Cast & Crew
Leo G. Carroll
In the late nineteenth century, while sailing from Jamaica to Liverpool, England, missionary widow Olivia Harwood nurses artist Mark Bellis, who is suffering from malaria, the same disease that claimed her husband. Mark survives his illness and after returning to England, visits Olivia in the humble home she has inherited. Mark, a thief and murderer who is being hunted by Scotland Yard, flatters Olivia and plays on her vulnerability until she agrees to take him in as a boarder, even though she finds the idea of an unmarried man living with her scandalous. Soon after, Mark and his partner in crime, Edgar Bellamy, attempt to rob a new art collection being brought in by Lord Milbury, but are forced to escape without the paintings. Although she has other boarders, Olivia caters to Mark, who paints a portrait of her and subsequently makes love to her. When Mark tells Olivia that he must leave the country because he is broke, she seeks out her childhood friend, Susan Courtney, who has married a wealthy Peer. Susan's opulent lifestyle has not saved her from the misery she feels because she is childless, however, and has become an alcoholic. Susan gives Olivia her housekeeping money, which Olivia turns over to Mark. When Olivia tries to burn a packet of letters that Susan wrote to her while in Jamaica, telling of her love for Sir John Curle, the Queen's counsel, Mark snatches the letters, and encourages Olivia to be more self-serving. Olivia's love for Mark is so strong that she almost agrees to blackmail her friend, but instead runs to the Anglican Missionary Society and begs them to send her out of the country. The Society's representative only offers Olivia a chance to remarry, and she then seeks solace at the church, where Mark finds her and consoles her. Later, Susan's husband Henry offers Olivia a paid position as Susan's caretaker, hoping to keep his wife from drinking. Olivia enjoys being pampered as Susan showers her with new clothes, while Mark continues to see his lover, Kitty Feathers, and gives her Olivia's locket as a gift. When Henry suffers a high blood pressure attack, Olivia eases his pain with some Jamaican medicine. Henry later admits to his domineering mother that it is he who is infertile, and leaves to see a specialist in France. While he is gone, Olivia encourages Susan to write to John, and Mark sells Susan's bonds anonymously. Unknown to Mark, he is followed from the stockbroker's office by a detective named Jarvis. Henry returns unexpectedly and confronts Susan and Olivia about the bonds. Unimpressed by their weak response, Henry arranges for Susan to go to a sanitorium and dismisses Olivia. Olivia later blackmails Henry with Susan's letters to John. Henry insists that Jarvis, whom he hired, not alert Scotland Yard until he plays out his scheme to entrap Mark, whom he now knows is a notorious criminal. That night, Henry shows Olivia the detective's report on Mark, and demands the letters in exchange for the report. Olivia is shocked to learn that Mark is a murderer as well as a thief, and when Henry tells her the original report is with Scotland Yard, she hits him. Henry collapses from a heart attack, and Olivia puts poison in a bottle of medicine, then urges a hysterical Susan to tend to her husband. Henry dies of poisoning, while Olivia burns Susan's letters. Olivia then meets Mark at the train station for their flight from the country, and when he hears what has transpired, he insists that she stay behind and act like Susan's faithful friend so as not to arouse suspicion. Mark, meanwhile, flees to Paris with Edgar. Susan is found guilty of Henry's murder and slowly goes insane. Olivia is surprised one evening by a visit from Jarvis, who appeals to her to confess and thereby spare Susan's life. Tormented, Olivia writes to Mark about her own confusion. Having genuinely fallen in love with Olivia, Mark returns to England, where he convinces Olivia not to confess and promises to take her to the United States the next day. Before Olivia leaves, Jarvis sends Kitty to her house, and Olivia is stunned to see her locket around Kitty's neck. Olivia then meets Mark as arranged in front of Westminster Abbey. Mark admits that his first interest in her was purely mercenary, and then professes his sincere love for her. Olivia, reeling from the shock of his duplicity, stabs him to death, then directs the cab driver to the police station. When she exits the cab, she discovers that Jarvis is the driver, and he congratulates her for her courage.
