The brief synopsis without spoilers... Blanche (Valerie Hobson), tired of her poor and lowly positions as nurse/companion/house servant to a series of old ladies, receives a notice that her uncle would like her to come home and take a position as governess for her young cousin, Lavinia. The new position brings considerable more money with it, and ambitious for wealth and stability, Blanche marries her cousin, Lawrence(Michael Gough), which gives her the Fury surname... which her cousins appear to have appropriated from the previous, true owners of the estate when they left no legitimate heir. Things are complicated by the presence of Philip Thorn (Stewart Granger), who is the illegitimate son of the last Fury. He's quite bitter over not owning the estate himself and having to be groundskeeper for the usurpers. Blanche falls for him, even though she marries the other guy. Complications, illicit romance, murder, courtroom drama, perhaps a supernatural curse result from this mix of characters.
Okay, that wasn't brief at all! It's all quite complicated, which I admit I liked.
I think the movie just confused me because I kept flipflopping on how I reacted to the characters. In the first scenes, Blanche is so unpleasant, that I wondered how I'd make it through a movie with her as the lead. Then she turned really nice. Then she turned a bit mean again. Then she turned nice... it was odd. Same with Philip, played with lovely, simmering anger by Stewart Granger. He seems rightfully angry, then he takes it a couple steps too far, then a few steps really too far, then he comes back and I like him again... So I never could decide if I liked or disliked these people.
On the clear dislike list: Michael Gough as Lawrence was quite the despicable character, and he played it marvelously. On the clear like list: Lavinia (Suzanne Gibbs) was sweet and nice the whole time.
Then there's the whole possible curse on the estate, always lurking in the background. I rather enjoyed that. Gave the film a bit of a Gothic, horror cast to it that fit well with the mansion's dark shadowy corners and the sordid deeds of the plot.
There's a whole courtroom section... I didn't like that. Of course, it's a very very very rare film that makes me like anything set in a courtroom.
I did love the two lead actors. They did a great job and worked played well off each other. Valerie Hobson had the right look for her character: beautiful and austere, but soft when she needed to be. Stewart Granger was full of sharp edges, all dangerous and broody and stormy (except when his character was around horses, then he would turn gentle). His character had just one obsessive goal and watching his schemes turn darker and darker to achieve it was fascinating. I think the fact that he is so darned handsome makes his role work even better, because you want to like and trust him, even when he's scowling and plotting. I would have been more than a bit terrified of him, if I were in that movie.
It was definitely an engrossing film, and I wasn't sure how it would end, which is also something I liked about this movie. I should also mention the score by Clifton Parker, which was really neat and fit the movie perfectly. I loved the main theme in particular. Wouldn't mind owning this score on CD at all. It set the scene and the mood perfectly. And there was an intriguing use of color! Look at this shot, all blue, red, white. Very striking.
I think now, after writing this up, that I want to see it again. Now that I know the plot and the characters and how it wraps up, I think I'd like to go back and see how it fit together.