Bedelia (film)

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"Bedelia" (1946).jpg
Directed by Lance Comfort
Produced by Isadore Goldsmith
Written by Vera Caspary
Herbert Victor
Isadore Goldsmith
Based on the novel by Vera Caspary
Starring Margaret Lockwood
Ian Hunter
Anne Crawford
Music by Hans May
Cinematography Freddie Young
Edited by Michael Truman
John Corfield Productions
Distributed by Eagle-Lion Films (US)
General Film Distributors (UK)
J. Arthur Rank Film (Germany)
Release date
May 1946 (UK)
7 February 1947 (USA)[1]
Running time
90 minutes
Country UK
Box office $350,000 (US)[2]

Bedelia is a 1946 British drama film directed by Lance Comfort and starring Margaret Lockwood, Ian Hunter and Barry K. Barnes.[3] It is an adaptation of the novel Bedelia by Vera Caspary with events moved from the United States to England and Monaco.


Bedelia Carrington (Margaret Lockwood) is apparently happily married and on her honeymoon in Monte Carlo with Charlie Carrington (Ian Hunter.) However, a cultivated young artist, Ben Chaney (Barry K. Barnes), begins probing into her past with curious concern. Chaney, in reality a detective, suspects that Bedelia's obsession for money has led her, in the past, to dispose of more than one husband for the insurance money.[4]

Main cast[edit]


Original Novel[edit]

The film was based on a novel by Vera Caspary which was published in 1945. It was about a middle aged bachelor called Charlie who married a widow, Bedelia, he meets at a summer resort in 1913. The New York Times said it was "guaranteed to raise gooseflesh on the hottest summer night."[5] The Los Angeles Times called it "one of the neatest and cleverest jobs of writing this season."[6]


The film version of Caspary's novel Laura had been a big hit in 1944 and there was much interest in Bedelia even before publication. Caspary enjoyed the film of Laura although had some reservations. "Hollywood simply can't visualise a girl who leads her own life, and in whom sex is not uppermost," said Caspary. "They always show the career woman as either frustrated or freakish. I know lots of balanced professional women who can take love or let it alone."[7]

This meant she was susceptible to approaches from British film companies as well as Hollywood. She also felt in Britain there was more respect for the writer.[8] In late 1944 she sold the film rights to producer Isadore Goldsmith, who had impressed Caspary with The Stars Look Down, and wanted to set up the film in England. Goldsmith arranged financing through John Cornfield Productions, a unit of the Rank Organisation.[9]

Caspary travelled to London to do an early draft of the script, which transplanted the action from Connecticut to Yorkshire.[7][10][11]

"The movie will probably have one or two Hollywood names in it and will be an Arthur Rank release," said said. "Mr Rank is another who was wonderful to me - but then in England even the producers respect writers... England is counting on pictures to be one of her great export items."[7]

Early contenders for the title role included Geraldine Fitzgerald, Vivien Leigh and Merle Oberon.[12][13] Later on Marlene Dietrich, Valerie Hobson and Linden Travers were mentioned. Donald Woods, then appearing in a stage version of Laura, was a front-runner for the male lead.[14]

Eventually Margaret Lockwood was cast in the lead, with Ian Hunter and Barry Barnes in support. It was Barnes' first film since The Girl in the News, also with Lockwood, and Hunter's first British film in 14 years. Jill Esmond, Laurence Olivier's first wife, was given a support role.


Filming began December 1945.[15] Filming was relatively elaborate by the standards of British filmmaking of the time.[16][17] Production ended in April 1946.

Goldsmith later optioned the film rights to Caspary's next novel, Out of the Blue.[18]

Alternative Endings[edit]

Prior to filming, Goldsmith submitted the script to the Johnston office in the US (the censor). They had issues with the proposed ending, where Bedelia committed suicide with the tacit encouragement of her her husband.[19][20] It was decided to shoot an additional ending for the American market where Bedelia turned herself in to the police. This sequence cost $63,000.[21] Lockwood thought it was "ridiculous" to have to shoot a new ending.[22] Most British observers who saw the two endings preferred the suicide one.[21]

When Goldsmith showed the final film to the US censor, they said he could use the British ending if he wanted. Goldsmith showed the film to various Hollywood observers and press and found they preferred the American ending. According to the New York Times, Goldsmith thought the difference of opinion between British and American observers went to "the relative position of women on the two sides of the Atlantic. Americans, he believes, prefer to see their heroines in the most favourable light, even at the sacrifice of integrity in character study."[21]

In addition to this, some scenes had to be reshot for the US because of Lockwood's cleaveage was over-exposed.[23]


Box Office[edit]

According to trade papers, the film was a "notable box office attraction" at British cinemas.[24]

US Release[edit]

The movie was the first released in America by Rank under its new agreement with Eagle Lion Films, which Rank part owned. Rank hoped it would be a success, but it only grossed $350,000.[2]


