Madeleine

One of three films Lean made virtually as star vehicles for his wife Ann Todd. Here she manages to extend the range of her semi-hysterical screen personality into a flimsily forceful character who pits her amoral deviousness against the rigid hypocrisy of Victorian Glasgow. Lean strongly emphasises her vulnerability: her French lover (Desny) is a preening bully, her father (Banks) a fire-eating patriarch, and her passage to the courtroom (accused of poisoning the lover) is marked by the furious rantings of a male mob. Where the film is remarkable, though, is in never allowing her to become simply a victim. She dares to expose and enjoy her sensuality, and cunningly exploits the prim reticence expected of a Victorian miss to avoid submission to marriage, deflecting the hostile gaze of outraged society with a proudly enigmatic vanity.

Release details

Duration: 114 mins

Cast and crew

Director: David Lean
Screenwriter: Nicholas Phipps, Stanley Haynes
Cast: Leslie Banks
Norman Wooland
Ann Todd
Andre Morell
Ivor Barnard
Ivan Desny
Elizabeth Sellars
Edward Chapman
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