Rent Fanny by Gaslight (1944)

3.5 of 5 from 53 ratings
1h 43min
Rent Fanny by Gaslight (aka Man of Evil) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Returning to 1870's London after finishing at boarding school, Fanny (Phyllis Calvert) witnesses the death of her father in a fight with Lord Manderstoke (James Mason). She then finds that her family has for many years been running a bordello next door to their home. When her mother dies shortly after, she next discovers that her real father is in fact a well-respected politician. Meeting him and then falling in love with his young adviser Harry Somerford (Stewart Granger) leads to a life of ups and downs and conflict between the classes. Periodically the scoundrel of a Lord crosses her path, always to tragic effect.
, , Gloria Sydney, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Guy Gy-Mas
Edward Black
Michael Sadleir, Doreen Montgomery, Aimée Stuart
Man of Evil
Classics, Drama, Romance
Getting to Know..., Getting to Know: James Mason, Top 10 British Actresses of the 1940s, Top Films
Release Date:
Run Time:
103 minutes
English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
B & W

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Reviews (2) of Fanny by Gaslight

Faithful Portrayal of an Unknown Classic Novel - Fanny by Gaslight review by CV

Spoiler Alert

I was pleasantly surprised that Cinemaparadiso had this film as I had recently read the original novel hidden away in the "Classics" section of the local library. The dominant theme is that of class prejudice where a government minister falls in love with a young lady of dubious background. She had been born out of wedlock and was adopted by her mother's subsequent husband who ran a brothel "downstairs". The girl is educated and is innocent of her step-father's double occupation. The family falls on hard times and Fanny has to make her way relying on family friends and a long-standing friend, Lucy, who has becomes a dancer and actor. Made during the war, the film does well and is a good Sunday afternoon watch. Note a young James Mason as a villain and a very young Stewart Grainger in their early careers.

Incidentally, the novel is told by an elderly Fanny who has retired in a French Pension, looking back over her life. There is much that is poignant in the novel, more detail of the brothel activities and characters who are staunch, generous and kind despite their lowly circumstances.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Historical Melodrama. - Fanny by Gaslight review by Steve

Spoiler Alert

Typical Gainsborough melodrama set in 1880s London with Phyllis Calvert as a good girl born outside marriage who is thrown to the mercy of Victorian hypocrisy before being rescued by a progressive MP (Stewart Granger). Fanny is raised above a brothel and eventually cohabits with her broadminded suitor... so the film was heavily cut for US release.

But with Hollywood soon to enter the McCarthy era, maybe it was the politics that offended. The film's subtext is the toxicity of the class system and the callousness of a society where the poor and weak are abandoned without hope. When Granger is on his hind legs declaiming that everyone deserves a fair chance, he may as well be campaigning for Attlee.

This is febrile stuff. Everything is exaggerated. When the heroine succumbs to illicit love, it's all the way to a hotel in bohemian Paris. When she suffers, she is a washerwoman mucking in with the uncouth mob. Phyllis lacks charisma and beauty as the demure Fanny, and is dominated by the surly James Mason, again playing the brutal, immoderate aristocrat.

Indeed, Jean Kent is more vivacious in a role presumably not substantial enough for Margaret Lockwood. Naturally, the plot resolves with a duel at misty dawn. It delivers plenty of what the audience paid for, principally Mason snorting like a lusty horse. Not the best Gainsborough melodrama, but it is delightfully artful trash.

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