The last showing of the Films Group‘s current series of British films from the 1940s would have been Corridor of Mirrors (1948) on 23 March 2020, but for obvious reasons this screening did not take place.
However, the film is available to stream on YouTube, and is highly recommended for those with a taste for 40s high romanticism (think The Red Shoes and The Queen of Spades, both from the same period).
We have concluded that the best place to post film links and for there to be the possibility of a discussion, comments, observations etc. after the film has been seen, is Facebook. So we have set up a private Facebook page, just for CEDU3A members. You do not have to be a member of the Films Group, but must have a Facebook account. To access the private Facebook page please first add yourself as a friend on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/patsy.nightingale.1
The following text is from a programme note compiled for a 2016 screening at Birkbeck College, as part of a ‘High Forties’ series presented by the London Screen Study Collection at Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image (BIMI).
Since it was published quite recently on DVD, this all but forgotten film has acquired a growing reputation. Not only is it stylistically impressive, especially for its art direction (filmed in a French studio), but it launched several important careers. Terence Young would go on to make some of the earliest (and best) Bond films, while Christopher Lee became a mainstay in British screen acting, initially with Hammer horrors. Some may also remember Barbara Mullen from her later role in Doctor Finlay’s Casebook on TV, although here she plays a very different character. And after Wanted for Murder, and Powell & Pressburger’s A Canterbury Tale, Eric Portman here plays another of his sinister Sadean anti-heroes. Georges Auric was already one of the most distinguished of French composers, part of the ‘Les Six’ group, and famous for his Cocteau collaborations, and later director of the Paris opera.
The one person who did not go on to a distinguished screen career is Edana Romney, for whom the film seems to have been set up. Coming from South Africa and trained as a dancer, Romney was married to producer John Woolf, who appears to have created Apollo Productions to launch her career as an aspiring star (she had appeared in a 1941 low-budget thriller East of Piccadilly). She appeared in a number of television dramas (including an early 1938 production), which may explain this production being overseen by Rudolph Cartier, one of the BBC’s pioneer directors, who apparently co-scripted with Romney.
Altogether an intriguing mix of talents, coming together at a perilous moment in the British film industry, when a dispute with the Hollywood majors plunged both Rank and Korda into economic crisis, and led to the government’s Board of Trade, under Harold Wilson, setting up a fiscal safety-net for British production.
LONDON SCREEN STUDY COLLECTION (BIMI)
The High Forties
Corridor of Mirrors (1948)
Dir: Terence Young
Sc: Rudolph Cartier and Edana Romney, form the novel by Christopher Massie
Ph: Andre Thomas
Art dir: Terence Verity (Serge Pimenoff credited for a ‘French version’)
Ed: Douglas Myers
Mus: Georges Auric
Sd: J. S. Davie
Cast: Eric Portman (Paul Mangin), Edana Romney (Mifanwy Conway), Barbara Mullen (Veronica), Hugh Sinclair (Owen Rhys), Bruce Belfrage (Sir David Conway), Alan Wheatley (Edgar Orsan), Joan Maude (Caroline Hart), Christopher Lee (Charles), Thora Hird (Taussauds visitor)
Prod: Rudolph Cartier. Apollo. 105 mins.
Corridor of Mirrors was based on a novel by Christopher Massie and is notable as being both Terence Young’s and Christopher Lee’s first film. Visually one of the most engaging pieces of cinema made in Britain in 1948, it extends the French post-war aesthetic typical of Jean Cocteau’s 1950 Orphée and Jean Gremillion’s noirish Pattes Blanches (1949), another neo-realist fairy story. – Variety, 1948.