Leo G. Carroll
Guy Le Feuvre
Sophia Harris Of Motley
W. H. Lindop
Thomas H. Morahan
Philharmonia Orchestra Of London
The Paramount Symphony Orchestra
So Evil My Love
A tale of deception and murder set within the polite society of Edwardian England, So Evil My Love was based on the 1947 book by Joseph Shearing, author also of the source novel for Twentieth Century Fox's Moss Rose (1947). Joseph Shearing was, in fact, one of many pseudonyms employed by Gabrielle Margaret Vere Campbell Long (1885-1952), who also published as Marjorie Bowen and in fact wrote her 1939 autobiography, The Debate Continues, under that byline. Born into penury as the daughter of an affectionate wastrel (who perished on the streets of London when she was a child) and a Bohemian mother disowned by her family, Campbell published her first novel when she was a teenager; she wrote prolifically (publishing seven novels in 1928 alone) during her long and mostly difficult life, the profits going to support her mother and a sister even as she suffered the loss of her first husband to tuberculosis and the death of their first-born child. Largely forgotten and the majority of her 150 published works now out of print, Campbell retains a solid reputation among a tight circle of literary admirers for the quality and imagination of her supernatural fiction, historical dramas and Gothic romances. Taking advantage of studio funds frozen overseas after World War II, producer Hal Wallis arranged to have So Evil My Love shot at Denham Studios in England and backed Milland with a number of reliable Hollywood supporting players who hailed originally from all points of the British isles. Cheshire-born Ann Todd was enjoying a successful crossover from London's West End to lead roles in Compton Bennett's The Seventh Veil (1945) opposite James Mason and in Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947) with Gregory Peck. Second female lead Geraldine Fitzgerald had come to Hollywood from London (and, before that, her native Ireland) by way of Broadway, where Wallis had seen her acting with Orson Welles' Mercury Players and signed her to a seven year contract; Fitzgerald is perhaps best known to contemporary audiences for playing family matriarchs in Arthur (1981) with Dudley Moore and Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986). A prominent member of Hollywood's British "colony," Leo G. Carroll had brought his dour countenance to bear as Marley's Ghost in MGM's adaptation of A Christmas Carol (1938) and had already begun a long association with Alfred Hitchcock; the saturnine actor attained pop culture immortality portraying avuncular spymaster Alexander Waverly on the hit NBC series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-1968).
So Evil My Love belongs to a film subgenre in which the emotions, motivations, psychoses and compulsions of film noir were transplanted into stories set at the turn of the 19th Century. "Gaslight noir" was enriched by the likes of Thorold Dickinson's British Gaslight (1940) and George Cukor's 1944 American remake, John Brahm's Hangover Square (1945), Robert Siodmak's The Spiral Staircase (1945), Gregory Ratoff's Moss Rose and Arthur Lubin's Footsteps in the Fog (1955). If this elegant category seems incongruous to the career of Hal Wallis - remembered for his westerns (Gunfight at the OK Corral , True Grit ) and Elvis vehicles (King Creole , Blue Hawaii ) - it bears mentioning that the maverick independent producer was an unabashed Anglophile. Wallis' love for all things British extended to building himself a $30,000 replica of an English manor in the San Fernando Valley. The Wallis estate was home to apricot and walnut trees (Wallis also owned orange groves, whose yield he sold to Sunkist) and boasted a state-of-the-art projection room whose hydraulic screen rose from the floor and whose booth was hidden behind tasteful portraiture. So Evil My Love was a relatively minor credit for Wallis, who scored late in life with the veddy British trifecta of Becket (1964), Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) and Mary, Queen of Scots (1971).
