Candles at Nine

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Candles at Nine
Candles at Nine (1944 film).jpg
Opening title
Directed by John Harlow
Screenplay by Basil Mason
John Harlow
Based onnovel The Mouse Who Wouldn't Play Ball by Anthony Gilbert [1]
Produced byWallace Orton
Starring Jessie Matthews
John Stuart
Beatrix Lehmann
Cinematography James Wilson
Edited byVi Burdon (uncredited)
Music byscore composed & directed by:
Charles Williams
Distributed byAnglo-American Film Corporation (UK)
Release date
  • 1944 (1944)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Candles at Nine is a 1944 British mystery film directed by John Harlow and starring Jessie Matthews, John Stuart and Beatrix Lehmann. [2] A wealthy man taunts his relations and staff about which of them shall inherit his estate after he changes his Will; the same night, he falls down the stairs. His money is left to a distant female relative; a target for intrigue, from some, and murder, from another. [3] It is based on the 1943 novel The Mouse Who Wouldn't Play Ball by Anthony Gilbert.



After the mysterious death of wealthy old Everard Hope (Eliot Makeham), his avaricious relatives are little pleased to discover that his estate has been left to distant relation Dorothea Capper (Jessie Matthews), a young showgirl. The one condition of the will is that she must stay in Hope's spooky mansion for a month. After several attempts on Dorothea's life, detective William Gardener (John Stuart) decides to investigate.


Critical reception

TV Guide dismissed the film as a "Tedious mystery"; [4] while Allmovie wrote, "the creaky pacing by director John Harlow makes the first half of the movie seem more soporific than atmospheric...the movie finally takes off when Matthews shows up on screen, and the visuals, the editing, the music, and the pacing all come to life. The problem there is that she looks a little long-of-tooth for the role she's playing, in terms of the element of wide-eyed wonder that she must display at her sudden good fortune -- at 37, even with lots of energy and great makeup, she looks awkward doing a role that would have been better suited to her in 1934. Beatrix Lehmann's portrayal of the housekeeper whose services she inherits comes from the Judith Anderson school of performing...and her creepy portrayal is one of the best things in the movie. There are also a couple of charming (and brief) musical sequences, one of them breaking the tension at just the right moment as the thriller's plot winds tighter. The whole thing doesn't hang together seamlessly, but it's an enjoyable diversion, if one hangs in past the first 18 minutes' tedium." [5]

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  1. Goble, Alan (1 January 1999). The Complete Index to Literary Sources in Film. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN   9783110951943 via Google Books.
  2. "Candles at Nine (1944)".
  3. "Candles at Nine (1945)". Archived from the original on 14 January 2009.
  4. "Candles At Nine".
  5. "Candles at Nine (1944) - John Harlow - Review - AllMovie". AllMovie.