Moss Rose
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGregory Ratoff
Written byNiven Busch
(adaptation)
Screenplay byJules Furthman
Tom Reed
Based onMoss Rose
by Joseph Shearing
Produced byGene Markey
StarringPeggy Cummins
Victor Mature
Ethel Barrymore
CinematographyJoseph MacDonald
Edited byJames B. Clark
Music byDavid Buttolph
Color processBlack and white
Production
company
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • May 30, 1947 (1947-05-30)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Moss Rose is a 1947 American film noir mystery film directed by Gregory Ratoff and starring Peggy Cummins, Victor Mature and Ethel Barrymore.[1] It is an adaptation of the 1934 novel Moss Rose by Marjorie Bowen based on a real-life Victorian murder case.

Plot

Set in Victorian London, the story concerns a music hall chorus girl, Belle Adair, aka Rose Lynton, who blackmails a gentleman, Michael Drego, after seeing him leave the house where another dancer, Daisy Arrow, was found murdered. Instead of accepting money she demands to be invited to the man's stately home to experience the life of a lady. The woman becomes friends with the man's mother, Lady Margaret Drego, and his fiancée, Audrey Ashton, but her peace is disturbed when Inspector Clinner, played by Vincent Price, arrives to question them further about the murder. Then another murder is committed in similar circumstances.

Cast

Production

20th Century Fox announced they had paid their highest ever price for the screen rights to a 1934 novel by Marjorie Bowen for Moss Rose, but did not specify how much. The film was immediately assigned to Peggy Cummins, who had been fired from Forever Amber.[2]

"Ethel Barrymore was in it", Vincent Price said. "I was terrified of her until one day between takes she waddles up and whispers, ‘Got a smoke?’" [3]

Reception

Box-office

The film was a commercial disappointment. Darryl F. Zanuck called it "a catastrophe, for which I blame myself. Our picture was not as good as the original script and the casting was atrocious. The property lost $1,300,000 net."[4]

Critical response

When the film was released, The New York Times film critic, Bosley Crowther, praised the film, writing, "Readers of thriller fiction have been talking for quite some time about a writer called Joseph Shearing, whose many period mysteries are said to have a flavor and distinction all their own. And now it appears that film-goers will have reason to join the claque, if all of this author's output is as adaptable as the first to reach the screen. For Moss Rose, the first of several promised Shearing films, which hit the Roxy yesterday, is a suave and absorbing mystery thriller, neatly plotted and deliciously played ... Thanks to a splendid performance by Peggy Cummins in the role of the girl, there is something to watch when she is acting besides the consequence of the makeup artist's work. Her job as the Cockney chorine has spirit, humor and brass—and a surprisingly tender quality which nicely rounds the role."[5]

The staff at Variety magazine also gave the film a positive review. They wrote, "Moss Rose is good whodunit. Given a lift by solid trouping and direction, melodrama is run off against background of early-day England that provides effective setting for theme of destructive mother love ... Gregory Ratoff's direction develops considerable flavor to the period melodramatics. He gets meticulous performances from players in keeping with mood of piece."[6]

References

  1. ^ Moss Rose at the TCM Movie Database.
  2. ^ "FOX STARRING ROLE FOR MISS CUMMINS: Studio Pays Its Record Price to Get 'Moss Rose' as Film for English Actress Of Local Origin". New York Times. Sep 23, 1946. p. 27.
  3. ^ Bawden, James & Miller, Ron. You Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet. University Press of Kentucky: Lexington, Kentucky, 2017.
  4. ^ Memo from Darryl F Zanuck to Charlie Feldman, 7 June 1950, Memo from Darryl F. Zanuck, Grove Press 1993 p 168.
  5. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "Moss Rose Mystery Thriller at the Roxy Theatre, Offers Peggy Cummins and Victor Mature in the Principal Roles", July 3, 1947. Accessed: July 14, 2013.
  6. ^ Variety. Staff film review, 1947. Accessed: July 14, 2013.