The Man In Black (1949)

the man in black 1949

Betty Ann Davies makes this fun to watch as a scheming stepmother trying to drive her step daughter crazy so she can inherit the estate.

The movie opens with your storyteller, the man in black (Valentine Dyall). He tells the story of Henry Clavering and his delicate daughter Joan. Henry (Sydney James) is an expert on yoga. His wife Bertha (Betty Ann Davies) and step daughter Janice think he’s nuts. Janice can’t resist tossing smart remarks at him about it.

He tells them that he’s going to give a demonstration that night which will require putting himself into a deep trance. He warns that any noise could be fatal. Of course when he gets into a cataleptic state a picture falls off the wall. That’s it for Henry.

His delicate daughter Joan (Hazel Penwarden) is sent for. Bertha and Janice start scheming. Henry’s will leaves Bertha with five thousand pounds and Janice with a hundred. Joan gets everything when she turns twenty-one. If she becomes incapable of handing the estate’s affairs everything goes to Bertha.

The campaign is on. That night Joan hears and sees things. The next morning Bertha and Janice double team her and tell her her father was a violent man who batted Bertha around. Janice’s fiancee Victor comes by for a stay. He likes Joan. Janice gets jealous.

Henry’s long time loyal servant Hodson becomes friendly with Joan and warns her against Bertha and Janice. Joan is beginning to crack. She even mentions to Bertha that maybe she should handle things. Bertha lies to the estate lawyer about things Joan has been saying and doing. He doesn’t look like he’s buying it. Bertha’s been telling Joan that she’s psychic and thinks Henry may be trying to reach her from the other side. Bertha tells the lawyer that Joan’s been claiming that about herself.

Victor gets drunk and comes on strong to Joan and she runs outside. Victor follows. Hodson shows up and tells Victor he warned him about bothering Joan. Victor goes too far.

The movie is entertaining despite the familiar plot.

The opening credits say “Introducing Hazel Penwarden. She appeared in episodes of several TV shows but didn’t have much of a career.


About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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