Conspirator (1950)

85 or 87 mins | Romance | 24 March 1950

Director:

Victor Saville

Cinematographer:

F. A. Young

Production Designer:

Alfred Junge

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

Conspirator was the second picture filmed by M-G-M at its Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England. For more information on the studio's productions at Elstree, please see the entry below for Edward, My Son . An Oct 1948 DV news item noted that half the film would be made in the English countryside. Some filming took place at Manod, in Wales, and three nights of filming took place at the Holborn Underground station in London. A Jan 1949 NYT article noted that in addition to closing the Underground station for three successive nights, the London Passenger Transport Board provided M-G-M with a working train and four double-deck buses. The services provided by the London Passenger Transport Board were said to have been part of a new British policy intended to attract more American filmmakers to England.
       A 6 Feb 1950 news item in DV noted that the film's story bore some resemblance to the real life story of Dr. Claus Fuchs, a British atomic scientist who was arrested and charged with espionage. The same news item indicated that M-G-M would take full advantage of the timeliness of the case in its promotion of the film. Regional censorship reports contained in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicate that the film was banned in Finland on the grounds that it might "jeopardize the relations of foreign countries." An Oct 1950 news item in HCN notes that the film was banned from a theater in New Delhi, India. The news item speculated that the ban may have been ordered by the city of New Delhi ... More Less

Conspirator was the second picture filmed by M-G-M at its Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England. For more information on the studio's productions at Elstree, please see the entry below for Edward, My Son . An Oct 1948 DV news item noted that half the film would be made in the English countryside. Some filming took place at Manod, in Wales, and three nights of filming took place at the Holborn Underground station in London. A Jan 1949 NYT article noted that in addition to closing the Underground station for three successive nights, the London Passenger Transport Board provided M-G-M with a working train and four double-deck buses. The services provided by the London Passenger Transport Board were said to have been part of a new British policy intended to attract more American filmmakers to England.
       A 6 Feb 1950 news item in DV noted that the film's story bore some resemblance to the real life story of Dr. Claus Fuchs, a British atomic scientist who was arrested and charged with espionage. The same news item indicated that M-G-M would take full advantage of the timeliness of the case in its promotion of the film. Regional censorship reports contained in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicate that the film was banned in Finland on the grounds that it might "jeopardize the relations of foreign countries." An Oct 1950 news item in HCN notes that the film was banned from a theater in New Delhi, India. The news item speculated that the ban may have been ordered by the city of New Delhi following intervention by the Russian embassy. The film received mostly negative reviews when it was released in 1950, and despite its timeliness, many critics disliked the story. The NYT reviewer called the film "singularly devoid of conviction," while Time magazine called it "a study in stupidity." Elizabeth Taylor was sixteen years old when the film went into production, and Robert Taylor, who played her onscreen husband, was thirty-seven. At the time of its release, the picture was heavily publicized as Elizabeth Taylor's first adult role. A biography of Taylor states that Renee Helmer served as her stand-in. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Feb 1950.
---
Daily Variety
27 Sep 48
p. 4.
Daily Variety
8 Nov 1948.
---
Daily Variety
6 Feb 50
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Feb 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Feb 50
p. 11.
Hollywood Citizen-News
12 Oct 1950.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oc 1948
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 49
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 50
p. 3, 8
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Feb 50
pp. 197-98.
New York Times
30 Jan 1949.
---
New York Times
28 Apr 50
p. 26.
Time
22 May 1950.
---
Variety
3 Aug 50
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Conspirator by Humphrey Slater (New York, 1948).
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 March 1950
Production Date:
9 November 1948--1 February 1949 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Boreham Wood, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 November 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2616
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
85 or 87
Length(in feet):
7,815
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
13717
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In London, in 1949, Melinda Greyton, a beautiful, eighteen-year-old American, attends a ball with her friend and sponsor, Joyce Penistone. The otherwise dull evening brightens when handsome, serious Maj. Michael Curragh of the British Army asks Melinda to dance. Despite their age difference, Melinda and Michael are strongly attracted to each other and begin a whirlwind romance. One day, however, Michael receives a mysterious, unsigned postcard at his home and, donning a hat, mackintosh and eyeglasses, takes the Underground to an old house. There, Michael meets a Russian named Alek and gives him a coded account of a General Staff meeting he attended. After complaining to Alek about the amount of time that the "Party" demands of him, Michael breaks that evening's date with Melinda and travels to Wales, where his beloved aunt Jessica lives. Sensing that her nephew, whose Irish mother exposed him to the activities of the Irish Republican Army during his childhood, is lonely and confused, Jessica advises him to find someone to love. Michael then telephones Melinda and invites her to join him. Although Michael's sudden departure had greatly upset Melinda, she accepts without hesitation and quickly ingratiates herself with Jessica. During a playful rabbit hunt with Jessica's grandchildren, however, Melinda becomes upset when Michael displays no empathy for a rabbit whose legs have been crushed by a trap. Michael apologizes for his insensitivity and, after professing his love, proposes. Following a lavish London wedding, Melinda moves into Michael's flat and is welcomed by Michael's housekeeper, Broaders. Soon after, Michael is summoned to another clandestine meeting and tells Alek and his secretary about his marriage, reassuring ... +


