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.
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.)
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!