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A Cottage on Dartmoor

A small town hair salon is the backdrop for this beautifully realised story of jealousy and revenge, shot on the bleak landscape of Dartmoor. Balances masterly story telling with a degree of technical flair and expressionism rarely seen in British film.

We are very fortunate that this black and white silent filn will be accompanied on the paino by Neil Brand, playing his own score. Neil has toured with Paul Merton and is largely repsonsible for the re-evaluation of Asquith. "The doyen of silent film accompanists." (Torin Douglas, Radio  Four)


Anthony Asquith, the son of HH Asquith the Prime Minister during the First World War, made this, the last of his four silent films, when he was 27. This is the last of Asquith's four silent films, produced on the cusp of the transition from silents to talkies in British cinema, a point which is referenced in the film itself. He continued to make many other films, including adaptations of a number of Terence Rattigan plays such as The Winslow Boy and The Browning Version, until he died in 1964.

Joe (Uno Henning) works as a barber in a shop in a Devon town, alongside a manicurist called Sally (Norah Baring). He asks her out, but it is clear that Sally does not reciprocate Joe's feelings. Despite her lack of interest, Joe's infatuation develops into obsession. Meanwhile a regular client at the salon, young gentleman farmer Harry (Schlettow), begins to woo Sally, who is much more receptive to his attentions. The couple begin seeing each other, and one evening arrange to go to the local cinema. Unknown to them they are stalked by Joe, who sits behind them witnessing their obvious happiness together, eventually rushing out of the cinema in despair.

The following day Harry comes into the shop for his regular shave and manicure, and Joe notices that Sally is wearing an engagement ring. A verbal confrontation between Joe and Harry escalates into a struggle, during which Harry is slashed by Joe's cut-throat razor. Sally is convinced that Joe has deliberately tried to kill his rival, and following his arrest and trial, Joe is convicted of attempted murder. Vowing revenge on Sally and Harry, he is sent to Dartmoor Prison.

Years later, he escapes and makes his way across the moor to the isolated cottage where Harry and Sally, now maried with a child, now live. He surprises Sally who is now remorseful at her part in his imprisonment. She agrees to help him and there is a reconciliation between Joe and Harry. But at the point of escape, he decides to return to the cottage where he shot down by the prison guards, waiting for him there, dieing in Sally's arms.

Film Friday,
10 Oct 2011, 08:42