Love From a Stranger
(1937), 86 min. b&w

a romatic moment

The film "Love From a Stranger" is from a Frank Vosper play, which in turn was based on a short story by Agatha Christie entitled "Philomel Cottage." Although the names and a few details are changed, the story is surprisingly similar to "Philomel Cottage."  Filmed in England, "Love From a Stranger" starred Basil Rathbone and Ann Harding. Also in the film, playing the dim-witted maid Emmy, is a young Joan Hickson (TV's Miss Marple).Carol tells Ronnie she's married.

Carol (Ann Harding) is a working girl, struggling to make ends meet while supporting her aunt and her sister. One day she wins the lottery and is suddenly rich. Carol's fiance Ronny is not at all thrilled that Carol now has money. He had thought that marriage would make her life better, but now she wouldn't need him to support her. They have a row and he leaves.

Pretending to be interested in renting her flat, Gerald Lovell (Rathbone) meets Carol and discovers that she is longing to travel and see the world. They meet again on board a ship to Paris and Gerald is absolutely charming. He woos Carol, promising her wild, exciting nights, and out-of-the-ordinary experiences. Carol can't help falling in love with him.

Carol's former fiance Ronny shows up in Paris to apologize and ask her to come back to London with him. He warns Carol that Gerald is a scoundrel and a fortune-hunter and not to be trusted.  But it is too late. Gerald and Carol have just gotten married.Carol trusts her charming husband.

After Carol and Gerald have traveled to exotic places, they return to England, where they purchase a home in a remote spot near Kent.  Gerald makes it clear he does not want Carol's sister, aunt or friends visiting in their home.  "Don't let anyone disturb our happiness -- not that noisy Kate or Auntie Lou -- not anyone." For awhile all is well. Carol suspects nothing and trusts her husband completely.

Gerald, an amateur photographer, sets up his own private darkroom in the cellar, and won't let anyone in. "No one is to go into that cellar but me -- no one." One day Carol goes into the cellar to speak to Gerald and he freaks out. "GET OUT!" He apologizes immediately, but Carol says, "I'll never forget the way you looked -- like a madman."Gerald the madman

After this incident Carol insists that Gerald be examined by a doctor. The doctor tells Gerald that he has a serious heart condition and warns him not to get too excited about anything or overexert himself. Gerald and the doctor discuss the Fletcher case, about a madman who murdered three wealthy women.  In each case Fletcher married the woman, and a short time later announced to friends and neighbors that they were taking a trip and would be away for several months. He killed the woman and took her money. By the time anyone began to worry about the woman or found a body, Fletcher was long gone.  Gerald beams when he hears Fletcher described as "brilliant" because he IS Fletcher.  Tension mounts as we realize -- the night before a planned "trip" -- Carol is alone with Gerald one evening, and he is intent on killing her.  But Carol catches on and outsmarts him.  Knowing he has a bad heart, she tells him she has poisoned his coffee. She succeeds in frightening Gerald so much that he has a heart attack and dies.

Gerald thinks he has the upper hand
 
Joan Hickson
Joan Hickson

Don't miss this exciting thriller.  Rathbone is superb, both as the charmer and as the psychotic madman. Excellent performances by the rest of the cast contribute to making this film top-notch. Gerald having a heart attack

"Love From a Stranger" was re-released in 1945 with the title "A Night of Terror." (It was indeed a night of terror for Carol.)   In 1947 "Love From a Stranger" was remade in Hollywood, with Sylvia Sidney and John Hodiak.

See more pictures from the film on Page Two.

 
 
 

Cast

Credits

Basil Rathbone................Gerald Lovell
Ann Harding...................Carol Howard
Binnie Hale...................Kate Meadows
Bruce Seton.....................Ronald Bruce
Jean Cadell.............................Aunt Lou
Bryan Powley......................Dr. Gribble
Joan Hickson...............................Emmy
Donald Calthrop.......................Hobson
Eugene Leahy.......................Mr. Tuttle
Production Co. ......................Trafalgar
Producer.............................Max Schach
Director.........................Rowland V. Lee
Screenplay....................Frances Marion
Cinematographer...........Philip Tannura 
Editor..............................Howard O'Neill
Costume Design..............Samuel Lange

Images on this page and page 2 are from the film "Love From a Stranger," copyright Trafalgar Films.

 

 

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All original content is Marcia Jessen, 2007