95 minutes| U.K.| 1949| ?Black and White| Digital

This film screened 29th January 2010.

The late 1940s marked a high point for British cinema, which had developed a new confidence under the pressures of war. Dickinson’s version of Pushkin’s story, out of circulation for decades but now handsomely restored, can stand proudly alongside the better-known post-war films of David Lean, Carol Reed, the Powell-Pressburger team, and Ealing Studios. It’s hard to believe that he only took over the project at the last minute, when the original director dropped out, so precise is his control of decor, camera, performance and editing, which combine to create a truly chilling tale of horror. Anton Walbrook is as fine as he was in Gaslight, and legendary stage star Edith Evans, in her first film role for three decades, is equally memorable as the Countess who makes a bargain with the Devil in order to win at cards. This new print has an on-camera introduction by Martin Scorsese. Notes by Charles Barr

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