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Author: Brian Mcfarlane

Lance Comfort began to work in films between the age of 17 and 19, more or less growing up with the cinema. When he came to make 'B' films in the 1950s and 1960s, his wide-ranging expertise enabled him to deal efficiently with the constraints of tight budgets and schedules. He was astute at juggling several concurrent plot strands, his prescient anticipation of postwar disaffection, the invoking of film noir techniques to articulate the dilemma of the tormented protagonist. Comfort's reputation as a features director seemed to be made when Hatter's Castle, made by Paramount's British operation, opened at the Plaza, Piccadilly Circus, after a well-publicised charity première attended by the Duchess of Kent and luminaries such as Noel Coward. He had been in the film business for twenty years when, in 1946, he directed Margaret Lockwood in Bedelia. Comfort is not the only director who enjoyed his greatest prestige in the 1940s and drifted into providing fodder for the bottom half of the double-bill in the ensuing decades. There were six intervening films, justifying the journalist who described him in early 1943 as the Busiest British film director. Great Day, Portrait of Clare, Temptation Harbour, Bedelia, Daughter of Darkness, and Silent Dust were his six melodramas. He was an unpretentious craftsman who was also at best an artist, and in exploring his career trajectory, the viewer is rewarded by the spectacle of one who responded resiliently to the challenges of a volatile industry.

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Six melodramas
Brian Mcfarlane

The period of Lance Comfort’s most sustained achievement, when he comes nearest to being (in Bourdieu’s term) an autonomous cultural producer, begins with Great Day in 1945 and cuts off sharply with the commercial failure of Portrait of Clare in 1950. These two and the four intervening films – Bedelia ( 1946 ), Temptation Harbour (1947), Daughter of Darkness (1948), and Silent

in Lance Comfort
Brian Mcfarlane

film-makers (Charles Frank’s Uncle Silas, 1947, Lewis Allen’s So Evil My Love and Marc Allegret’s Blanche Fury, both 1948), all at least as accomplished as the Gainsborough films, failed to find critical or commercial favour. Further, Comfort’s melodramas, including Temptation Harbour (1947), Daughter of Darkness (1948), Silent Dust (1949) and Portrait of Clare (1950), were all perhaps too sombre for popular

in Lance Comfort
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Brian Mcfarlane

Mallinson and William Hartnell as Brown in Temptation Harbour (1947) 10 Siobhan McKenna (centre), as Emmy Baudine and Maxwell Read (right), as Dan in Daughter of Darkness (1948) 11 Robin Bailey (Dudley

in Lance Comfort
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Brian Mcfarlane

and made a work of melodrama that is fascinated by the power of monomaniacal tyranny and feels compassionately for its victims. It is probably fair to say that all his best work recalls the polarisations of this early triumph, though some such as Temptation Harbour complicate the mode with a brooding intensity and a rueful sense of life’s endemic difficulties. All these films, at least up to The Silent Dust, and in a

in Lance Comfort
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Robert Murphy

Goring in Take My Life (1947), and, more sympathetically, Portman in Daybreak (1947), Mason in The Upturned Glass (1947) and Newton in Temptation Harbour (1947), are all driven to desperate measures because of unscrupulous or feckless women. 12 Portman in Wanted for Murder (1946) is murderously mad, obsessed by his public hangman grandfather, but he is a victim rather than a villain and arouses our

in European film noir
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Filming in the 1950s and 60s
Brian Mcfarlane

close to the legal wind, is treated sympathetically by director Comfort. As in his major films, his sympathies are for life’s victims, even when their own weakness helps to expose them to danger. One recalls Captain Ellis in Great Day, Emmy Baudine in Daughter of Darkness, Mallinson in Temptation Harbour, whatever wrong they do, they are in some sense victims, albeit of their own natures. None of the five in the second

in Lance Comfort
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Andrew Spicer

of expressionist lighting than American noir, showing a greater debt to French poetic realism with its emphasis on atmosphere, fatalism and existentialism. Temptation Harbour (1947), a representative example, was adapted from a Georges Simenon novella. As in France, British noirs typically intertwine noir conventions with social realism, creating a cast of characters and a class-consciousness that are culturally specific, where

in European film noir
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Brian McFarlane and Anthony Slide

-sc), Thursday’s Child (1943, + d), Love Story (1944), Wanted for Murder (1946), Temptation Harbour (1947). BIBLIOG : Autobiography, Celluloid Mistress , 1954. Ackland-Snow, Brian ( b London, 1940 – d London, 2013). Production designer.Harrow Art School graduate associated with period pieces of the 1980s from the anachronistic McVicar (1980) to two stylish MERCHANT-IVORY ADAPTATIONS, A Room With a View (1985, AA/BAA, jointly with Gianni Quantara) and Maurice (1987), he later worked in the US, gaining an Emmy for Gone With the Wind sequel, Scarlett

in The Encyclopedia of British Film