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The Tenth Man (1936)

George Winters is a self-made man, a wealthy unscrupulous businessman and M.P. for Middlepool who has married into the impoverished nobility for reasons of status. But when his wife ... See full summary »

Writers:

Jack Davies (additional dialogue), Marjorie Deans (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Lodge ... George Winter
Antoinette Cellier ... Catherine Winter
Athole Stewart Athole Stewart ... Lord Etchingham
Clifford Evans ... Ford
Iris Hoey ... Lady Etchingham
Aileen Marson ... Anne Etchingham
George Graves ... Colonel Trent
Frank Cochran Frank Cochran ... Bennett
Bruce Lester ... Edward O'Donnell (as Bruce Lister)
Barry Sinclair Barry Sinclair ... Robert Colby
Hindle Edgar Hindle Edgar ... Jason
Edith Sharpe Edith Sharpe ... Miss Hobbs
Anthony Holles Anthony Holles ... Swalescliffe
John Harwood John Harwood ... Morrison
Aubrey Mallalieu Aubrey Mallalieu ... Bank Manager
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Storyline

George Winters is a self-made man, a wealthy unscrupulous businessman and M.P. for Middlepool who has married into the impoverished nobility for reasons of status. But when his wife threatens to divorce him in public immediately before a general election, a scandal threatens that could endanger his latest bit of shady dealing. Winters is a man used to winning, and he will do absolutely anything to make sure he keeps his seat in Parliament, his ill-gotten gains and his wife... Written by Igenlode Wordsmith

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Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 November 1937 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Soundtracks

Night Must Fall
Written by Edgar Blatt and Hugh Wade
Sung by Dinah Miller
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User Reviews

 
Plus Ça Change...
28 January 2007 | by Igenlode WordsmithSee all my reviews

Nine men out of ten can be manipulated; but the tenth man, when it comes down to it, will stick in his heels and obey the dictates of conscience. The art of politics, according to this polished, sardonic little film from 1936, lies in manipulating the 90% and avoiding running up against that tenth man. Seventy years later, in our jaded media age, the only shocking thing about the observation is the high percentage set on incorruptibles -- in a similar situation, modern pundits might plump for a figure of 1 in 100...

1930s politicians might have been obliged to orate to mass audiences rather than deliver TV soundbites, and party slogans may have been carried by sandwich-boards rather than billboards, but some things apparently never change. With shady dealings in the City and demands for a candidate's wife to Stand By Her Man, dirty tricks traded between parties, scandalsheets and sleaze, the electoral proceedings here would be as at home in the pages of tomorrow's tabloids as in those of P.G.Wodehouse. Far from being a period piece, it's all rather disturbingly familiar!

But while the amoral script and protagonist sparkle with cynicism and biting one-liners, the film as a whole performs an impressive and far more difficult manipulation; in the course of its brisk 70-minute running time, it manages to humanise not only George Winter, but a surrounding cast of what are -- on the face of it -- some of the most consistently unsympathetic characters on the screen. With the possible exception of Catherine, the nearest thing the film provides to an audience-identification figure, just about everyone we meet is sad, mad, bad, ridiculous or just plain weak, and they constitute little more than cardboard cut-outs to boot. By the finale, however, we not only find ourselves despite everything engaged in the fate of George Winter, we end up respecting such initial caricatures as Lord Etchinham. For what begins as brittle drawing-room satire, "The Tenth Man" ends up packing a considerable emotional punch.

The actual ending becomes blindingly obvious as soon as the truth about the gold mine is revealed; from here on there are only two timeworn clichés that the plot could follow, and sure enough it opts for the inevitable moralistic irony. (Even in the absence of a Hollywood-style Hays Code, public opinion might have frowned on anything else.) But at the start of the film, frankly, the last thing I'd have expected was to find myself caring one way or the other.

Coupled in a double-bill with the gloomy, expressionistic "Tell Tale Heart", this brisk-moving and acerbic political thriller followed as a pleasant, cynical surprise. Its amoral view of the upper classes reminded me at times of the Ealing classic "Kind Hearts and Coronets", and the polished back-biting was reminiscent of the crystalline malice of "The Women"; although I don't think "The Tenth Man" entirely matches the level of either. One thing that did strike me as slightly odd, though, was that leading man John Lodge appeared to me to be sporting a distinctly American accent: a Depression-era Hollywood player moonlighting for a British studio, or a subtle dig at the stereotypical get-rich-quick business type? Or just my mistaken perception?


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