Seventh Veil, The (1946) B+
Arthur Rank-Sydney Ortus (Universal)
In this Svengali British melodrama, directed by Compton Benett, Ann Todd stars as an amnesiac mental patient, Francesca Cunningham, who hopes that psychiatrist Dr. Larsen (Herbert Lom) will help her lift the veils of her memory.
In a series of flashbacks counterpointed by a lush piano concerto background score, Francesca discovers that she has been a victim of the cruelties of others all her life.
Only one man, Nicholas (James Mason), an embittered, crippled musician, has ever shown her any compassion, training the girl to become a top concert pianist. But even he turned on Francesca, when she becomes romantically involved with other men.
However, as the flashbacks end, Francesca finally realized Nicholas’s true feelings for her.
The acting, especially of Mason and Lom is superb, and the screenplay (which was nominated for an Oscar) pulls you into the story, despite its contrivances.
Shot on a small budget, “The Seventh Veil” was a huge hit, especially in the U.K., where it was the most popular film of 1946.
The tale belongs to a wave of films, both American and British, about psychiatry, such as Hitchcock’s “Spellbound,” which was made the year before.
You can always feel the influence of David Lean’s superior melodrama, “Brief Encounter,” particularly in the use of classic music as background score to heighten emotional response.
Husband and wife team, Sydney and Muriel Box (who divorced in 1969), are often credited with rejuvenating the British Film industry in the late 1930s and 1940s.
Oscar Nominations: 1
Original Screenplay: Muriel Box and Sydney Box
Oscar Awards: 1
Running time: 91 Minutes.
Directed by Compton Bennett
Screenplay: Muriel Box and Sydney Box.
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