A Window in London

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A Window in London
Directed by Herbert Mason
Produced by Richard Norton
Josef Somlo
Written by Brigid Cooper
Ian Dalrymple
Screenplay by Ian Dalrymple
Story by R. Herbert
Max Maret
Starring Michael Redgrave
Sally Gray
Paul Lukas
Hartley Power
Patricia Roc
Music by Bretton Byrd
Cinematography Glen MacWilliams
Edited by Philip Charlot
Production
company
Greenspan & Seligman Enterprises Ltd.
Distributed by General Film Distributors
Times Pictures
Release date
  • 15 June 1940 (1940-06-15) (United Kingdom)
  • 14 February 1942 (1942-02-14) (USA)
Running time
77 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

A Window in London is a 1940 British thriller film directed by Herbert Mason starring Michael Redgrave as Peter, a crane operator, Patricia Roc as Pat, Sally Gray, Paul Lukas and Hartley Power. It is a remake of the French film Metropolitan (1939). The plot focuses on a crane operator who becomes drawn to the wife of a jealous magician - after spotting what seems to be a murder in their flat.

The film is set in London, when Waterloo Bridge was still under construction. It was released in the US in 1942 under the title Lady in Distress.[1]

Plot[edit]

Pat (Patricia Roc), a hotel switchboard operator and Peter (Michael Redgrave) a crane operator are a happy well meaning couple, however because of their different shifts during the day they have no time for each other. While he works during the day on the construction of Waterloo Bridge his patient wife works during the night on a hotel telephone exchange. One morning on his way to work, Peter goes on the London Underground train and spots what seems to be a murder being committed on at the open window of a building overlooking the tracks. Deciding to investigate this "crime" Peter and a policeman arrive at the residence. There they find out that the couple were in fact rehearsing an illusion. Zoltini is a bad tempered magician and his wife Vivienne (Sally Gray) is his assistant. The suspicious magician becomes sure that his wife is having an affair with Peter - every time he sees her with the handsome stranger. On another night Zoltini and Vivienne have an argument on the backstage - leading to him slapping her in the face. As a result, Vivienne leaves (while her husband performs on stage) and takes a taxi with Peter up to his crane. Furious with Vivienne for leaving during the 'vanishing women' sequence of their performance, Zoltini looks for his wife while Pat has been sacked from the hotel for not paying attention to her job.[2]

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Filming took place at Waterloo Bridge which was still under construction.[3] Eliot Makeham who had an uncredited role as the doorman previously had roles in Mason's East Meets West and Take My Tip.[4] In the past when Patricia Roc saw several West End productions, she saw "many of the great actors" (including Michael Redgrave) perform on stage.[5] The "central plot" of A Window in London inspired Jules White's Hiss and Yell.[6]

Release[edit]

A Window in London was released theatrically in London in 1940 and 1942 in USA. The running time of the American release was 8 minutes shorter than the original running time.[7] In July 2015 (over 75 years after the film's theatrical release), the BFI launched the Britain On Film archive, in which thousands of unseen films (including A Window in London) have been digitised and available for viewing via the BFI player.[8] Later that year as part of the London on Film season from September to October, A Window in London was shown at BFI Southbank (near where filming took place).[9][10]

Reception[edit]

Despite being a rare and unseen film for 75 years, the film has recently been praised for the location used for shooting.[11] At the time, A Window in London was generally well received and marked out for the direction and narration.[12] The Monthly Film Bulletin praised the film for the use of location and the cast. This film is considered to be Patricia Roc's "best acting" role - despite not having as large a role as the other actors of the main cast. Additionally the Monthly Film Bulletin said that, "Patricia Roc gives a charming little character study of a working girl wife."[13] Although the New York Times said that it was "muddily photographed and poorly directed", Michael Hodgson considers the film to be one of Mason's "interesting films."[14] Tom Ryall mentions that the A Window in London contains similar themes to Hitchcock.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Keaney, 2008, p. 220
  2. ^ Spicer, 2010, pp. 88-9
  3. ^ "Window In London, A". parkcircus.com. Park Circus. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  4. ^ "Eliot Makeham". explore.bfi.org.uk. BFI. Retrieved 14 October 2015. 
  5. ^ Hodgson, 2013, p. 36
  6. ^ Hodgson, 2013, p.37
  7. ^ Hodgson, 2013, p. 37
  8. ^ "BFI launches Britain On Film archive". http://www.screendaily.com. Screen Daily. Retrieved 9 July 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  9. ^ Ed Elliott (14 October 2015). "A Window in London - BFI Retrospective". takeonecff.com. Take One. Retrieved 14 October 2015. A WINDOW IN LONDON is part of the BFI's ongoing 'London on Film' series 
  10. ^ "September - Early October 2015 at BFI Southbank Press Release" (PDF). bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 14 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "A Window in London 1939". player.bfi.org.uk. BFI Player. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  12. ^ The Cinema, 1 November 1939
  13. ^ Hodgson, 2013, p. 36
  14. ^ Hodgson, 2013, p. 37
  15. ^ Leitch and Poague, 2011, p. 282

Bibliography[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

  • The Cinema, 1 November 1939
  • The Monthly Film Bulletin, November 1939

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Gourvish, Terry. (2014). Dolphin Square: The History of a Unique Building. A & C Black
  • Hodgson, Michael. (2013). Patricia Roc. Author House
  • F. Keaney, Michael. (2008). British Film Noir Guide. Performing Arts
  • Leitch, Thomas and Poague, Lehand. (2011). A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock. John Wiley & Sons
  • Maltin, Leonard. (2015). Turner Classic Movies Presents Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide: From the Silent Era Through 1965. Penguin. Third edition
  • Spicer, Andrew. (2010). Historical Dictionary of Film Noir. Scarecrow Press

External links[edit]