The Mark of Cain
The Mark of Cain – 1947 | 88 mins | Crime, Drama | B&W
Victorian murder melodrama based on the Marjorie Bowen (using the pseudonym Joseph Shearing) novel, Airing in a Closed Carriage. The pessimistic study of jealousy and intrigue finds a woman the object of desire in a deadly rivalry between two jealous brothers. Unfortunately the story never catches fire, one reason for this is the heavy-handed direction of Brian Desmond Hurst which fails to maintain adequate suspense. Dermot Walsh and Patrick Holt overplay their roles and both were a promise never really to be fulfilled, but Eric Portman dominates the film in a barnstorming acting performance. Sally Gray is somewhat inconsequential and there’s no spark of chemistry between the leads.
Sauvé Northern industrialist Richard Howard (Eric Portman) visits Bordeaux to seek cotton for his mills from Sarah Bonheur (Sally Gray), but he becomes enchanted by the lady and spends much of his business trip sight-seeing. His failure to close the deal signals the arrival of his bluff brother, John (Patrick Holt), who much to his jealous brother’s chagrin, sweeps Sarah off her feet and marries her. Distraught that her French manners don’t appeal her new husband, Sarah seeks advice from Richard.
However, Richard has got plans for her himself and attempts to convince her to divorce John and run off with him. Sarah considers divorcing her husband but the lawyers suggest she has no grounds for ending the marriage, and just as the couple are on the cusp of separating – they have reconciliation. Angry at their reunion, the wrathfully jealous Richard vows to have Sarah, and begins to gradually poison his brother. Dr. White (James Hayter) is suspicious of the circumstances behind John’s rapid decline, and when John subsequently dies, the circumstantial evidence of their rocky marriage and Sarah’s purchase of arsenic results in her standing trial for murder. Richard hopes that by defending Sarah he will win her love, but his spirited oratory fails and she is found guilty. Luckily for Sarah, another beau is on hand, Jerome Thorn (Dermot Walsh), and he is convinced he knows the identity of the poisoner.
Brian Desmond Hurst: Director
Erwin Hillier: Cinematography
Eleanor Abbey: Costume Design
Sidney Stone: Film Editing
Geoffrey Rodway: Makeup Department
Vivienne Walker: Makeup Department
Tony Sforzini: Makeup Department
Joseph Shearing: Novel
Bernard Stevens: Original Music
W.P. Lipscomb: Producer
Alex Vetchinsky: Production Design
Francis Crowdy: Script
Christianna Brand: Script
John Cook: Sound
L.E. Overton: Sound