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The Wicked Lady [DVD] 
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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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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!Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
very pleased and happy with this dvd
just love this period drama..will save and watch again when its cold and dark outside.
Period charm in this old black and white melodrama about a woman in Stuart times who turns to part-time highway robbery for kicks and to alleviate the boring life of a provincial... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a good black and white film which I have had to send for again as my daughter has kept my original copy !!!Published 5 months ago by SHall
The Wicked Lady, is a very successful British 1945 black and white period film, starring the late James Mason as highwayman Jerry Jackson, and the late Margaret Lockwood in the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by GRP
What a great film. Lovely to own it on DVD. Lockwood is ideal as wicked Lady Barbara and James Mason as the Highwayman. I love the cast, costumes and locations in this film.Published 8 months ago by Jennifer