James Brodie (Robert Newton of Obsession) owns a hat shop in a small British township and not only has pretensions but an alleged connection to the peerage. The huge house he has built and can hardly afford to keep is called "Hatter's Castle" by the townspeople. Brodie takes out his anger on his dying wife (Beatrice Varley) and pretty daughter, Mary (Deborah Kerr of The Night of the Iguana), but reserves his only affection for his young son, Angus (Tony Bateman), on whom he pins his hopes. The hypocritical Brodie turns his daughter out when she becomes pregnant by his slimy clerk, Dennis (Emlyn Williams), but keeps a mistress, Nancy (Enid Stamp-Taylor), in town, whom he later hires as his housekeeper! This is Newton's picture -- James Mason [Caught] has a relatively small role as a doctor who ministers to Mrs. Brodie and falls in love with Mary despite everything that happens. Mason is excellent, as is everyone else in the cast, with Newton giving an especially strong and flavorful performance (although one could argue that at times Newton threatens to turn into a caricature of a palm-rubbing silent movie villain -- and the movie certainly has elements of silent melodrama). Based on a novel by A. J. Cronin, Hatter's Castle is an absorbing film full of dramatic and moving incident; it moves fast and plays very well.
Verdict: Superior British melodrama with a gripping Newton, lovely Kerr and stalwart Mason. ***.