Peg of Old Drury

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Peg of Old Drury
"Peg of Old Drury" (1935).jpg
Directed by Herbert Wilcox
Screenplay by Miles Malleson
Based onthe play Masks and Faces by Charles Reade and Tom Taylor
Produced byHerbert Wilcox
Starring Anna Neagle
Cedric Hardwicke
Margaretta Scott
Cinematography Freddie Young
Edited by Merrill G. White
Herbert Wilcox Productions for British & Dominions Film Corporation
Distributed by United Artists Corporation (UK)
Release date
28 August 1935 (London) (UK)
Running time
75 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Peg of Old Drury is a 1935 British historical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Cedric Hardwicke and Margaretta Scott. [1] The film is a biopic of 18th century Irish actress Peg Woffington. It was based on the play Masks and Faces by Charles Reade and Tom Taylor. It contains passages of 18th century Shakespearian performance, from The Merchant of Venice , Richard III and As You Like It . [2]


The film was voted the third best British movie of 1936. [3] Wilcox said the film "was enormously successful both here and in the States, artistically as well as at the box office." [4]


The film is a very affectionate look at the life of Peg, and her relationship with David Garrick. It is a lavish costume drama and recreates a Hogarth-type atmosphere of contemporary London in the mid 18th century. It is laced with snippets of legendary history such as Lord Sandwich's invention of the sandwich. Peg is generally more popular with the men than with the women, particularly her fellow female actors. The film has it that Peg dies off stage at the end of the film.


Critical reception

The New York Times wrote, "with superb acting, photography that is effective and unusual, yet not bizarre, and direction that is gentleness and good taste itself, Peg of Old Drury is one of the finest cinema production ever to come out of England, or of anywhere else, for that matter"; [5] while TV Guide wrote, "Neagle and Hardwicke give impressive performances, and the excerpts from Shakespeare and Jonson are flawlessly mounted. Much of the film's power derives from the screenplay by actor Malleson in his first screenwriting assignment." [6] Graham Greene, writing for The Spectator , gave a more mixed review suggesting that there is "no historical truth to be found anywhere in the deft, neat tale". Greene remarked on the attractiveness of Neagle and found that the film was "very pretty", but concluded that "prettiness is a quality one wants, if at all, in small quantities". [7]

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  1. "Peg of Old Drury". BFI. Archived from the original on 16 December 2008.
  2. "Peg of Old Drury".
  3. "BEST FILM PERFORMANCE LAST YEAR". The Examiner (LATE NEWS EDITION and DAILY ed.). Launceston, Tasmania. 9 July 1937. p. 8. Retrieved 4 March 2013 via National Library of Australia.
  4. Wilcox, Herbert (1967). Twenty Five Thousand Sunsets. South Brunswick. p. 104.
  5. "Movie Review – Peg of Old Drury – At the Bijou –".
  6. "Peg Of Old Drury".
  7. Greene, Graham (13 September 1935). "On Wings of Song/Peg of Old Drury/Break of Hearts". The Spectator . (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome . p.  20. ISBN   0192812866.)