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Screevers on Film
Kind Lady is a 1935 drama film based on the play of the same name by Edward Chodorov and a short story called “The Silver Mask” by Hugh Walpole.
Plot: In London, Mary Herries (Aline McMahon) is a rich woman with a habit of contributing to those less fortunate than her. On her way home from a concert on Christmas Eve she discovers a poor, homeless pavement artist outside her estate. Mary takes pity on this artist, Henry Abbott (Basil Rathbone), and gives him some food and money.
After taking him in, she finds herself somewhat attracted to this artist; he is handsome, and quite knowledgeable of fine art, especially the paintings in Mary’s extensive collection. However, when she discovers that Henry has both a wife and a small child that he is struggling to support, she gives him some money and hand-me downs, and sends him on his way.
A few days later he shows up with some of his own paintings (which are absolutely awful) as well as some items he stole from Mary’s house on Christmas Eve. Henry demands a large amount of money for his paintings, which Mary eventually pays. She then discovers that Henry has left his wife and baby outside, in the rain.
His wife collapses and Mary, out of pity, lets Henry and his family stay with her until his wife is well. Soon, Mary’s servants have all quit, tired of dealing with Henry and his family, who are unreasonable and greedy. Once the servants are gone, Henry’s extended family arrives, and Mary discovers to her horror that Henry’s “family” is actually a gang of art thieves, planning to imprison her in her own house to gain control of her art collection.
And the lesson here is…..beware of ‘taking-in’ handsome pavement artists…lol
The film was remade in 1951 under the same name, although the pavement artist character was changed to an art dealer.
To avoid confusion with MGM’s 1951 remake, the 1936 version of Kind Lady was retitled House of Menace for television viewing in the 50’s.
I haven’t seen this film, and I’m having some difficulty tracking a copy down, so unfortunately I can’t share any pavement artist stills. But if you know of anybody who has a copy, drop me a line why-don’tcha
Researched by Philip Battle
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