Hatter's Castle (1941)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Apr 19, 1942 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Hatter's Castle is a fierce melodrama that also wants to be a soaring tragedy, but doesn't quite reach its goal. As a result, it doesn't quite satisfy as either; while that doesn't keep it from being a good film, it does keep it from being the great film for which its creators seem to be striving. The problem lies not so much with the script, which is not perfect but which does have all the elements that a good tragedy needs; rather, the problem is with director Lance Comfort's use of those elements. He plays things a bit too obviously, with the result that individual scenes (and thus the film as a whole) lose a bit of their impact. In addition, characters occasionally come across as a bit forced and exaggerated. (Non-English viewers, unfamiliar with the Tay Bridge incident, will also probably find the timing of the death of Dennis somewhat unbelievable.) Comfort does do a fine job with the ending, however, and if his work could use more subtlety, it's still not bad. He's also blessed with a superior cast, from the young and devastating Deborah Kerr to the reprehensible Robert Newton, with an appealing (and also youthful) James Mason thrown in for good measure. The acting more than makes up for any other flaws in the film, which also boasts very good period design.