It Started in Paradise
|It Started in Paradise|
|Directed by||Compton Bennett|
|Produced by||Sergei Nolbandov
|Written by||Marghanita Laski|
|Music by||Malcolm Arnold|
|Editing by||Alan Osbiston|
|Distributed by||General Film Distributors|
|Release dates||28 October 1952|
|Running time||94 min.|
It Started in Paradise is a 1952 British drama film, directed by Compton Bennett and starring Jane Hylton, Martita Hunt and Muriel Pavlow. Set in the world of haute couture, the film was squarely aimed at female audiences. Its storyline of an established master of her craft being usurped by a younger, ruthlessly ambitious underling, who then years later finds the same thing happening to her – with a waspish male critic on hand throughout to provide a steady stream of acerbic, biting commentary – led inevitably to the film being dubbed the All About Eve of the fashion world.
In 1938, Mme. Alice (Hunt), chief designer of a famous London fashion house, has lost her touch. Where once she was the most sought after designer in the city, now her creations seem locked in the past and clients are looking elsewhere for modern fashions. She is persuaded by her senior assistant Martha (Hylton) that she needs a long holiday to recapture her creative inspiration. Once Mme. Alice has departed the fiercely ambitious Martha, who has been biding her time for several years, launches a coup, designing and presenting a range of up-to-the-minute garments which are a huge success with the fashion media and bring clients flocking back to the salon. The financial backer of the business is delighted with the upturn in profits; Martha is promoted to chief designer and Mme. Alice is quietly retired.
Over the course of the next decade Martha, with the help of Alison (Pavlow), a talented girl she took on straight out of school, restores the house to its pre-eminent position in the London fashion world. She becomes so driven that she starts not to care who she treads on in her quest to be the best in the business. Over the years while her professional career goes from strength to strength, she neglects friends, treats associates badly and makes business enemies.
By the start of the 1950s Martha too seems to have had her day; appreciation for her designs tapers off and her reputation falls. Those she has alienated on the way up are only too happy to watch her on the way down. Meanwhile Alison, having waited for her own chance, seizes the opportunity to present her own designs which are acclaimed as fresh, innovative and contemporary. Alison is in, Martha is out, and the cycle begins again.
- Jane Hylton as Martha Watkins
- Martita Hunt as Mme. Alice
- Muriel Pavlow as Alison
- Terence Morgan as Edouard
- Ian Hunter as Arthur Turner
- Ronald Squire as Mary Jane
- Brian Worth as Michael
- Kay Kendall as Lady Caroline Frencham
- Dana Wynter as Barbara
- Joyce Barbour as Lady Burridge
- Harold Lang as Mr. Louis
- Margaret Withers as Miss Madge
- Lucienne Hill as Mme. Lucienne
- Diana Decker as Crystal Leroy
- Arthur Lane as Sydney Bruce