Review: ‘South Riding’

There are enough requisites in this English melodrama [from a novel by Winifred Holtby] to excite attention. It is fairly familiar matter - the spoiled child whose father fears she will grow up to be like her stark-mad mother, the conniving contractor and real estate operator, and the country gentleman whose intense love of his estate nearly enables the crooked plot to hatch. But all of this has been heightened by original twirls of acting and direction.

There are enough requisites in this English melodrama [from a novel by Winifred Holtby] to excite attention. It is fairly familiar matter – the spoiled child whose father fears she will grow up to be like her stark-mad mother, the conniving contractor and real estate operator, and the country gentleman whose intense love of his estate nearly enables the crooked plot to hatch. But all of this has been heightened by original twirls of acting and direction.

Many incidental plot threads are dragged in at the sacrifice of more vital episodes. An example is the flashback to show how the estate owner’s wife became demented, obviously to display Ann Todd’s histrionics.

The affair the week-kneed councilman is supposed to have had with a country damsel is not obvious enough for average American audiences.

Edna Best is tops in the film as the school teacher. Ralph Richardson contributes one of his finer thespian jobs as the country gentleman. John Clements, who resembles Gary Cooper, also is top flight as the ambitious young councilman. Glynis Johns, in the role of the headstrong daughter of the wealthy estate holder, shows promise.

Title of film, derives from a supposed judicial district. Actually there is no ‘South’ Riding, the other divisions being East, West and North.

South Riding

UK

Production

London. Director Victor Saville; Producer Victor Saville; Screenplay Ian Dalrymple, Donald Bull; Camera Harry Stradling; Editor Hugh Stewart, Jack Dennis; Music Richard Addinsell; Art Director Lazare Meerson

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1938. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Edna Best Ralph Richardson Edmund Gwenn Ann Todd John Clements Marie Lohr
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