Copyright 31 August 1950 (in notice: 1949) by Universal Pictures Co., Inc. A Two Cities Films, London, production, released in the U.S. by Universal-International, August 1950. New York opening at the Park Avenue: 11 October 1950. U.K. release through General Film Distributors: 29 August 1949. Australian release through Gaumont- British-Dominions/20th Century-Fox: 14 July 1950. 105 minutes. Cut to around 90 minutes in Australia and the U.S.A.
SYNOPSIS: Blind girl threatened by husband's best friend.
VIEWER'S GUIDE: Not suitable for young children.
NOTES: Directorial debut (the only other film I have for him as a director is "No Escape" in 1953) of screenwriter Charles Bennett. His films include Blackmail, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, Secret Agent, Sabotage, Foreign Correspondent, etc.
COMMENT: How wonderful to see a Gothic thriller produced with such class and style! Of course we shouldn't be too surprised, considering Bennett's credentials on some of our favorite Hitchcocks.
My only complaint is that in the full-length British version, the plot does take a long time to get going. Once that charismatic heavy, Kathleen Byron, comes on the screen, however, the thrills mount to a suspenseful climax.
Margaret Lockwood turns in an attractive study of the imperiled heroine, and there is fine support work by Maxwell Reed as a sinister servant and Raymond Lovell as a Spiral Staircase count.
Although the basic plot is a familiar one (compare "Night Without Stars"), it is given class "A" treatment here with film noirish photography, aristocratic sets, hordes of extras and real locations.
Best of all, Bennett's direction is not only spine-tingling, but confident and assured.
OTHER VIEWS: With its echoes of Rebecca, Kidnapped and Notorious, not to mention The Spiral Staircase and other Gothic thrillers, Madness of the Heart is guaranteed to generate suspense. When fine acting and skillful direction are added to the plot, the result is almost certainly edge-of-the-seat excitement.