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Portrait of Clare (1950) HD online

Portrait of Clare (1950) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Drama
Original Title: Portrait of Clare
Director: Lance Comfort
Writers: Adrian Alington,Leslie Landau
Released: 1950
Duration: 1h 40min
Video type: Movie
Cast overview, first billed only:
Margaret Johnston Margaret Johnston - Clare Hingston
Richard Todd Richard Todd - Robert Hart
Robin Bailey Robin Bailey - Dudley Wilburn
Ronald Howard Ronald Howard - Ralph Hingston
Jeremy Spenser Jeremy Spenser - Steven Hingston
Marjorie Fielding Marjorie Fielding - Aunt Cathie
Molly Urquhart Molly Urquhart - Thirza
Beckett Bould Beckett Bould - Bissell
Anthony Nicholls Anthony Nicholls - Dr. Boyd
Lloyd Pearson Lloyd Pearson - Sir Joseph Hingston
Mary Clare Mary Clare - Lady Hingston
Griffiths Moss Griffiths Moss - Bates (as S. Griffiths-Moss)
Campbell Copelin Campbell Copelin - Inspector Cunningham
Bruce Seton Bruce Seton - Lord Steven Wolverbury
Yvonne Andre Yvonne Andre - Marguerite

Reviews: [4]

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    This is a charming and delightful tale, told in languid fashion, of the life story of the character Clare Hingston (played by Margaret Johnston), as she relates it to her own granddaughter to tell her the importance of true love. It is based on a novel by the popular novelist Francis Brett Young (1884-1954). The tale is set in Yorkshire, and most of it takes place towards the end of the 19th century. Clare falls deeply in love with 'the love of her life' Ralph Hingston and marries him. But he drowns before the birth of their son, Stephen. This leads to years of lonely young widowhood, with Clare consoling herself by playing endless Brahms, Chopin, and Schumann on her piano, while young Stephen (excellently played by child actor Jeremy Spenser) grows up to become rather disturbed and difficult to handle. Clare's parents-in-law the Hingstons are nouveaux-riches who have made a fortune from 'trade', live in a gigantic house, and have obtained or bought a title. Lady Hingston, played by the fiery Mary Clare at full volume, is a monstrous harridan and arch-snob, giving Clare no end of hell over this and that, claiming 'my grandson' and constantly trying to take him to her house, and responsible for endless trouble and stress. Worn down by it all, the dreamy Clare (played with a rather tepid gentility and delicacy by Johnston, so that one wonders why any man would get excited about her, but then this was Victorian England I suppose) finally succumbs to the entreaties of her lawyer Dudley Wilburn (played very well by Robin Bailey, with obnoxious dignity) to marry him. She does not love him at all, but she does this 'to provide a father for Stephen' and also to act as a barrier to the horrible Lady Hingston. Big mistake! He turns out to be a nightmare as a husband, fastidious, tedious, petty, tyrannical, loveless, and he not only hates young Stephen but shows it. Eventually this drives the child to run away by jumping out of a window in a severe thunderstorm and nearly getting killed. So, faced with such an extreme situation, the couple finally decide to live apart. Meanwhile, Wilburn's handsome young cousin, also a lawyer, develops genuine sympathy and love for Clare. He is excellently played by a fresh-faced Richard Todd, whose first credited film roles were only the previous year. Todd and Clare acknowledge their love for one another but because people then didn't get divorced, they wait until Wilburn dies years later, before marrying and finding perfect happiness. Clare as an old lady tells this to her impetuous granddaughter (daughter of the now grown Stephen), who has lost the love of her life in the First World War and is about to throw herself into marriage with someone she doesn't love rather than wait and hope that she will one day find another soul-mate. The film is well directed by Lance Comfort, who died in 1966 aged only 58, having directed 44 films between 1942 and 1965, few if any of which are familiar or available today, having all seemingly dropped into the Black Hole of British cinema history from which there seems to be no DVD return. The British DVD market is too small, presumably, to make the revival of all these old films economical, in stark contrast to America, where there are so many cinema buffs that they will buy anything in sufficient quantities to make almost any reissue viable. The British TV channels do not like old movies either, so none of these films are ever seen even on television (again, in strong contrast to America). I obtained this film from a private collector. I notice that no one has ever reviewed it for IMDb before. Alas for old British movies!
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    Portrait of Clare is an excellent film. I enjoyed it very much and saw it for the first time recently. In fact, I was inspired to purchase the novel. The outstanding novel by Francis Brett Young paints a more complete insight into a woman's feelings as Clare passes from very young and losing Ralph, her first husband, the love of her life. When her infant son Stephen is 10, Clare marries the family solicitor, Dudley Wilburn, an older man she admires and seems to be fond of.

