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  • This is a definite must-see for any Margaret Lockwood fans, as well as Hitchcock lovers as it's very Hitchcock in style. There's simply not a dull moment as we follow the young Lydia through the path her life takes when she goes blind and finds there is only the tiniest chance that surgery could restore her sight - and an even smaller chance that she would even survive the operation. Her sweetheart Paul still wishes to marry her, and she finds happiness with him, but that is short-lived as she begins to get the feeling that someone wants her dead. The movie takes a truly terrifying turn, and though in part is predictable, it's still definitely exciting. 9/10
  • I hate to be critical of something into which a great many people invested a lot of time, money and effort but it has to be said that Madness of the Heart is far from being a classic.

    Neither a superb cast, a substantial budget, exotic settings nor the presence of the sublimely gorgeous and extremely talented Margaret Lockwood in the leading role can save this film from its dire script.

    The premise is promising enough; a lovely young Englishwoman (Lockwood) falls in love with an aristocratic Frenchman (played by Paul Dupuis) but is promptly struck blind. Despite this tragedy, the couple marry and move to Monsieur's stately pile in Provence where their happiness is sorely tested by his family's negative attitude toward disability and the murderous machinations of his psychopathic former intended (a scary turn from Kathleen Byron of Black Narcissus fame).

    The camera work is great and the sets and the set pieces are fantastic (especially the evening ball) but the dialogue is risible in places and the film's ending frankly ludicrous! The actors do their best - Lockwood, in particular, shows her mettle and is very convincing as a blind woman - but it is clearly an uphill struggle. The writer apparently collaborated with Hitchcock on some of his early films but you would never have guessed!

    I am, to put it mildly, a huge fan of Margaret Lockwood but I have to admit that this is not one of her better films. If you like her and you like vintage thrillers, then The Lady Vanishes, Night Train to Munich, Girl in the News or Cast a Dark Shadow (several of which are inexplicably unavailable in PAL format on either DVD or video) are far, far better; this one is for die-hard fans only.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Take a bit of 'Black Narcissus' and throw in a bit of 'Rebecca' and you have 'Madness Of The Heart' from 1949. Lydia Garth meets a man, falls in love, goes blind, enters a convent, comes out again, meets previous man, gets married, goes to France, gets persecuted. Nothing surprising which is a shame as it had a lot of potential. The good cast act gamely but the pedestrian script is impossible to enliven.

    What it does have is Kathleen Byron playing Verite Faimont, channeling her Sister Ruth from 'Black Narcissus', as a jealous woman who covets Lydia Garth's husband. In an interview in 1990 Kathleen Byron said she was by the time of this film fed up playing these types of roles but no one did it better. She scorches the screen whenever she is on. In the horse riding scene she looks full of rage, frustration and sexiness at the same time. It took by breath away.

    The music by Allan Gray is good and the ubiquitous Sam Kydd turns up in a blink-and-you'll-miss-him-role, otherwise it's a conventional soap opera, apart from the kick that Kathleen Byron gives to it.
  • milliefan20 September 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    This overwrought melodrama may have held the attention of undiscriminating audiences back in 1949, but is difficult to watch now without chuckling. Former superstar Margaret Lockwood is clearly slumming it with this turkey, and she knows it. Her performance never takes off, and although she was only 33 at the time of filming, she looks a good 15 years older. Her teeth, particularly in closeup, look crooked and ill cared for. In one scene she introduces her maid, saying "Rosa has looked after me since I was a little girl"... rather remarkable, seeing as Rosa is played by Thora Hird, in reality just five years older than Miss Lockwood, and looking slightly younger in this film - even without makeup! Shades of Patricia Roc playing Phyllis Calvert's daughter in Madonna of the Seven Moons! Maxwell Reed is, as usual, atrocious - however he is aided by a dubbed French accent. The best performance comes from Kathleen Byron - the undisputed queen of cinematic malevolence. As awful as I found this film, it did bring me one special satisfaction: as a child I saw a film on TV, in which the villainess attempts to kill the formerly-blind heroine by opening a door from which there is a sheer drop. That scary moment has remained vivid in my memory for fifty years, but I had no idea from which movie the scene came ... until I watched Madness of the Heart today!
  • Lydia (Margaret Lockwood) meets Paul (Paul Dupuis) and he is immediately smitten with her. They date a bit but then she runs off to a nunnery when she loses her sight. The Reverend Mother eventually counsels her to leave and stop hiding from the world. Soon after she arrives back in London, Paul arrives and sweets her off her feet and they marry.

    Paul then takes Lydia to his ancestral estate in France. Her family gives her a warm welcome and things seem fine...at first. However, over time, her husband's old girlfriend, Vérité*, begins undermining Lydia in small, hidden ways. The goal is for Vérité to drive Lydia away from Paul....and soon her scheming begins to cause friction in the family. What's next? See the film and find out for yourself.

    I saw that someone compared this film, unfavorably, to "Rebecca". Well, I can see some parallels....but the story is different enough that it didn't feel like a rip-off to me.

    *Calling the villain 'Vérité' is sloppy writing. After all, in French it mean 'truth'....and what a ridiculously obvious name for a villainess...too obvious.
  • A faint-hearted, discount version of Rebecca (itself a version of Jane Eyre.) The first third is adequately, but unexcitingly presented, and the remaining two thirds ground out in a series of unconvincing, predictable and lame melodramatic clichés. The usually dependable writer/director seems to have no discernible appetite here for the potential suspense, tension and excitement. This should be a good old fashioned melodrama, but at best it's a milk chocolate romance for undemanding picturegoers of the 1940s. Only Maxwell Reed as the oily servant, lurking and scheming, seems to have the right idea, but is given very little to do. The stars are dull. Maurice Denham and Thora Hird are okay, and Desmond Dickinson's photography is sometimes lovely.
  • No one is pretending that a movie made in 1949 will be the latest. However this feeble story about a woman who goes temporarily blind, and who is trying to be killed off by her evil in-laws, stretched credibility to the very end. Students of French movie accents may find it interesting, as will those studying the geography of the French coast, and airport terminal design in the 1950's.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is what would have been called "a woman's picture" when it was made.As mentioned elsewhere it has echoes of Rebecca but without the mystery or suspense.It has moments of utter incredulity.It is difficult to know is more laughable the car crash which disposes of the husband and the attempted murdered or the "meeting cute"at the end in an attempt to add on a happy ending.These clichés represent some of the more laboured attempts at drama.There are many others such as going blind and then given a chance a chance at a one in fifty successful operation.This is strictly for Lockwood fans.Otherwise don't waste your time.