Robert “Long John Silver” Newton gives the best performance of his career in this drama about a universally disliked man in his town and a dictator with his family. The movie is intense, melodramatic and one not to be missed. It takes place in Scotland in the year 1879
James Broddie (Robert Newton) is the wealthy owner of a hat shop. He’s building a castle outside of town and everyone jokingly refers to it as Hatter’s Castle. He’s all about getting ahead and claims to be related to a Lord. He pushes his son to be number one at school and that means no sports or anything else that will keep him from concentrating on his school work.
Nancy, the barmaid at Broddie’s club, is his mistress. Her former boyfriend Dennis (Emlyn Williams) comes back to town broke. She tells Broddie that he’s her half brother and cajoles him into giving Dennis a job at the hat shop. That means firing his assistant of twelve years. He could care less.
Broddie’s wife is sick and the family doctor hasn’t done her a bit of good. Behind her father’s back, his daughter Mary (Deborah Kerr) brings in young Dr.Renwick (James Mason). When Broddie gets home he throws him out. He tells Mary never to let him in again.
In town the Ironmonger next to Broddie says he’s selling his shop and offers it to Broddie so he can expand his business. He tells him to get out. When Broddie leaves Dennis offers the man to put him in touch with someone in London who will buy it. Dennis wants a piece of the action. It’s the owner of a hat store.
It’s the night of the big village ball. Mary gets ready to go until her father catches her giving his wife medicine from Renwick. He slaps Marry and orders her to stay home. At the ball Dennis leaves and brings food and champagne to Mary. Renwick wants to go see her but Mrs.Broddie has fainted and he can’t leave. He tells Broddie and the family doctor that she has terminal cancer. They don’t believe him.
Back at the house Broddie brings her back early and Mary hides Dennis in her room. Of course you know how they’ll occupy their time. The next day Renwick waits until Broddie leaves the house. He asks Mary to marry him but she turns him down.
It’s opening day of the new hat shop next door and people are avoiding Broddie’s. Mary tells Dennis she’s pregnant. He says he has plans for his open shop in London and thinks he’ll get the money from Broddie when he marries Mary. Then he finds out Broddie is broke and the mortgage on the house is way overdue. Then he asks Nancy for the money and Broddie catches them together.
Broddie goes after Dennis after he’s told about Mary’s condition. He pulls a gun and shoots Broddie. It’s just a graze. Broddie threatens to turn him in for attempted murder but changes his mind and tells him to leave town. Back home he tells Mary to get out. There’s a raging storm outside but he doesn’t care and tosses her outside to fend for herself.
The movie gets more intense and Broddie gets even more insufferable. If you miss good, solid drama be sure to look this one up.