Woman in Chains (1932) Poster

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9/10
Nares Aside
drednm11 January 2020
This film is often considered to be the first film produced by Ealing Studio. It starts out as a standard shipboard romance between the ship's doctor (Owen Nares) and a bored and neglected housewife (Betty Stockfeld). But once on dry land, it turns into a psychological thriller.

It seems that the hypochondriac husband (Allan Jeayes) is abusive and jealous of Betty's attraction to Owen, but he needs an operation that only Owen can perform. So he writes a letter to his attorney, to be opened if he dies during the operation, stating that Betty has had an affair with Owen and that they did away with him. He hands the letter to his footman (George Curzon) to mail.

Owen is then forced into performing the operation. But the footman has a long-standing dislike of his employer, and he has his own reason for seeing him dead. Will he survive the operation? Will Betty and Owen find happiness?

Yes, the acting is broad but the film gets better as it goes along and the "plot thickens." Co-stars include Florence Harwood as the cook and Aubrey Mather as Dr. Bartlett.
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7/10
A fascinating talkie for silent film fans
Spondonman14 March 2014
I never thought Fritz Kreisler's dignified and melancholic Caprice Viennois could be used to express carefree jauntiness but it's managed in this film - it expresses more in seconds than the multitude of words spoken. And all the Words in here are enunciated with capitals and a fervency usually … er unheard of outside of silent films…

Listless young woman Betty Stockfeld married to manic old before his time hypochondriac Allan Jeayes falls for a dashing doctor past his prime Owen Nares on a foreign cruise, the drama transfers two years later to London where the hypochondriac's enigmatic and hardly impassive footman with a past George Curzon gets into the picture. These four main characters hammed it up for all they were worth which together with decent production values and nice photography gave me an enjoyable if predictable melodrama. I nearly always like simple and hoary films like this, like when the font's in bold it can be easier to remember. Favourite bits: Curzon's mad shadow-heightened interlude at the camera to a cringing Jeayes; the "inhuman devil" Jeayes' occasional lapses into a Roderick Femm soundalike; Nares' black-hole stiff seriousness at all times – what a barrel of laughs he would be for a romance-starved woman! For a quota quickie all wonderful stuff! The morally dubious ending was just the icing on the cake. One of the cherubic Aubrey Mathers first films.

I liked it - it creaks badly so it won't be to everyone's taste of course, but if nothing else I notice one of the previous commenters was unusually almost charitable towards it, so maybe it really must be rather good.
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5/10
The eternal footman snickers
allenrogerj12 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A quota quickie which is worth seeing for two extra-ordinary performances by George Curzon as the footman of the title and Allan Jeayes as a cruel hypochondriac who actually becomes ill. Both are nearly over the edge of parody but just stay this side of it and are genuinely believable and chilling. The two plots- surgeon who must operate to save the husband of the woman he loves and man who becomes servant in the house of the man he wants to take revenge on- are clichés, but are well-handled and mesh together well. The scenes between Simpson and Marwood, with Simpson holding himself in rein, but with his contempt and hatred just hidden from his employer are superbly done and the lovers are made not to seem absurd or contemptible. Direction and camera work are skilled and competent throughout and there's a fine scene of an operation with an audience of surgeons watching and gossipping among themselves that is an example of skillful economy of means.
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4/10
Would have been good except for...............
Lucy-Lastic14 September 2016
............Owen Nares who's "acting" in the latter part of the film where he has to make life changing decisions re her and her husband's operation is laughable. The many dramatic drawn out pauses had me thinking that Betty Stockfeld (leading lady/love interest) was going to burst out any moment with an "It's your line now", thinking that Owen had dried.

To be fair on him though, I suppose this is what comes of doing too many silent films; although everyone else (including the bit part actors) acted him off the "stage".

Well worth a look, even if it was for the laughs at Owen Nares' expense.
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6/10
wildly overacted
malcolmgsw12 January 2007
This film is currently being shown at the NFT as part of the "Quota Quickies season.It stars Owen Nares who ,it is difficult to believe,was one of the heartthrobs of the 1930s.Let us say that he throws himself into his role with great gusto as if playing to the back row of the Upper circle.His melodramatics are more than matched by Allan Jeayes as the hypochondriac husband of the woman he loves.However George Curzon as the eponymous footman rather steals the show because if anything he is rather underplaying his role till the conclusion.There are some rather interesting undercurrents to do with social standing and views on the First World War.I spotted a very young George Colouris playing a waiter.Interestingly enough this film was directed by Ealing Studio head Basil Dean.Obviously not too great with actors!
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