Obsessed with playing cards, and determined to win at all costs, the Countess Ranerskaya makes a diabolical deal, exchanging her soul for the ability to play and always win, something noticed by Army Captain Herman Surorin, who realises that the elderly woman seemingly cannot lose and is determined to discover her secret. Obsessed with power, money and influence, yet living like a pauper in order to hoard his wealth, Surorin is consumed with discovering what makes the old lady so infallible, but is driven to murder her when she will not reveal her secret. Surorin starts to believe that her luck has passed onto him as he starts to win games once more, believing that he has dispatched his only rival in the field, but he soon starts to realise that he is being watched, even getting the feeling he is not alone when he clearly is, and soon understands that the old woman’s spirit is haunting him, and is willing to make a wager for his very life.....
A quite brilliant ghost story, with a truly chilling and clammy atmosphere, The Queen Of Spades
, adapted from the short story by Russian writer Alexander Pushkin, is a terrific piece of work but is sadly under-appreciated, other British horror pics of the period, such as the masterpiece Dead Of Night
meaning that this excellent piece of work by effective director Thorald Dickenson (Gaslight / The Arsenal Stadium Mystery
) is often sadly overlooked. The very fine Anton Walbrook (49th Parallel / The Red Shoes
) gives a truly remarkable performance as the obsessed Surorin being driven to murder in order to gain what he sees as the Countess’ secret, not knowing that is indeed a deal with the Devil himself. Terrifically played, and Edith Evans (The Importance Of Being Earnest / Look Back In Anger
makes the Countess both oddly charmingly eccentric and rather frighteningly driven, a lot of film’s effect comes from superb photography by Otto Heller, a very fine Director of Photography who also did not perhaps get the praise and reputation he deserved despite lensing pivotal British films including Laurence Olivier’s Richard III
, Ealing Studios films such as The Ladykillers
, and Michael Powell’s shattering Peeping Tom
. A neglected minor masterpiece, and the final card game is a masterclass in editing and the building of genuine suspense, The Queen Of Spades
deserves a major re-evaluation, and it a beautifully crafted piece of work, which will really give an audience the chills, and all without a drop of blood or weapon-weilding maniac in sight.