In London, in 1949, Melinda Greyton, a beautiful, eighteen-year-old American, attends a ball with her friend and sponsor, Joyce Penistone. The otherwise dull evening brightens when handsome, serious Maj. Michael Curragh of the British Army asks Melinda to dance. Despite their age difference, Melinda and Michael are strongly attracted to each other and begin a whirlwind romance. One day, however, Michael receives a mysterious, unsigned postcard at his home and, donning a hat, mackintosh and eyeglasses, takes the Underground to an old house. There, Michael meets a Russian named Alek and gives him a coded account of a General Staff meeting he attended. After complaining to Alek about the amount of time that the "Party" demands of him, Michael breaks that evening's date with Melinda and travels to Wales, where his beloved aunt Jessica lives. Sensing that her nephew, whose Irish mother exposed him to the activities of the Irish Republican Army during his childhood, is lonely and confused, Jessica advises him to find someone to love. Michael then telephones Melinda and invites her to join him. Although Michael's sudden departure had greatly upset Melinda, she accepts without hesitation and quickly ingratiates herself with Jessica. During a playful rabbit hunt with Jessica's grandchildren, however, Melinda becomes upset when Michael displays no empathy for a rabbit whose legs have been crushed by a trap. Michael apologizes for his insensitivity and, after professing his love, proposes. Following a lavish London wedding, Melinda moves into Michael's flat and is welcomed by Michael's housekeeper, Broaders. Soon after, Michael is summoned to another clandestine meeting and tells Alek and his secretary about his marriage, reassuring them that it will not interfere with his work. When Alek informs Michael that he has violated Party rules by marrying, Michael asks to talk with Radek, the "general director," but is informed that Radek never sees anyone. Sometime later, Michael tells Melinda that he has to visit his old army servant, Taploe, and cannot accompany her to a bridge game with Joyce and Capt. Hugh Ladholme, Melinda's former suitor. During the game, Hugh refers to Michael's servant by a different name, and Melinda is filled with suspicion. When questioned later, Michael calmly informs Melinda that he had another servant besides Taploe and reassures her that he is not having an affair. Melinda's uneasiness returns, however, when she finds his fake eyeglasses and mackintosh. After learning that Melinda has sent the coat to the cleaners, Michael yells at her to retrieve it and grabs her when she refuses. Michael then demands that she act like a proper wife and, stunned, Melinda apologizes. After a period of calm, Melinda inadvertently discovers an uncoded message that Michael was intending to give to Radek, which reveals that Michael has been spying for the Communists. Although Michael tries to justify his activities by telling the horrified Melinda about his uncaring English father and his exciting life among the Irish rebels, she can only see him as a traitor. When Melinda threatens to leave unless he gives up spying, Michael agrees to stop. Shortly before Michael, Hugh, fellow officer Henry Raglan, and their superior, Col. Hammerbrook, are to leave with Melinda on a hunting trip to Norfolk, however, Melinda intercepts another unsigned postcard. Distressed by Michael's duplicity, Melinda insists that he resign his commission or face exposure by her. Michael agrees and tells Alek that he is resigning from the Party, but Alek coldly reminds him of the loyalty oath he took. Alek then announces that Radek has ordered him to kill Melinda. Soon after, while hunting with Melinda in Norfolk, Michael contemplates shooting her, but before he can, his rifle accidentally fires, just missing her. Back in London, Melinda, unsure whether Michael intended to shoot at her, confides her situation to Joyce, who advises her to leave Michael immediately. Meanwhile, Alek and his secretary, who reveals himself to be Radek, demand that Michael complete his assignment, or face dire consequences. Upon arriving home, Michael discovers that Melinda has been packing and tries to stop her, struggling with her on the stairs. Broaders enters and interrupts the fight, and Melinda flees. Desperate, Michael goes to the old house, but finds it abandoned. When he phones Radek at the Russian embassy, he is told that "Michael Curragh" is dead and, understanding the meaning behind the pronouncement, stumbles home. Just then, Melinda arrives with Hugh and Hammerbrook, but before they can confront Michael, he shoots himself. Hugh then informs the grieving Melinda that Hammerbrook had known about Michael's spying for some time but, for security reasons, allowed him to continue. Aware of how the public would react if Hammerbrook's decision were known, Hugh asks Melinda to say that Michael killed himself because she had left him and, through her tears, she agrees. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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