Fanny by Gaslight (film)

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Fanny by Gaslight
Fanny by Gaslight (1944 film).jpg
UK promotional poster
Directed by Anthony Asquith
Produced by Edward Black
Written by Michael Sadleir (novel) Doreen Montgomery (screenplay)
Aimée Stuart (additional dialogue)
Starring Phyllis Calvert
James Mason
Wilfrid Lawson
Stewart Granger
Music by Cedric Mallabey
Cinematography Jack E. Cox
Edited by R. E. Dearing
Release date
May 1944 (UK)
1946 (France)
1948 (USA)
Running time
107 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £90,000[1]
Box office $17,285 (US rentals)[2]
over ₤300,000 (UK)[3]
786,581 admissions (France)[4]

Fanny by Gaslight (US title – Man of Evil) is a 1944 British drama film, produced by Gainsborough Pictures, set in the 1870s and adapted from a novel by Michael Sadleir (also adapted as a 1981 mini-series). It was one of its famous period-set "Gainsborough melodramas". Its US release was delayed for its breaking the Hays Purity Code, and 17 minutes were removed for this release.


Fanny (Phyllis Calvert) finishes at boarding school in 1880 and returns to London, where she witnesses Lord Manderstoke (James Mason) fight and kill her supposed father. She soon learns that her family has run a brothel next door to her home and (on her mother's death) that he was not her real father. She goes to meet her real father – a respected politician – and falls in love with Harry Somerford (Stewart Granger), his advisor. Manderstoke continues to thwart her happiness.



Stewart Granger later said he "didn't like" the film because of its "drippy characters" but thought "Asquith was much the best of those directors I worked with at Gainsborough."[5]


It was the second most popular film in Britain during 1944, after This Happy Breed.[6] However, it performed very badly at the box office in the US.[2]


  1. ^ Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 By Robert Murphy p 55
  2. ^ a b Geoffrey Macnab, J. Arthur Rank and the British Film Industry, London, Routledge (1993) p164
  3. ^ "Actor's Views May Bring Ban". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 13 September 1945. p. 2. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Box office information for Stewart Granger films in France at Box Office Story
  5. ^ Brian MacFarlane, An Autobiography of British Cinema, Methuen 1997 p 230
  6. ^ Reeves p.180


  • MacFarlane, B. (1997) An Autobiography of British Cinema, Methuen. ISBN 0413726703.
  • Reeves, N. (2003) The power of film propaganda: myth or reality?, Continuum: London. ISBN 9780826473905.

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