Maria Marten, or The Murder in the Red Barn (1935)

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Maria Marten, or The Murder in the Red Barn (1935). 1h 10m | Approved

“Many of Todu0026#39;s melodramas like Maria Marten and The Face at the Window had been filmed numerous times since the dawn of British cinema. But in partnership with quota quickie producer George King, Tod stepped in front of film cameras for the first time to capture his signature role of Squire William Corder on celluloid. A typical 2-week residency at a provincial fleapit by Todu0026#39;s company would consist of Maria Marten the first week and Sweeney the second.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eMilton Rossmer handled directorial chores on this one instead of King and the difference shows. The camera is relatively mobile and seeks a number of interesting angles – especially as it prowls around the red Barn as Tod prepares to shoot the luckless Maria. Production values and period design are relatively high for what is in essence one of the much-derided quota-quickies. Tod is the central figure and a sympathetic, multi-faceted role for all his evil. At the opening barn dance, he is the life-and-soul of the party and ensures that all his guests are enjoying themselves as he cuts a merry caper on the dance floor. The flighty Maria is much taken with him – and who can blame her when the only alternative is the sullen Carlos the Gypsy. Far from being the callow young suitor who normally opposed Todu0026#39;s leering baddies, Carlos is impulsive and a bit too handy with a knife for comfort. His pursuit of the uninterested Maria verges on stalking and Eric Portman plays him with an authority that matches Tod. The confrontation in the drawing room between the 2 men after Corder has received his dowry is an interesting conflict of two differing acting styles and I had to admire the way Corder was able to signal for help despite been at the mercy of Carlos. Tod Slaughter also demonstrates what a skilled comedy actor he was with some amusing interludes as he loses heavily at dice to a suavely-sleazy Dennis Hoey His facial contortions are a joy, as is his swindling of idiot Tim Winterbottom and his scarcely-concealed repulsion from his intended – the big-nosed Psalmist. By the end of the 30u0026#39;s, Todu0026#39;s acting style was, even then, regarded as pass? and a bit of a joke. He was often reduced to performing shortened dramatic acts on stage on the ABC cinema circuit. Nonetheless, he kept active throughout his life (American soldiers stationed in Belfast during the war seeing him on stage didnu0026#39;t know what to make of him).”


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