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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Man of Evil" )


directed by Anthony Asquith
UK 1944


After the death of her foster father, Fanny is employed by her real father (a Cabinet minister) as a servant, and uncovers various things about his wife and her lover Lord Manderstoke that might best have stayed under wraps.

Fanny by Gaslight was made to cash in on the success of The Man in Grey (d. Leslie Arliss, 1943), and used many of the same ingredients: lead actors Phyllis Calvert, James Mason and Stewart Granger, a nineteenth-century setting that provided plenty of opportunities for lavish costume display, a similar mix of archetypal "good" and "bad" male and female characters, and a surprisingly racy and distinctly un-British attitude towards sexuality.

Anthony Asquith was the biggest "name" director to work on a Gainsborough melodrama, and his experience helped wring rather more impressive production values than the budget might otherwise have allowed. There are also some strikingly imaginative touches, such as the face of Clive Seymore (Stuart Lindsell) literally fragmenting in the mirror prior to his suicide, paralleling his mental breakdown as he realises he's run out of options.

Excerpt of review from Michael Brooke for BFI screenonline located HERE


Theatrical Release: May 1944 (UK)

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DVD Review: VCI - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:42:56

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.6 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (English)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: VCI

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• None

DVD Release Date: May 15th, 2012
Keep Case

Chapters 13



The Criterion Collection released 3 of the Gainsborough melodramas in the highly recommended Eclipse set Three Wicked Melodramas from Gainsborough Pictures, but they could've made it "Four melodramas" and included this title, released between The Man in Grey and Madonna of the Seven Moons. The film shares the same time period, the same cast (Phyllis Calvert, James Mason and Stewart Granger were all in The Man in Grey and Jean Kent can be seen in small roles in Madonna of the Seven Moons and The Wicked Lady). Fanny by Gaslight (released initially in US as Man of Evil) makes its DVD debut in region 1 from VCI, licensed from ITV as was the Criterion set.


Unfortunately, compared to the films in the set, the transfer is weaker, with some damage, extensive grain and digital noise. The film seems to be transferred from the PAL source and the running time matches region 2 release of the film - in UK the film is only available in a 12-film Stewart Granger Collection, but there were Italian and German releases. We don't own those releases to compare. The audio is weak as well, with some noise and cracks, but thankfully the English subtitles are included. There are no extras provided on the disc, but if you enjoyed the films in the Criterion set, this disc is recommended with some reservations just based on the quality of the film itself.

  - Gregory Meshman


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Region 1 - NTSC

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