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The Wicked Lady [DVD] [1945]

4.5 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, Patricia Roc, Griffith Jones, Michael Rennie
  • Directors: Leslie Arliss
  • Writers: Leslie Arliss, Aimée Stuart, Gordon Glennon, Magdalen King-Hall
  • Producers: Maurice Ostrer, R.J. Minney
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: ITV Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 15 Mar. 2004
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00012SYNM
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,737 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Set during the reign of King Charles II, the aristocratic Lady Skelton (Margaret Lockwood) attempts to relieve the tedium of her day-to-day life by secretly acting as a highway robber. Lady Skelton finds herself caught up in a tangled web of romance, danger, and jealousy.

From Amazon.co.uk

An extraordinarily racy movie for its time, The Wicked Lady was and still is as notable for its acres of heaving bosom as for its radical challenge to female stereotypes. This bodice-ripper about a bored aristocratic woman who turns highwayman just for kicks became a huge box-office success in post-war Britain, but Margaret Lockwood's eloquent bust proved a bit too expressive for Hollywood, so the film was expensively reshot for a sanitised US release. (From 1945 right up to Janet Jackson at the 2004 Superbowl, American audiences apparently have an enduring problem with those prominent parts of the female anatomy).

This is the definitive Gainsborough picture, a period romp crammed with cads, in which the camera gazes lasciviously down (it's all shot from a male eyelevel) at the low-cut ladies' dresses. But this time the female anti-heroine gives as good as she gets... and then some. Lockwood's Lady Barbara Skelton is quite gleefully amoral--more so even than Thackeray's arch-manipulator Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair--failing even to pay lip service to the moral standards of the 1940s, let alone those of the 17th century. It is she who wears the trousers (quite literally, in her highwayman guise) while the weak-chinned and weak-willed men around her crumble under the weight of their conventionality. Only James Mason's handsome dandy highwayman can keep up with her, but even he has to draw the line somewhere. Ultimately, social mores reassert their grip and Lady Barbara gets her comeuppance, but not before she's overturned every contemporary movie convention about femininity. "She was the wickedest woman ever seen on the screen", trumpets the original theatrical trailer on this otherwise bare-bones DVD release: it's still probably true even today. --Mark Walker

Customer Reviews

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This film, made during World War II is pure escapism. The story: Lady of the Manor by day, highway woman by night, is basically inaccurate, for in reality few people would have ventured to journey after dark, due to the atrocious condition of the roads. But this does not matter, for the romance and adventure contained in this picture is such that one can afford to take these liberties. An interesting parallel occurs in the sequence where Lord Skelton, (Griffith Jones) tries to persuade his wife, (Margaret Lockwood)to accompany him to London. Throughout their conversation, her face is reflected in the dressing-table mirror, thus signifying her duplicity and the `double-life` she is leading; note how her lovely eyes `light-up` at the thought of the thrill and excitement of the robbery to come!

Jerry Jackson (James Mason) and Lady Skelton, compliment each other perfectly, either when making love at the inn, or sitting astride their horses. The film demonstrates Margaret Lockwood`s acting ability, from Lady to robber. For example; when she visits the shop of Mrs. Munce (Muriel Aked) in order to obtain poison to be administered to the family steward, Hogarth (Felix Aylmer) who has discovered her secret life, she is dressed in the finest furs together with a wonderful ostrich hat and a muff, (it being winter). As she stands there, she is proud but not haughty; her flawless complexion - enhanced by a beauty-spot! - makes her the epitome of the British noblewoman. Her beauty is breathtaking; indeed, the viewer can recall that when Caroline (Patricia Roc) Introduced her to Sir Ralph she exclaimed, `Doesn`t she take your breath away!
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"When she came," says Sir Ralph about his wife, Lady Barbara, "a dark shadow crept over our lives...but it's lifting." He's speaking to Caroline, who has always loved him with a passion that was pure and true. "We shall ride again in the sunshine," Sir Ralph continues, "...sing and laugh and know happiness...and love." For those who cannot foretell the fate of evil women, no matter how spirited and beautiful they may be, read no further. The Wicked Lady may be a lusty Restoration melodrama, detested by the critics yet Britain's highest earning movie in 1946, but it has enough interest to warrant watching all the way through. This is because of the story, which centers on a, well, a wicked lady, but a lady of great spirit and energy. She's as attracted to adventure as she is bored by respectability. Fiancé stealing, highway robbery, shooting and smothering are just the spices needed to keep her love alive, to paraphrase Lorenz Hart. The other element that makes the movie watchable is the actors, particularly Margaret Lockwood as Lady Barbara and James Mason as the charming, energetic highwayman, Jerry Jackson. Jackson knows he'll wind up kicking his heels with a noose around his neck at Tyburn, but he'd rather it be later than sooner...and in-between he'd just as soon enjoy Lady Barbara.

You must picture the times. The men wear higher wigs than the women, and their hats sport more feathers than most ostriches. Dress is elaborate and décolletage is on ample display. In fact, some scenes in The Wicked Lady had to be reshot before the film could be released in the States. It was thought too many Americans would feel threatened by Margaret Lockwood's bosom.
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This is a fab old movie. It's very nostalgic for me as I remember watching it on a wet Sunday afternoon and being completely shocked that a woman could be so 'wicked'. These days you might argue that it's tame but I guess it depends in your outlook. I enjoy it every time I watch it. I also could listen to James Mason till the cows come home. Basically this is a tale about a spoilt woman who becomes a highway 'man'. It is a classic and worth a watch. Hope this helps.
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Childlike Caroline is set to marry Ralph Skelton, a handsome magistrate. Although the marriage is arranged, the two are quite fond of each other, Caroline being hopelessly in love with the man but quite shy to say so.

Caroline, being the sweet and generous person she is, invites her cousin Barbara to attend the wedding. However, Caroline fails to see that Barbara is an opportunistic schemer, and when Barbara sets her sights on Ralph for his money, nothing will get in her way.

Truly believing that Barbara is in love with Ralph, Caroline steps aside and lets them marry, despite her own heartbreak. Barbara on the other hand, is keen enough to Marry Ralph, however, is smitten with one of the guests at the wedding and already regretting her decision to marry for money.

As time passes, Barbara finds herself growing rather bored with her way of life, and while gambling with her husband's friends, she loses her broach (belonging to her deceased mother - a beloved piece of jewellery) as part of a bet and is desperate to get it back.

Posing as the famed highway man Captain Jackson, Barbara dons a mask, dresses as a man and wields a gun to hold up the carriage of her husband's friends in desperation to get the beloved piece of jewellery back. What she finds is that she has a natural talent for highway robbery, and loves the danger and excitement.

It seems, however, that this would lead her into meeting the real Captain Jackson, a Handsome roguish scoundrel who inflames her desires. Finally, she has all the excitement she could ever want, but eventually, there will always have to be consequences she didn't plan for and the only way to handle them is to show her truly wicked side.
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