That essay was reprinted in the fourth NC annual, but is long out of print and the powers that be seem determined to keep that chapter of their history firmly closed, so here is an excerpt from Savage's essay that provides an overview of THE WOMAN IN QUESTION, a film that would be a wonderful follow-up for CAST A CROOKED SHADOW:
The Woman in Question (British title Five Angles of Murder), a 1950 film from director Anthony Asquith, is a complex character study of Agnes (Jean Kent), a seaside fortune-teller known as Madame Astra. The film begins with the discovery of the body of Agnes, and then the film moves into a police procedural as Superintendent Lodge (Duncan Macrae) begins an investigation. Lodge’s investigation is predicated on understanding the victim, but the investigation is complicated by the various views he receives of Agnes:
—According to snoopy neighbour and charwoman Mrs. Finch (Hermione Baddeley), Agnes was a kind, genteel lady living in straitened circumstances.
—According to Agnes’s younger sister Catherine (Susan Shaw), Agnes was a slovenly drunk who thought of no-one but herself, neglected her invalid husband and had designs on vaudeville artist Bob Baker (Dirk Bogarde).
—Bob, who is waiting for a divorce in order to marry Catherine, confirms that Agnes was manipulative, vindictive and jealous.
—Yet to mild-mannered pet shop owner, Albert Pollard (Charles Victor), Agnes was a delicate creature who needed his protection.
—Finally, to Irish sailor Murray (John McCallum). Agnes was a warm, loving, yet fickle, promiscuous woman.
As the police investigate Agnes’s murder, conflicting views of Agnes merge to create a portrait of a complex woman. Which view is true?
If we scrape away gossip and snobbiness, rivalry between siblings, anger and jealousy, what it left underneath--the “real” Agnes--still isn’t pleasant. Agnes is a spiteful woman who has abandoned her terminally ill husband, bleeds her admirers for what she can get from them, and causes trouble simply because she can. She inspires murderous thoughts, and at the same time, there’s something about her that causes those in her social sphere to read various meanings into her actions. Agnes appears to have a curious, fractured identity which reflects the images various people in her life want to see. As a result, Albert sees Agnes as a better human being than she is, and others see her as far worse.