Black Orchid (1953)

Dr. John Winnington (Ronald Howard) is a man whose marriage is quite an unhappy one. His wife Sophie (Mary Laura Wood) is beautiful, but their relationship has gone cold.

She doesn’t trust him, seeing him as a man incapable of keeping his promises. He’s more dedicated to his work at the hospital than to his marriage, and thinks that Sophie is too critical of his “casual” treatment of her, as she describes it.

(Image via Netflix)

(Image via Netflix)

Though there isn’t much love between them, Dr. Winnington would never wish harm to his wife. She says she’ll divorce him when she’s ready, and neither of them are content to stay in a bad marriage.

But John falls in love with Sophie’s sister Christine (Olga Edwardes), a fellow medical researcher, things get complicated for everyone involved.

Charles Saunders (The Woman Eater) directs 1953’s Black Orchid, a murderous British melodrama. The screenplay was written by Francis Edge (The Hideout) and John Temple-Smith (The Island of Dr. Moreau).

Running at just about an hour long, Black Orchid is a quick and formulaic drama of love triangles and the damage that results from them. There is one major twist thrown in (which, as usual, I won’t spoil), but this twist does nothing to elevate the story, instead taking it down a similarly predictable route.

Though the story is quite simple and familiar, the film isn’t a bad one. The roles are quite well-cast, with Ronald Howard playing the long-suffering, workaholic husband.

Mary Laura Wood is the stand-out of the film as his scheming, disgruntled wife. Olga Edwardes, likewise, plays the role of the sweet, girl-next-door love interest quite well. Edwardes and Wood are believable as sisters, which is always a plus in films like this, which are centered partially around sibling drama.

The cast makes Black Orchid enjoyable enough of a watch, especially since it’s such a quick one. However, I can’t recommend the film highly. The story’s been told about a million times, and you can find better versions of it in other classic films. Still, it’s worth tuning in once for the performance of Mary Laura Wood, a mostly-forgotten but very talented actress. The score: 2.5/5

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