Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on July 30th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: UK, October 3rd, 1950
Director: Anthony Asquith
Writer: John Cresswell (original story and screenplay)
Cast: Jean Kent, Dirk Bogarde, John McCallum, Susan Shaw, Hermione Baddeley, Charles Victor, Vida Hope.
DVD released: July 26th, 2010
Approximate running time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Fullscreen
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Odeon Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £12.99
Agnes “Astra” Huston (Jean Kent), a fortune teller at a run-down fair, is found strangled to death in her bedroom. The police track down and interview five witnesses/suspects and their interactions with Astra are shown in flashbacks from their highly suspicious points of view. With five significantly different takes on the dead woman’s personality who are the police to believe? And just who was the woman in question really?
First ever DVD release of this lost British classic. Directed by Anthony Asquith, a prolific British filmmaker that worked steadily from the silent era all the way through to the 1960’s and will most fondly be remembered perhaps for his 1930’s adaptation of Pygmalion starring Leslie Howard. A Woman In Question revolves around a Rashomon-like narrative of multiple differing perspectives, or rather a Citizen-Kane-like narrative, given that Rashomon was released the same year as this film. With a Hitchcockian feel to it this blackly comic whodunit deftly moves between the multiple points of view of the characters and skips backwards and forwards through the plot’s timeline with an ease and clarity of structure that the writers of Lost might surely envy. It’s a tightly scripted ensemble piece with a wonderful central performance. The acting is uniformly excellent throughout but the standout is Jean Kent as the titular ill-fated fortune teller; essentially portraying five versions of the same character Kent thankfully proves to be an actress equal to the task, ranging from a porcelain featured glamor goddess to an apathetic rough spoken alcoholic bint to a prim and proper housewife – it’s a performance that is a joy to watch and apparently Bette Davis missed out on this part. The young relative newcomer Dirk Bogarde had me cringing at his awful American accent at first until it was explained that his character is a liverpudlian pretending to be a yank and another damn fine actor was revealed, only a supporting role here for the Dirkster here though. Final mention must go to the offbeat cadaverous Duncan Macrae in the key role of Superintendent Lodge, a copper that seems to be channeling the essence of the Grim Reaper.
A fun 50’s murder mystery that will keep you guessing to the very end about the identity of the killer and even longer about just which version of Astra is the most accurate – Jean Kent (in ‘Sixty Voices’ by Brian McFarlane) felt the episode closest to the real character in her view was the happy-go-lucky girl as seen by the Irish sailor and her least favorite was the old louche as seen through the eyes of the sister.
In it’s original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 fullframe the picture is excellent overall with a luminous transfer despite some very minor, fairly unnoticeable instances of print damage and dirt. Excellent detail and contrast levels. The mono audio track is clean and clear, with the rather good soundtrack coming through perfectly balanced alongside the dialog.
Extras include a bevy of original theatrical trailers for more titles in Odeon Entertainment’s Best Of British Collection namely; Brass Monkey, Dilemma, Don’t Talk To Strange Men, Dr Terrors House Of Horrors, Girl In The Headlines, Spare The Rod, The Man On The Eiffel Tower and Tomorrow At Ten.