Woman in White, The (1948): Godfrey’s Historical Drama, Starring Alexis Smith

Peter Godfrey directed The Woman in White, based on Wilkie Collins’ novel of the same name, featuring Alexis Smith, Eleanor Parker, Sydney Greenstreet, and Gig Young.

Walking one night, Walter Hartright (Gig Young) sees a mysterious woman in white, who suddenly vanishes. A man in a carriage explains that a woman recently escaped from an asylum. Walter then glimpses another man hidden inside, Count Alesandro Fosco (Sydney Greenstreet).

Walter has been hired to teach drawing in a house populated by Marian Halcombe (Alexis Smith), cousin to Miss Laura Fairlie (Eleanor Parker); an elderly nurse Mrs. Vesey (Emma Dunn), and an invalid uncle, Frederick (John Abbott). He also meets a new guest, the suspicious Count Fosco.

When Walter meets the wealthy Laura, he’s stunned by her resemblance to the woman in white.  Told the story about the mysterious woman, Marian sets out to investigate, discovering an old letter written by Laura’s mother about a distant cousin, Anne Catherick, who came to visit one summer.

That evening Walter meets the woman in white, Anne, crying, wishing to warn Laura about something, but then suddenly disappearing. Walter confronts Fosco and Glyde that they are forcing Frederick to allow Glyde to marry Laura for her fortune. But they deny the charges.

Walter leaves Limmeridge House, and Laura marries Glyde. Months later, Marian comes back to Limmeridge only to realize that the new servants have replaced the old ones. Fosco and wife Countess Fosco (Agnes Moorehead) have moved in.

Fosco and Glyde find Anne, who suddenly dies from poisoning. They make the others believe that it’s Laura who has died. Walter attends the funeral, but he believes Laura is locked in an asylum. Fosco tries to drive Laura mad, but she escapes. Walter saves her, and in the scuffle, Glyde dies.

Marian wants Fosco to stop hurting Laura, as he was hypnotizing her to believe she is Anne. Marian offers that if he signs a confession, and stops bothering Laura, Marian will leave with him.

Fosco finally confesses that his wife, the countess, is Fredrick’s sister who had Anne out of wedlock. Fosco helped cover it up and married the countess soon after.

Fosco gives some jewels that belonged to the countess to Marian. The countess retrieves a long dagger and stabs him to death. The police arrive just as Fosco dies and the countess retrieves the emerald necklace Fosco tormented her with.

Walter narrates the ending, which depicts his marriage to Marian and the birth of their daughter. They are living with Laura and her son, while the Countess Fosco, Anne’s mother, is living in the renovated asylum.

Credits:

Warner

Running time: 109 Minutes

Release date: May 15, 1948