|Margaret Lockwood and James Mason|
At an auction house in modern times two strangers talk about the famous painting, "The Man in Grey," and wonder what became of the family whose heirlooms are being sold. The rest of the film is a flashback that introduces us to the subject of said portrait, Lord Rohan (James Mason), as well as two students in a girls school: sunny blond Clarissa (Phyllis Calvert of The Root of All Evil), and the bitter brunette, Heather (Margaret Lockwood of Hungry Hill), who wants all the finer things in life that have been denied her. Rohan eventually marries Clarrisa, although he has little to do with her, but he develops a hankering for Heather after she is hired to be his wife's companion. Heather schemes to have Clarissa run off with the sympathetic Peter Rokeby (Stewart Granger), but when these plans don't quite come off Heather must think of another way to get Clarissa out of the picture ... Mason and Lockwood would be re-teamed two years later in the far superior Wicked Lady, for which this seems like a fair-to-middling prelude. Mason has some good moments but his character isn't well-defined -- none of the others are that dimensional, either -- and the script seems rambling and cobbled together with not enough dramatic payoff. Calvert and Lockwood are more than competent if a little too stagy at times. Martita Hunt is the head of the girls school and Antony Scott makes an impression as the little boy, Toby, who is sort of adopted by Clarissa.
Verdict: Half-baked British costume melodrama. **3/4.