The Fan (1949 film)
1950 US Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Otto Preminger|
|Written by||Walter Reisch|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
The Fan is a 1949 American drama film directed by Otto Preminger. The screenplay by Dorothy Parker, Walter Reisch, and Ross Evans is based on the 1892 play Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde. The play had been filmed several times before, with a 1916 silent film, a later adaptation by Ernst Lubitsch in 1925 as well as versions in Spanish and Chinese.
The film opens in a post-World War II London auction house, where an elderly woman is trying to acquire an attractive fan she claims was once hers. A flashback to the Victorian era of Wilde's play reveals she is the scandalous Mrs. Erlynne, who in middle age becomes entangled with Lord Arthur Windermere, whose young and beautiful but socially conservative wife Margaret tends to judge others harshly. Lord Windermere financially supports Mrs. Erlynne, allowing her to live in the elegant manner to which she's accustomed, and the couple become the favorite subject of local gossips. When Margaret hears the stories, she mistakenly believes the two are involved in a clandestine affair and subsequently allows herself to succumb to the charms of Lord Robert Darlington, who has made no secret of his ongoing romantic interest in her. In order to ensure the younger woman does not make the same mistakes she has in the past, Mrs. Erlynne reveals a shocking secret - she is Lady Windermere's mother, whom Margaret was told had died when the woman abandoned her husband and daughter for another man. In order to protect the girl's reputation, Mrs. Erlynne sacrifices her own happiness by placing herself in a compromising position that jeopardizes her pending marriage to Augustus Lorton.
- Madeleine Carroll ..... Mrs. Erlynne
- Jeanne Crain ..... Margaret Windermere
- Richard Greene ..... Arthur Windermere
- George Sanders ..... Robert Darlington
- Martita Hunt ..... Duchess of Berwick
- Hugh Dempster ..... Lord Augustus Lorton
- Richard Ney ..... James Hopper
Principal production credits
- Producer ..... Otto Preminger
- Original Music ..... Daniele Amfitheatrof
- Cinematography ..... Joseph LaShelle
- Art Direction ..... Leland Fuller, Lyle R. Wheeler
- Set Decoration ..... Paul S. Fox, Thomas Little
- Costume Design ..... René Hubert, Charles Le Maire
In his review in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther observed, "Most of the brittle wit and satire of Mr. Wilde's conversation piece has been lost in the making of this . . . nicely costumed picture [which] is a strangely uninspired nostalgic romance."
TV Guide rates the film two out of a possible four stars and comments, "Preminger's version, despite a strong cast, was bowdlerized by the scripters into a soapy mess . . . As is too often the case with filmed classics, dialog was sacrificed to further a perverted plot. Wilde's witty aphorisms were excised, and with them went any merit the film might have had."