Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Woman of Twilight (1952)
(2023 Restoration)


Starring: Freda Jackson, Rene Ray, Lois Maxwell, Laurence Harvey, Vida Hope, Joan Dowling and Dora Bryan
Distributor: StudioCanal


Certificate: 12
Release Date: 27 March 2023

Unmarried Vivianne Bruce finds herself alone and pregnant when her lover, nightclub singer Jerry Nolan, is arrested for murder. Desperate for a place to live, she finds a room in a boarding-house run by "Nellie" Alistair. An outwardly upstanding woman who provides room-and-board for unmarried mothers Nellie is, in fact, ruthless with an ulterior motive... selling children for adoption. Events take a tragic turn and Vivianne confronts Nellie, determined to put a stop to the exploitation and cruelty in the house...

StudioCanal release, for the first time on Blu-ray, Gordon Parry's 1952 screen adaptation of Sylvia Rayman's play, Woman of Twilight. It's quite a bleak, depressing movie and, like Vivianne the more that the viewer discovers the more questions are thrown up.

The film has an incredibly well cast line up of actresses and it was interesting to note how ahead of its time it was. Its subject matter was quite controversial for its time, and incredibly, apart from one role, all of the main characters are women... and all strong, independent women too.

As a gritty drama, it still stands up well today. It's interesting to note how times have changed. While on its original theatrical release it gained an adult X certificate, it's now deemed suitable for anyone over the age of 12 to watch.

Extras include Melanie Williams on Women of Twilight (18 min, 52 sec, which puts the movie into historical context. At the time it was seen very much as a social critique on unmarried mothers. Williams looks at the original play and how it came to be transferred to the big screen. It was the first British film to be given an X certificate from the censor. It's also revealed that several of the actors originally also starred in the play - including Rene Ray and Freda Jackson. However, Marc David Jacobs, in the Blu-ray's other feature, states that Jackson was in the film adaptation first, before moving on to star in the play once principal photography had finished. Williams also reveals that during production, actress Lois Maxwell (who would go on to play Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond movies) conducted a press interview where she revealed that despite the bleak subject matter, and tension on screen between the characters, that everyone got on well together and that it was a pleasure to turn up to the set each day); From Stage to Screen: Interview with Marc David Jacobs (34 min, 20 sec reveals that the play's author was born in 1923, so this Blu-ray release celebrates 100 years since her birth. He also explains that the film hints that Dora Bryan's character, Olga, is a prostitute. When you see the evidence it's so obvious. He also points out some of the lines the censors wanted changing. Veronica's original dialogue "I was raped" had to be changed to "I was taken advantage of". It was interesting to learn that in the original play Mrs Allistair's backstory was fleshed out more. In the movie her actions seem to be dictated by financial greed, whereas in the play we learn she lost her own child in infancy and she was once a nurse. She looks down at the women she rents too as it's her view that they got themselves into their own predicament); and Stills Gallery (57 sec - 10 black and white photos).

If I had one slight complaint it's that the sound is a little off in places. There's a scene with a car which just sounds weird and echoes quiet badly, and there's even one scene where the dialogue is hard to hear because of the bizarre, echo in the sound mix.

An impressive lost classic that is a worrying reminder of the social norms of a bygone era.


Darren Rea

Buy this item online