Cast a Dark Shadow

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Cast a Dark Shadow
Cast a dark shadow poster 1955.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Produced by Herbert Mason
Written by John Cresswell
Based on the play Murder Mistaken 
by Janet Green
Starring Dirk Bogarde
Margaret Lockwood
Kay Walsh
Music by Antony Hopkins
Cinematography Jack Asher
Edited by Gordon Pilkington
Distributed by Eros Films Ltd. (UK)
Distributors Corporation of America (US)
Release dates
  • September 20, 1955 (1955-09-20) (London)
Running time
82 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Cast a Dark Shadow is a 1955 British suspense film directed by Lewis Gilbert. The black-and-white film was based on the play Murder Mistaken by Janet Green. The story concerns a young Bluebeard, played by Dirk Bogarde.


After a year of marriage, Edward "Teddy" Bare (Dirk Bogarde) kills his wealthy older wife, Monica (Mona Washbourne), after she asks her lawyer, Phillip Mortimer (Robert Flemyng), to change her will. He stages it to look as if she was accidentally asphyxiated while drunkenly trying to light a gas heater.

To his chagrin, he discovers that she actually intended to leave him all her money; instead, he only inherits the mansion from a prior will, while her millions are left in trust to her only relative, her sister Dora. Edward will receive the money if Dora dies. An inquest rules it an accident, but Phillip makes it clear he suspects Edward. When Edward asks where Dora lives, Phillip tells him she is too far away, in Jamaica.

Edward manages to marry lower-class but well-off widow Freda Jeffries (Margaret Lockwood), who is closer to her husband's age, and much less trusting than her predecessor, keeping tight control over her fortune. As the death of a second spouse so soon after the first would be highly suspicious, he is powerless to do anything. Edward becomes acquainted with Charlotte Young (Kay Walsh), who is looking for a house to purchase for an equestrian school. As Edward was an estate agent before he married Monica, he shows her around, making Freda jealous.

Edward lures Charlotte to his mansion late one night while Freda and the servant are out. He reveals he knows that Charlotte is actually Dora. Then he brazenly admits killing her sister before trying to make her leave. Suspicious, she remains where she is. Eventually, however, Freda returns home and escorts Charlotte to the door. After she drives away, Edward tells Freda that he killed Monica, secure in the knowledge that a wife cannot be made to testify against her husband, and that he expects to inherit Charlotte's money shortly, as he has tampered with the brakes on her car. He is shocked when Phillip enters the room, having heard his confession, followed by his intended victim. She had returned to the house after meeting the lawyer at the estate's gate. Edward flees in his car, but the entrance is blocked by Charlotte's and Phillip's automobiles. With Phillip in pursuit, Edward switches to another vehicle, only to realize too late that he has taken Charlotte's. He loses control and drives off a cliff.



Critical response[edit]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz wrote a mixed review, "A thriller based on the play Murder Mistaken by Janet Green about a psychotic Bluebeard, Edward Bare (Dirk Bogarde), who is married to an elderly, genteel widow, Monica (Mona Washbourne), who inherited a fortune when her shop owner hubby died. Edward was a clerk in one of her husband's shops and married her solely for her money, and then schemes to kill her to inherit her fortune. This woman-in-peril thriller is well acted, but director Lewis Gilbert fails to draw much tension from the perilous setup situation ... It was a somewhat pleasing melodrama, but with too many opportunities missed to make this a more moving presentation."[1]


  1. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, 4 November 2002; accessed 11 August 2013.

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