This week’s mystery movie was the 1949 Twentieth Century-Fox picture “The Fan,” with Jeanne Crain, Madeleine Carroll, George Sanders, Richard Greene, Martita Hunt, John Sutton, Hugh Dempster, Richard Ney and Virginia McDowall.
Screenplay by Walter Reisch, Dorothy Parker and Ross Evans, based on Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan.” Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof, director of photography Joseph LaShelle, art direction Lyle Wheeler and Leland Fuller, set decorations Thomas Little and Paul S. Fox, film editor Louis Loeffler, wardrobe direction Charles LeMaire, costumes designed by Rene Hubert, orchestral arrangements Edward Powell and Maurice dePackh, makeup Ben Nye, special photographic effects Fred Sersen, sound E. Clayton Ward and Roger Heman. Directed and produced by Otto Preminger.
“The Fan” is available on DVD from TCM.
I didn’t expect “The Fan” to be this much of a stumper. I chose it primarily because of Martita Hunt, but after previewing the movie, I discovered that Google image search turned up most of her images.
(Note: I always check mystery movie images in Google image search, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find good ones that aren’t already online. Whenever you see an image that is fuzzy or not at the optimum angle, it’s because the better shot turns up in Google image search. This is especially true of films in color).
I am not generally a George Sanders fan and like him best when he isn’t being smooth, oily, world-weary George Sanders, as in “Voyage to Italy” and as the elderly Lord Darlington. Gene Tierney was originally cast in the film as Lady Windermere, but was pregnant at the time and replaced by Jeanne Crain, who was filming “A Letter to Three Wives.”
Writing in the New York Times (April 2, 1949) , Bosley Crowther did not approve of such goings-on:
The last point which one might imagine that Oscar Wilde set out to make in the glittering and glib insincerities of his “Lady Windermere’s Fan” is that mother-love, solemn and selfless, is a rare and exalting thing. Somehow that elevating concept has never seemed the most salient in the play. Yet that is the great realization toward which all creation moves in “The Fan,” a film based upon the Wilde play, which came to the Roxy yesterday.
Most of the brittle wit and satire of Mr. Wilde’s conversation piece has been lost in the making of this picture, except for a few scattered scenes, an occasional epigrammatic sally and the shadow of one character. The Duchess of Berwick, that old windbag of Victorian pomp and snobbery, is brilliantly indicated by Martita Hunt in a couple of brief scenes. And once in a while somebody has a mild paradox to let fall.
But for the rest of this nicely costumed picture which Otto Preminger has directed and produced for Twentieth Century-Fox is a strangely uninspired nostalgic romance.
Twentieth Century-Fox adds a plug for “Gentleman’s Agreement” in the opening of “The Fan,” setting the scene in London.
For Monday, we have a mystery gentleman. And I know this will come as extreme shock – but he does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is Hugh Dempster.
For Tuesday, we have two mystery gents. The fellow on the left is so incredibly mysterious that he has no lines.
Update: This is Trevor Ward, examining “the fan.” I had to discard a much better image of him because it was all over Google.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum, Monday’s mystery gent.
For Wednesday, we have a mystery woman. She most certainly does not approve of such goings-on. Certainly not.
Update: This is Madeleine Carroll in age makeup.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery auctioneer).
For Thursday, Monday’s mystery gent has a mysterious companion. And as you may have guessed, this new fellow does not approve of such goings-on.
Update: This is Hugh Dempster with “the fan” (hint, hint) and John Sutton.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery woman).
For Friday, Wednesday’s mystery woman has a not terribly mysterious companion. They have been aged for the mystery film.
Update: This is George Sanders and Madeleine Carroll in heavy age makeup.
We also have these mysterious women…
Update: This is Jeanne Crain and Martita Hunt.
And here is Wednesday’s mystery woman without her age makeup. And three dapper fellows of varying mysteriousness.
Update: Madeleine Carroll with, from left, Frank Elliott, George Sanders, John Sutton and Richard Greene.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery gents), Mary Mallory (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Don Danard (Thursday’s disapproving mystery chap with the pipe) and Anne Papineau (Thursday’s disapproving gent with the pipe).