Kind Lady


1h 16m 1935
Kind Lady

Brief Synopsis

A con artist and his criminal colleagues move in on a trusting old lady.

Film Details

Genre
Mystery
Thriller
Release Date
Dec 6, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Silver Mask" by Hugh Walpole in Harper's Bazaar (Mar 1932), and the play Kind Lady by Edward Chodorov (New York, 23 Apr 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

In London, Mary Herries, a wealthy and kindly old maid who lives in a large mansion, shows her Christmas spirit by inviting homeless artist Henry Abbott into her home for some tea. Henry, a confidence artist, graciously accepts Mary's offer, but soon exploits Mary's generosity by staying for a sandwich and a cigarette. Lucy Weston, Mary's sister, who has come to take Mary to a Herries Christmas reunion in the country, leaves when Mary complains that she is not well enough to travel. After accepting Mary's hospitality, Henry admires her art collection, and she realizes that he has an educated eye for paintings. Rose, Mary's maid, is uneasy about the strange man, and after he leaves, she tells her mistress that he is too good-looking to be begging for tea, and that surely he is up to no good. When Mary notices that her silver cigarette case is missing, she considers the possibility that Henry stole it, but dismisses the thought as soon as Rose agrees with her. Following a visit by Phyllis, Mary's niece, and her fiancé, Peter Santard, Mary is visited by Henry, who has come to return her cigarette case and apologize for pawning it. Henry then begs Mary to buy one of his paintings, which she does, before asking him to leave and never return. Disregarding her request, Henry plays on Mary's sympathy by showing her the pathetic sight of a poor woman holding a baby outside her window in the rain, and telling her that the woman, named Ada, is his wife, and that the baby is theirs. Mary takes pity on them, invites them in, and then sends Henry to get a doctor to treat Ada's exposure. The kind lady agrees to let the Abbotts stay until Ada recovers, but Henry again takes advantage of her and invites the Edwardses, friends of Ada's, to move in also to Mary's house. Shortly thereafter, Mary decides to rid herself of her unwelcome guests by telling them that she has decided to take a vacation in America, and that she plans to close down the house while she is away. After sending Lucy a letter informing her of her vacation plans, Mary arranges to have Ada taken to hospital. The Abbotts refuse to leave, and together with the Edwardses and a doctor, they conspire to fleece Mary. Henry tries to fool Rose into leaving the house, but when he later discovers her still inside he kills her. Henry, Ada, the doctor and the Edwardses keep Mary in her house at gunpoint, and when Mr. Roubet, a French art dealer, visits, she tries to alert him as to her situation by slipping him a note while her captors are out of sight. Her attempt fails, however, when Roubet turns the note over to Henry on his way out. When the Santards pay Mary an unexpected visit, Mrs. Edwards answers the door and lies to them about the kind lady's whereabouts, telling them that she has gone to America. Later, Peter's suspicions are raised when Lucy tells him that she has not received any word from her sister, and that Mary had terrible guests at her home when she last saw her. When Peter discovers that Mary has neither applied for a passport nor set sail from England, he goes to the constable and tries to obtain a search warrant for the house, but his request is denied because he is not a police officer. Meanwhile, Mr. Foster, a representative from Mary's bank, prepares to sign papers that will turn over all of Mary's assets to Henry. Before they sign, Mary succeeds in slipping him a note explaining her distress, but when Henry and the doctor discover that Foster has been tipped off by Mary, they close in on him and prevent him from leaving. Peter eventually succeeds in getting the police to raid Mary's house, which they do in time to prevent Mary's captors from stealing her money.

Film Details

Genre
Mystery
Thriller
Release Date
Dec 6, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Silver Mask" by Hugh Walpole in Harper's Bazaar (Mar 1932), and the play Kind Lady by Edward Chodorov (New York, 23 Apr 1935).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 16m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

Kind Lady (1935)


Character actors never get old, because they start that way. Although Aline MacMahon had played her share of gold diggers at Warner Bros., where she got the glamour treatment in Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), she was, at heart, a character woman, with years of experience at playing characters older than herself on stage and screen. So, when Warner Bros. bought the rights to Edward Chodorov's Broadway success about a lonely, aging woman taken in by a con artist who before long has moved his unscrupulous friends into her home and is plotting to steal her savings and her art collection before taking her life, she was the logical choice for the lead. The studio gave her an amiable group of low-lives out to fleece MacMahon, headed by Basil Rathbone as the starving artist who charms his way into her home. And George B. Seitz built up suspense as the increasingly frantic and ill MacMahon (Rathbone and his cronies are drugging her) struggles to get some message to the outside world. MGM would buy the rights years later for a remake starring Ethel Barrymore and Maurice Evans and with Doris Lloyd, who plays MacMahon's sister here, as Barrymore's maid.

By Frank Miller
Kind Lady (1935)

Kind Lady (1935)

Character actors never get old, because they start that way. Although Aline MacMahon had played her share of gold diggers at Warner Bros., where she got the glamour treatment in Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), she was, at heart, a character woman, with years of experience at playing characters older than herself on stage and screen. So, when Warner Bros. bought the rights to Edward Chodorov's Broadway success about a lonely, aging woman taken in by a con artist who before long has moved his unscrupulous friends into her home and is plotting to steal her savings and her art collection before taking her life, she was the logical choice for the lead. The studio gave her an amiable group of low-lives out to fleece MacMahon, headed by Basil Rathbone as the starving artist who charms his way into her home. And George B. Seitz built up suspense as the increasingly frantic and ill MacMahon (Rathbone and his cronies are drugging her) struggles to get some message to the outside world. MGM would buy the rights years later for a remake starring Ethel Barrymore and Maurice Evans and with Doris Lloyd, who plays MacMahon's sister here, as Barrymore's maid. By Frank Miller

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Notes

A Hollywood Reporter pre-production news item indicated that Constance Collier was originally cast in the title role. Hollywood Reporter pre-release news items list Edward Mortimer and Lotus Thompson in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter production charts credit Charles Clarke as the photographer of this film, and list actors Robert Greig and Marjorie Gateson in the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a contemporary New York Times news item, M-G-M paid $35,000 for the film rights to this story. A 1951 M-G-M remake of Kind Lady was directed by John Sturges and starred Ethel Barrymore and Maurice Evans. On December 2, 1949, the CBS television network aired a live Ford Theatre teleplay of Kind Lady, which was also directed by Sturges and starred Fay Bainter and Joseph Schildkraut. A Broadway Television Theatre production of Kind Lady, starring Sylvia Sidney, was broadcast on non-network television on November 30, 1953.