Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Girl in the News (1940)
Margaret Lockwood stars as Nurse Graham, a young lady with a very unfortunate employment history. She had been employed as nurse to an elderly lady who died of an overdose of sleeping tablets. Nurse Graham was a beneficiary under the old lady’s will. Nurse Graham is charged with murder. She is defended by up-and-coming barrister Stephen Farringdon (Barry K. Barnes). The case against her is purely circumstantial and more than a little flimsy. Farringdon has no great difficulty in securing her acquittal.
This is all very satisfactory since we, the audience, already know that she is innocent.
A nurse who has been accused of murdering one of her patients, even if acquitted, is going to have trouble finding another position. Nurse Graham does eventually get get another job, by giving her name as Lovell. It is a position as nurse to an invalid, Edward Bentley.
Stephen Farringdon has become more than a little fond of Nurse Graham and he is convinced of her innocence. Once again he defends her, at her second trial for murder. The similarity of the two cases obviously suggests that she is guilty. It certainly convinces his friend Bill Mather (Roger Livesey) at Scotland Yard that she is guilty. Farringdon however has the idea that it’s the very similarity of the two cases that proves that Nurse Graham is innocent.
Margaret Lockwood was probably the biggest female star in British movies of the 40s. She was particularly good as a bad girl (in movies like The Wicked Lady) or at least as an ambiguous heroine (in movies like The Man in Grey). She gives a good performance here although her character is more passive than the characters Lockwood usually played.
There are plenty of fine British character actors on hand, including Felix Aylmer (one of my favourites). Roger Livesey is outrageous but entertaining, as usual.
Carol Reed’s genius had not yet blossomed to its full effect and while it’s well-made this movie lacks the assurances and the style of later masterpieces like Odd Man Out and Fallen Idol (and of course The Third Man).
Girl in the News is a neat little murder mystery/courtroom thriller. While the identity of the criminal is probably not going to come as any great surprise the plot does have some other interesting features.
Definitely of interest to Carol Reed fans. Highly recommended.