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Face at the Window, The (1939)

Courtesy of Euro London

Main image of Face at the Window, The (1939)
35mm, 66 min, black & white
DirectorGeorge King
Production CompanyPennant Picture Productions
ProducerGeorge King
Scenario/DialogueA.R. Rawlinson
CinematographyHone Glendining

Cast: Tod Slaughter (Chevalier Del Gardo); Marjorie Taylor (Madame Cecile De Brisson); John Warwick (Lucien Cortier); Leonard Henry (Gaston); Aubrey Mallalieu (M. De Brisson)

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Lucien Cortier seeks to find out the identity of the mysterious murderer 'The Wolf', after being accused of being the murderer himself.

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In 1938, MGM, the American studio which had financed and distributed Tod Slaughter's last three films, announced that it would cease making low budget productions, and move into producing 'prestige' pictures.

For Slaughter and his associates, including director George King, this decision necessitated a move away from Shepperton to Beaconsfield studios, and the distribution of British Lion. But instead of confining himself to making product for a homegrown audience, Slaughter produced a film that was much more American in style, with international aspirations.

Nonetheless, the essence of Slaughter's previous work remained - The Face at the Window (1939) even reuses music from the opening credits of Sweeney Todd (d. George King, 1936) when the heroine is on the screen. Similarly, there is a strong link between money and villainy, and the establishing of a love triangle with Slaughter attempting to break up the two young lovers.

Having said this, the film is set in Paris, not England, and so its 'Britishness' can be questioned. But the similarities to Slaughter's previous work, coupled with the fact that the characters all speak with British accents, would have suggested to the audiences of the time that they were watching a familiar Slaughter production.

Film Weekly's review attests to this, calling it "a vintage thriller, put over in the right, rich spirit of years ago." As this shows, the film, along with Slaughter's other work, was seen as an antiquity, presenting a view of Britain that was entrenched in assumptions about its past and what that stood for.

Paul Moody

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Video Clips
1. An experiment (1:12)
2. 'The face!' (1:26)
3. The duel (2:30)
4. Unmasked (4:46)
Monthly Film Bulletin review
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