The Temptress  [DVD]
Joan Maude (actor)
Arnold Bell (actor)
Quality: Good, b/w, 4:3
The complex plot begins with the passionate desire of a doctor to found a hospital for medical research, which is thwarted by the Nazi invasion, in which he loses his notes and all his money. In later years, this leads to him being tempted for money (in order to found the hospital) to murder a patient at the instigation of the man's much younger and faithless wife ('the Temptress'), Lady Clifford. He nearly murders the man's son as well but is prevented at the last moment, and then commits suicide with an overdose of his miracle drug in order to avoid arrest. The 'temptress' who was behind it all is a classic example of the wicked, passionate, self-centred woman addicted to gambling and luxury, and at the end she is left trembling with terror at the justice which awaits her, while a happy young couple of the sub-plot look forward to their marital bliss.
This melodrama features an intense performance by Joan Maude as a vain,
self-centred second wife of an older man, who is prepared to kill him and his son to get the money to indulge her lover, her gambling addiction, and her craving for luxury. It is uncanny how much Joan Maude resembles Hedy Lamarr, and I did seriously wonder! Arnold Bell as an idealistic doctor corrupted by the desire to get the money to found a hospital and complete his medical research is convincing and striking in his role. The direction by Oswald Mitchell is remarkably wooden, and some of the actors appear to be reading their lines from cards over each other's shoulders. The budget could hardly have been lower. Don Stannard as the son is stolid but uninspired, but Shirley Quentin as the nurse whom he wants to marry is cheery and charming. This postwar British B picture has real entertainment value if you do not mind the low production standards and the lack of spontaneity of some of the performances, as well as the creaking direction and editing. The plot is rather complex,
apparently as a result of coming from an uncredited novel, which results in this film rising slightly above its natural level. You can readily imagine the missing 200 pages of the story which didn't fit into the film. It is a pleasant diversion if you like British B movies of the period, and enjoy studying the obsolete manners of the time, which are well conveyed. Ferdy Mayne is suitably unctuous, mannered, and creepy as the cad, and is a true period type.