Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Albert Lieven and Lilli Palmer
BEWARE OF PITY (1946). Director: Maurice Elvey.

When Lt. Anton Marek (Albert Lieven) visits the home of the Baron Kekesfalva (Ernest Thesiger), he encounters the man's daughter, whom he at first doesn't realize is in a wheelchair. When he learns that the daughter, Edith (Lilli Palmer), doesn't get out much due to her affliction, he begins paying calls on her, and the two become friends. Unfortunately, Edith's feelings for Anton become intensely romantic, and she pins her hopes for a full recovery on his alleged love for her and on an operation whose efficacy might just be mythical. Beware of Pity is based on a story by Stefan Zweig, who also wrote Letter From an Unknown Woman, but in this dark romance the man is the protagonist instead of the woman. Beware of Pity is a compelling tragedy which features some fine performances, especially from sensitive Lieven, a German actor who is essentially unknown today but appeared in many British and German films. Thesiger is fine as the concerned father; Gladys Cooper scores as a doctor's blind wife, who urges Anton to marry a woman he doesn't love out of compassion; and Cedric Hardwicke [The Winslow Boy] is also excellent as the doctor. Lilli Palmer [The House That Screamed], on the other hand, is unconvincing as Edith, and this greatly weakens the picture as a whole. An interesting aspect of the film is that when the final tragedy finally occurs, one isn't certain if Marek is heartbroken or relieved.

Verdict: Interesting psychological anti-romance with a fine lead performer from Lieven. ***.

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