Woman in White (1948)

Walter Hartright (Gig Young) is traveling to Limmeridge, England to work as a drawing teacher at the Fairlie estate. While walking the final few miles to the estate, he encounters a woman dressed in white. A little further down the road, a man asks him if he’s seen anyone on the road. Walter keeps the woman’s secret, knowing she’s hiding from something.

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(Image via Movie Poster Shop)

Upon arriving at the estate, Walter meets Laura (Eleanor Parker), who bears a striking resemblance to the woman in the woods.  Is Laura living some sort of odd double life, or is the family hiding a bigger secret?

Woman in White was directed by Peter Godfrey. The screenplay was written by Stephen Morehouse Avery from a novel by Wilkie Collins.

I had pretty high hopes for this film. It has one hell of a cast!

They do not disappoint, I’m glad to report. Eleanor Parker, Alexis Smith, Sydney Greenstreet, and Agnes Moorehead are all fantastic. Greenstreet steals most scenes he’s in. Parker is wonderful in a dual role, playing two very different characters who turn out to have more in common than is first apparent.

The pace can be a bit laggy, but there’s a certain elegance to the film, in its carefully measured performances and storytelling. Though the plot contains plenty of secrets and madness, the film doesn’t always tend toward melodrama. (I love a good melodrama, but this was a nice change of pace.)

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(Image via My Rare Films)

One of my favorite elements of the story is the strong friendship between Smith and Parker’s characters. A sense of danger and fear for them grows as the film progresses, but there’s also a sense that together, they can conquer anything that comes their way.

The epilogue ending is a touch too clean and happy considering all of the trouble that came before, but it didn’t bother me much, since I was so happy to see Miriam and Laura triumph. I really enjoyed this film, and plan on seeking out the novel, which I’ve heard is even better!

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