The Forbidden Street (1949)
‘The Forbidden Street,’ Based on Margery Sharp Novel, New Roxy Feature
By BOSLEY CROWTHER
Published: May 14, 1949
The long, drawn-out social education of a young Victorian lady of quality, which was described at considerable leisure by Margery Sharp in her novel, “Britannia Mews,” becomes a sketchy and aimless reminiscence in the cut-down film version of the book, presented yesterday at the Roxy under the title, “The Forbidden Street.” Those who have read the novel will find little of its character in the film; those who have not will be quite puzzled that such a jigjog thing should have been made.
For Ring Lardner Jr. failed completely to get a tight dramatic script from the book by simply stringing together some of its narrative episodes. And certainly he missed organizing a consistent temper or mood. From a solemn and stuffy description of the naive romance of his heroine with a charming but fickle artist living in the slums of Britannia Mews, he shifts into melodramatics as this ne’er-do-well gentleman is killed and the young lady, now his relict, is blackmailed by a local harridan. Then he hop-skips to frolicsome romance as another gentleman enters the lady’s life, and concludes with the two being coy in the style of bedroom farce.
Nor has Jean Negulesco, the director, distilled any character or charm from these rambling and casual experiences of his heroine. The film, although made in London by Twentieth Century-Fox, might as well have been shot in a Hollywood studio for all its Victorian London atmosphere. The sets are conspicuously furbished with artificial filth and fog, and the residents of the alley have that wardrobe-department look.
In the role of the girl, Maureen O’Hara is a beautifully dressed automaton whose troubles with drunkenness and squalor make no mark whatsoever on her face. And in the dual roles of her romancers, Dana Andrews is mechanical, too. As a matter of fact, as the artist, with bushy hair and beard, his dialogue is actually spoken by a dubbed-in English voice, which isn’t always in synchronization, thus completing the obvious falsity. As the brief but horrendous blackmailer, Dame Sybil Thorndike is frightful to behold and equally terrifying in her Dickensian villainies. Unfortunately, she is banished much too soon for the picture’s good. We’d hoped that something absorbing might come of her, at least.
On the stage at the Roxy are Dick Haymes, Dick Buckley, the Three Rockets, the Gae Foster Roxyettes and an ice-skating show.
THE FORBIDDEN STREET
screen play by Ring Lardner Jr., based on the novel “Britania News,” by Margery Sharp; directed by Jean Negulesco; produced in London by William Perlberg for Twentieth Century-Fox. At the Roxy.
Herbert Lambert . . . . . Dana Andrews
Adelaide Culver . . . . . Maureen O’Hara
Mrs. Mounsey (the Sow) . . . . . Dame Sybil Thorndike
Treff . . . . . Anthony Tancred
Mr. Bly . . . . . A. E. Matthews
Mrs. Culver . . . . . Fay Compton
Mr. Culver . . . . . Wilfred Hyde White
The Blazer . . . . . Diana Hart
Alice . . . . . Ann Butchart
Old ‘Un . . . . . Herbert Walton
Nellie Lauderdale . . . . . Mary Martlew
Adelaide as a child) . . . . . June Allen