The Franchise Affair
Time Out saysA strangled adaptation of Josephine Tey's mystery (itself based on the 18th century Elizabeth Canning case). Denison is the country solicitor retained by two women new to the area (Gray as the distressed daughter, Fielding as her battleaxe mother) accused of sequestering, starving and beating a local girl (Stephens) in an attempt to make her their servant. In the novel, the solicitor is shaken out of his complacency by what transpires, but you would never guess as much from Denison's wooden performance in a context - the direction consists largely of posing the actors in static groupings - which looks very much like a repertory company matinée, with risible 'opening out' attempts to portray the town's mounting harassment of the interlopers. All tension is soon dissipated, with Gray so palpitatingly innocent, and her accuser so clearly a lying minx, that the lengthy trial sequence becomes tiresomely redundant (except to explain the plot).