Unfortunately, Anthony Asquith’s direction is hurt by faulty film editing and irritatingly slow tempo. Although the script distorts the original story almost beyond recognition, there is still retained a lot of plot development in the house of ill-fame, which in the book is the main background. For all its being toned down from Michael Sadleir’s frank treatment in the novel, the way the curvaceous femmes do their stuff in the underground joint hardly makes for best family trade.
As a matter of fact, the film would suffer little if all the bawdy-house sequences were removed. The main theme – the thorny path traveled by the true lovers because the man is ‘well born’ while the girl is an illegitimate child, foster-fathered by the bawdy housekeeper – would be preserved by the mid-Victorian pillorying they both receive.
With so many good performances, it is significant that Phyllis Calvert in the lead more than holds her own. She succeeds in portraying Fanny with girlish wistfulness and appeal.