In terms of the critics, TV Guide noted, "Margaret Lockwood appears in one of her best villainous roles, played this time with subtlety";[25] while Leonard Maltin called the film "absorbing but not terribly suspenseful";[4] The New York Times described it as "pretty much of a disappointment";[26] and Noir of the Week wrote, "Laura is often identified as one of the all-time great noir films...but in many ways, Bedelia is the better, more complex, and subversive film." [27]

"They [the filmmakers] did very well by me, I think," said Caspary later.[28] She went on to sign a ten-year contract with Eagle Lion, calling for one story a year.[29]

Radio adaptation[edit]

Bedelia was presented on Hollywood Star Time 26 October 1946. Herbert Marshall and Gene Tierney starred in the adaptation.[30]


  1. ^ M'MURRAY TO PLAY LEAD IN 'SINGAPORE': Actor Is Signed by Universal- International for Picture-- Fox Engages Moss Hart By THOMAS F. BRADYSpecial to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 3 Feb 1947: 22
  2. ^ a b Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 32
  3. ^ "Bedelia". BFI. 
  4. ^ a b "Bedelia (1946) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies. 
  5. ^ A Gentle Poisoner By WILLIAM DU BOIS. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 1 July 1945: 76.
  6. ^ Peril Gives Novel of Marital Bliss Bit of Mystery Interest Elwood, Irene. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 July 1945: C4.
  7. ^ a b c British to Film 'Laura' Author's Latest Novel: British Win Second Vera Caspary Hit Hollywood Scooped by English Deal With 'Laura' Author Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 Sep 1945: B1.
  8. ^ "FILM WORLD". The West Australian. 63, (18,928). Western Australia. 14 March 1947. p. 22 (SECOND EDITION.). Retrieved 3 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ BY WAY OF REPORT By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 10 Dec 1944: X7
  10. ^ "STORY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL FILMS". Cairns Post (14,029). Queensland, Australia. 19 February 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 3 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  11. ^ Snow, Beards and Backgrounds: .. Snow, Beards, and ... By Vera CasparyThe author of the above article is now in England working with John Corfield of "The Stars Look Down" movie, on the filming of her novel, "Bodelia.". The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 22 Sep 1945: B7.
  12. ^ O'Brien in Mexico Yarn; Hodiak 'Frankie' Star Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 May 1945: A2.
  13. ^ 'Bedelia' Interpreter Quest Gains Momentum Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 May 1945: A2.
  14. ^ Author Hears Dietrich Likely 'Bedelia' Star Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 13 Oct 1945: A5.
  15. ^ NOTES FROM LONDON: Down, But Not Out By C. A. LEJEUNE. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 11 Nov 1945: 47.
  16. ^ FILM ACTIVITIES IN LONDON: Radar's Role in the War to Be Revealed in 'Top Secret'-- Carol Reed to Make Odd Man Out' in Ireland Radar Deception With a Tint of Green Reset By C.A. LEJEUNE. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 27 Jan 1946: X3.
  17. ^ "Dogs, cats, gorgeous gowns in "Bedelia"". The Australian Women's Weekly. 13, (47). Australia, Australia. 4 May 1946. p. 36. Retrieved 3 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  18. ^ EAGLE-LION TO FILM NOVEL BY CASPARY: Studio Acquires 'Out of Blue' for $50,000 Down Payment --Goldsmith to Produce Of Local Origin Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 26 Oct 1946: 21.
  19. ^ "Stricter Movie Morals Tipped By Insiders". The Newcastle Sun (8683). New South Wales, Australia. 26 October 1945. p. 7. Retrieved 3 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  20. ^ NOTES FROM LONDON'S FILM STUDIOS: Thriller What, No Love Affair? By C.A. LEJEUNE. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 23 Dec 1945: X5.
  21. ^ a b c HOLLYWOOD: Censoring of 'Bedelia' Has Amusing Results Arbiter Goes Home Heading South By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 24 Nov 1946: 85.
  22. ^ British Film Star Irked by Censors: 'Silly,' Says Margaret Lockwood in Trans-Atlantic Phone Chat Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 9 Mar 1947: B1.
  23. ^ "Margaret Lockwood's fame brings problems". The Australian Women's Weekly. 15, (23). Australia, Australia. 15 November 1947. p. 32. Retrieved 3 April 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  24. ^ Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p209
  25. ^ "Bedelia". TV Guide. 
  26. ^ "Movie Review - Bedelia - ' Bedelia,' Psychological Thriller Based on Vera Caspary Book, With Margaret Lockwood in Lead, New Bill at Victoria -". 
  27. ^ "Film Noir of the Week: Bedelia (1946)". 
  28. ^ Fad of Reissuing Old Films Grows -- A Chat With an Author -- Other Items By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 16 Feb 1947: X5.
  29. ^ DRAMA AND FILM: Kelly 'East River' Star; Mt. McKinley Saga Set Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 13 Mar 1947: A3.
  30. ^ "Hollywood Host". Harrisburg Telegraph. 26 October 1946. p. 21. Retrieved 29 September 2015 – via  open access publication – free to read

External links[edit]