Producer: Hal B. Wallis
Director: Lewis Allen
Screenplay: Ronald Millar, Leonard Spigelgass (writer); Joseph Shearing (novel)
Cinematography: Max Greene
Art Direction: Thomas N. Morahan
Music: William Alwyn, Victor Young
Film Editing: Vera Campbell, Leonard Trumm
Cast: Ray Milland (Mark Bellis), Ann Todd (Olivia Harwood), Geraldine Fitzgerald (Susan Courtney), Leo G. Carroll (Jarvis), Raymond Huntley (Henry Courtney), Raymond Lovell (Edgar Bellamy), Martita Hunt (Mrs. Courtney), Moira Lister (Kitty Feathers), Roderick Lovell (Sir John Curle), Muriel Aked (Miss Shoebridge).
by Richard Harland Smith
Wide-Eyed in Babylon: An Autobiography by Ray Milland (Ballantine Books, 1974)
Hal Wallis: Producer to the Stars by Bernard F. Dick (The University of Kentucky Press, 2004)
Rose Petals, Drops of Blood: The Life of Marjorie Bowen, Mistress of the Macabre by Jessica Amanda Salmonson, www.violetbooks.com
So Evil My Love
Geraldine Fitzgerald (1913-2005)
Born in Dublin on November 24, 1913, Fitzgerald was educated for a time in a convent school in London. Back in her native Dublin, she happily accompanied her aunt, the Irish actress Shelah Richards, to a theater one afternoon when the director mistook her for an actress, and instructed her "to go backstage and change." An inauspicious start, but it gave her the acting bug. She made her stage debut in 1932 in Dublin's Gate Theater and later appeared in a few forgettable British films: Open All Night (1934), The Ace of Spades, Three Witnesses (both 1935). She made the trip across the Atlantic in 1938 to act with Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater, but agents from Warner Bros. quickly signed her and she was soon off to Hollywood.
She made her film debut in 1939 supporting Bette Davis in Dark Victory, but it was her performance in a second film later in the year that proved to be the most memorable of her career - the role of Isabella Linton in Wuthering Heights. She earned an Oscar® nomination for her turn and stardom should have been around the corner, but Fitzgerald's feuding with studio head Jack Warner (he refused to let her return to the New York stage and she would refuse parts that she thought were inferior) led to some lengthy suspensions of unemployment. Irregardless, Fitzgerald still had some shining moments at Warner Bros. the heady melodrama The Gay Sisters (1942); the superb espionage thriller Watch on the Rhine (1943); Robert Siodmak's terrific, noirish thriller The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945); and a tough crime drama where she played opposite John Garfield Nobody Lives Forever (1946).
Fitzgerald returned to New York by the '50s, and found much work in many of the live television dramas that were so popular in the day: Goodyear Television Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, Studio One, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars; and even some taped television shows: Naked City, Alfred Hitchcock Presents in between her stage demands.
She did return to the screen by the mid-'60s and proved herself a fine character actress in films like The Pawnbroker (1965); Rachel, Rachel (1968); Harry and Tonto (1974); a wonderfully memorable comic turn as Dudley Moore's feisty grandmother in Arthur (1981); and yet another noteworthy performance as Rose Kennedy in the acclaimed mini-series Kennedy (1983). She also appeared in a few television programs: St. Elswhere, Cagney & Lacey, and The Golden Girls before ill-health forced her to retire by the early '90s. Among the relatives that survive her are her son, director Michael Lindsay-Hogg (Brideshead Revisited; a daughter, Susan Scheftel; and her great-niece, the English actress Tara Fitzgerald.
by Michael "Mitch" Toole
Geraldine Fitzgerald (1913-2005)
Oh, Mark! You say things so prettily. But I never quite know what's going on inside your head.- Kitty Feathers
One day I'll tell you. You may not like it.- Mark Bellis
Scruples again?- Mark Bellis
No. I'm beyond that now.- Olivia Harwood
The film opens with the following written prologue: "This is a true story...one of the strangest chapters in the annals of crime. Its characters lived more than fifty years ago...the leading figures in a passionate game of love and murder. It began on a sailing vessel homeward bound from the West Indies for Liverpool...." No information has been found about the actual case on which the film is supposedly based. The Variety review identifies it as the "Clapham" case. So Evil My Love was the first Paramount picture to be produced in post-war England. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, some scenes were shot on location at Lincoln's Inn Fields in England.