Reviewed by Helene Hillier
Starring: Michael Denison, Dulcie Gray
Directed by: Lawrence Huntington
Running Time: 85 minutes (approx.)
Release Date: 6 October 2014
The Franchise Affair, originally released in 1951, is based on a successful novel by the Scottish crime writer Elizabeth Mackintosh (writing under the pseudonym Josephine Tey). The plot centres on a reclusive mother and daughter who live in the large Franchise House at the edge of a country town, and are accused of kidnapping and imprisoning a local teenage girl. As the weight of evidence stacks up against them they request the help of a local solicitor, Robert Blair. Despite his lack of experience in criminal matters Blair agrees to help them and soon finds himself in the centre of a complex case.
This film, which is part mystery and part courtroom drama, has an intriguing opening, is well paced, has plenty of twists and turns and kept me gripped right up until its resolution. Without wanting to give away the plot, the film tackles issues that remain relevant today, including the role of the media, prejudice, the reliability of witnesses, and the philosophy of an individual being innocent until proven guilty. However, the character of Betty Kane feels rather one-dimensional, and the major revelations are far less shocking to audiences now than they would have been in 1951.
The two lead actors (Michael Dension and Dulcie Gray, who were married in real life for nearly 60 years) are excellent and there is a real chemistry between them, with some gentle humour in addition to the drama. There is an entertaining performance by Marjorie Fielding as the indomitable Mrs Sharpe, and watch out for supporting performances by Kenneth More and Patrick Troughton.
The Franchise Affair is a fine example of light drama and is perfect for whiling away a cold, wet Sunday afternoon!
Available to buy from 6 October 2014 from Network here.