    From the first the marriage is a disaster, as Dudley constantly criticizes Clare's spending habits, though it is her money quite often. He even criticizes her expenditures on behalf of her son Stephen.

    From the start Stephen violently dislikes his stepfather and acknowledges his feelings by extreme rudeness. At first, Clare remonstrates desperately with Stephen to be reasonable and to talk about their problems.

    However, her son intensifies his feelings in a verbal barrage, culminating in a thrashing by Dudley. When Stephen runs away to the wealthy former in-laws, Clare knows she can only resolve the issue by leaving Dudley. She knows that the snobbish Lady Hingston, her former mother-in-law, would soon have Stephen in her power.

    Dudley is shocked that Clare is leaving him, but she insists and goes to live with Stephen in another house she owns outright. He professes his great love for Clare, but she no longer loves or admires him. She lives more peacefully and has her piano music to comfort her.

    When Stephen goes to school, Clare finds her feelings gravitating to Dudley's friend and co-worker, Robert, who is a handsome and younger man. He witnesses some of the scenes with Stephen and tries to tell Dudley that he is distressing his wife and is too extreme. But Dudley will not listen and soon their arguments lead to her leaving, when Stephen is nearly 15.

    The only thing I don't like about the film is that it changes Clare's future life when she seeks a divorce from Dudley. In the book Clare can attain happiness if she follows the rules from the divorce papers Dudley has drafted. Though he still loves Clare, Dudley realizes that she is in love with Robert and he wants her to be happy.

    Though WWI days and the church may have frowned more readily on divorce at the time, it could be done in a tactful manner.

    I don't want to create a spoiler here, but just wanted to mention that the film was more stringent than the book! After a great personal and spiritual struggle Clare becomes free to make her own choice ultimately. She and Robert do not have to wait for Dudley's passing. Although the early 20th century held a dim view about divorces in general at that time and Clare is faced with Stephen's disapproval, she makes a decision that she hopes will lead to her happiness and Robert's as well. Although Stephen disapproves and even says his mother should return to Dudley, Clare wants desperately to follow her heart. By this time Stephen enters battle in WWI and Clare meets his commanding officer.

    In the book Stephen's Commanding Office, Colonel Hart, is the man Clare comes to love and respect. Col.Hart, an older man and widower, comes to love Clare, as wildly as she loves him. At first, Clare tries to resist in order to escape scandal and disapproval of her son. By this time Stephen is 18 and marries Col. Hart's daughter. Both of them oppose their parent marrying each other.

    Clare returns to Dudley to ask for advice, when he sends her a letter about the scandal about her and Col. Hart meeting too often. Clare confides in Dudley her true feelings. Surprisingly, Dudley Wilburn approves the match to make Clare happy.

    Though I value the film, I could more readily identify with Clare in the book and her personal struggle and ultimate dreams for happiness.
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    This is a film of a type popular in the forties,the family saga.This film is not the best known of the genre but it is nevertheless quite good.Effective performances from the leads,particularly Robin Bailey.Now days he would have had the investigators in his office immediately. The DVD release is missing about 13 minutes from the original release.
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    When, in 1929, Noel Coward elected to have a grandmother in Bitter Sweet relate the story of her life to her granddaughter in an effort to dissuade her from marrying for the wrong reason(s) he was probably not the first person to employ the device but 21 years later it was arguably well worn but journeyman director Lance Comfort doesn't allow that to prevent him wheeling it out yet again and putting it into the mouth of Margaret Johnston as the eponymous Clare who then makes us privy to a life as colourless as the kind of weak tea that used to be described as 'maid'swater'. It's a long life that begins with marriage to the love of it - in the shape of Ronald Howard who is killed somewhat improbably - followed by a second marriage to someone - Robin Bailey - for whom the term 'aren't men beasts' may well have been coined and culminating in contentment of sorts with Richard Sequoia Todd. If killing the thick end of two hours relatively painlessly is on your bucket list then look no further.