Laughing Anne

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Laughing Anne
"Laughing Anne" (1953).jpg
Directed by Herbert Wilcox
Produced byHerbert Wilcox
Written byPamela Bower
Based onStory Because of the Dollars and play Laughing Anne by Joseph Conrad
Starring Margaret Lockwood
Wendell Corey
Forrest Tucker
Ronald Shiner
Music by Anthony Collins
Cinematography Mutz Greenbaum
Edited byBasil Warren
Herbert Wilcox Productions (as Imperadio)
Distributed by Republic (UK) & (US)
Release date
September 1953 (UK)
Running time
90 mins

Laughing Anne is a 1953 British adventure film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Wendell Corey, Margaret Lockwood, Forrest Tucker, and Ronald Shiner. [1] It was adapted from Joseph Conrad's short story, "Because of the Dollars" and from his 1923 two-act play, Laughing Anne. [2] [3]



In a cafe, a Polish seaman, Joseph Conrad tells a story... In the 1880s a ships captain called Davidson is left by his wife. He gets drunk and visits Farrell's Bar where the star attraction is the singer, Laughing Anne. Anne is in an abusive relationship with a man called Jem Farrell.

Anne stows away on Davidson's boat, saying she is leaving Farrell. Anne and Davidson fall for each other. She reveals her past.

She was a popular singer in Paris in love with boxer Farrell, who is about to challenge for the world title. Farrell refuses to throw the fight and gangsters mutilate his hands, causing his boxing career to end.

Davidson proposes to Anne and they sleep together but she feels she cannot leave Farrell and returns to him.

Six years ago, Davidson finds Anne again - and her son to Farrell, Davey. Anne discovers a plan by Farrell to steal Davidson's cargo. She warns Davidson but is killed. Davidson kills Farrell and then raises Davey. [4]



In 1952 Herbert Wilcox announced he had signed a co production deal with Herbert Yates of Republic Pictures to make films together starring Anna Neagle and John Wayne, to be shot in color and aimed at international markets. The projects would include an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's The King's General and Joseph Conrad's Laughing Anne. [5] [6]

Laughing Anne would instead be made with Margaret Lockwood, who had signed a long-term contract with Wilcox, and two Hollywood names: Forrest Tucker and Wendell Corey. (Tucker had been under contract to Republic for six years. [7] ) As extra box office insurance, Ronald Shiner was cast in a leading role. [8] Lockwood's performance was done in the style of Marlene Dietrich. [9]

Lockwood called it "the story of a gay woman who had a very unhappy marriage and love affair, and ends up looking aged and worn. I shudder to remember just what a lifelike job the make up men did on me for my "aged and worn" scenes." [10]


The film had to be cut for release in the US, including removal of the word "damn" and a scene where Lockwood swam nude. [11]


The film was not well received, critically or commercially. [12] It contributed to the decline in Lockwood's career. [13]

Critical reception

The New York Times wrote:

"Always a man for pictorial respectability, Mr. Wilcox does quite nicely by an unelaborate budget, letting the Technicolor camera play over turn-of-the-century, gaslit rooms, shipboard and island exteriors and interiors. Several shots of a schooner braving awesome jungle waters are excellent. Furthermore, the film is based on a work by that master yarn-spinner and psychological prober, Joseph Conrad. The trimmings remain. But Mr. Wilcox's casual direction and a lusterless adaptation by Pamela Bower compress the story into a plodding reprise of thwarted love, sacrifice and skulduggery... In the most colorless casting, Mr. Corey is quietly effective, Miss Lockwood ranges from skittish to grim, and Mr. Forrest glares or snarls. As a sailor, Ronald Shiner takes care of the humor department. And in the role of Mr. Conrad, no less, a bearded, scholarly-looking actor named Robert Harris hears the story from Mr. Forrest in flashback on the sidelines. This much, undoubtedly, is as it should be." [14]


  1. "Laughing Anne (1953)". BFI. Archived from the original on 13 January 2009.
  2. "Laughing Anne (1953) - Notes -". Turner Classic Movies.
  3. LAUGHING ANNE Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 20, Iss. 228, (Jan 1, 1953): 144.
  4. "Laughing Anne". The Australian Women's Weekly . 21 (38). 17 February 1954. p. 52. Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "TOP STARS OF U.S., U.K. FOR FILMS". The News . 58 (8, 981). Adelaide. 22 May 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  6. Drama: Kramer Plans Episodic Form for 'Blue' Picture; Wayne, Neagle to Costar Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 22 May 1952: B11.
  7. "MOVIE NOTES". The Cessnock Eagle and South Maitland Recorder . 43 (4213). New South Wales. 1 May 1953. p. 3. Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "Mason is foreign at home". The Australian Women's Weekly . 20 (28). 10 December 1952. p. 12. Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "Star's new style". The Sun (2595). Sydney. 18 January 1953. p. 46. Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  10. Lockwood, Margaret (1955). Lucky Star: The Autobiography of Margaret Lockwood. Odhams Press Limited. p. 164.
  11. "Vanishing act for Margaret". The News . 61 (9, 441). Adelaide. 12 November 1953. p. 5. Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "FILM PAGE". The Mail . 43 (2, 180). Adelaide. 20 March 1954. p. 4 (SUNDAY MAGAZINE). Retrieved 1 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  13. Vagg, Stephen (29 January 2020). "Why Stars Stop Being Stars: Margaret Lockwood". Filmink.

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