she plays it loud and gutsy here.

    1. Yes! "Unsettling" is definitely the word to describe the relationship and, most definitely, Teddy. Evil can be so obvious but difficult to fight.

  2. You dig up the most-tempting gems, CW. Honestly! The moment I spotted Kathleen Harrison in that middle photo I thought, "I got to see this!" and then Kay Walsh to boot. Wow. Great cast. Poor Dirk always seems to be portraying psychopaths but then he had a troubled life for real anyway, so I guess these roles came easy for him. Such a good actor though.

    1. When you see Dirk in a role like this you cannot imagine any other actor bringing his special brand of charm and menace. I think this is something you will really enjoy watching.

  3. I have to add this to my list, bene hearing a lot abut it for years! Good article.

    Carol, The Old Hollywood Garden

  4. Thanks for putting me on the scent of this film, CW. My dad, sister, and I watched it a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Such an engrossing film! I think my grandmother ( who passed on several years ago ) would have loved this one, too. She liked Night Must Fall and especially enjoyed British films.

    1. There must be something in the air. It's funny how certain films just seem to start popping up.

  5. Awesome cast, Poor Dirk always seems to be portraying psychopaths but then he had a troubled life for real anyway, so I guess these roles came easy for him. Such a good actor though.



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