|The Root of All Evil|
|Directed by||Brock Williams|
|Written by||Brock Williams|
|Based on||novel by J. S. Fletcher|
|Produced by||Harold Huth|
|Starring|| Phyllis Calvert |
|Edited by||Charles Knott|
|Music by||Bretton Byrd|
|Distributed by||General Film Distributors|
|Budget||over $1 million |
The Root of All Evil is a 1947 British drama film, directed by Brock Williams for Gainsborough Pictures and starring Phyllis Calvert and Michael Rennie. The film was the first directorial assignment for Williams, who was better known as a screenwriter, and also produced the screenplay based on the 1921 novel by J. S. Fletcher.
It was one of the less successful Gainsborough melodramas. 
Jeckie Farnish (Calvert) has grown up in a grindingly poor household, and as she reaches adulthood falls in love with a local grocers son. She is loved by her childhood playmate Joe Bartle (John McCallum), but takes him for granted and feels that he lacks the spark or ambition to match her determination to make something of herself. Instead she pursues Albert Grice (Hubert Gregg), son of a wealthy grocery store owner, and believes they have an understanding. She is horrified when Albert goes on holiday and returns newly married to another woman, heartbroken, she resolves to do whatever is necessary to claw her way out of poverty.
Seeing a possible payday as compensation for her disappointment, Jeckie sues Albert for breach of promise and emotional distress, and after she plays up her status as jilted victim to a local lawyer, she is awarded a considerable out of court settlement for damages. Seeing the chance for revenge, she uses her windfall to set up her own grocery store, directly opposite that of the Grice emporium. By undercutting on prices and offering customer perks, she soon succeeds in poaching nearly all of their business and starts to accumulate a tidy sum in profits. Her ambition however stretches beyond a grocery store and its relatively modest financial potential. She is intrigued to meet a handsome stranger Charles Mortimer (Rennie), who tells her that there are large deposits of oil on the edge of town and he is looking for a financial backer to help him exploit them.
Jeckie agrees to throw her lot in with Charles to get their hands on the land under which the oil can be drilled. It belongs to an elderly man Scholes (Moore Marriott), who is of the opinion that it is a stony, barren and useless plot, and is happy to sell for what seems on the surface a generous price. The oil operation quickly proves to have huge financial potential, and soon becomes a sizeable industry raking in vast profits. Now a wealthy woman, Jeckie buys the grandest house in the area and lives a life of luxury. She has fallen in love with Charles, but when she learns that he has misled her and is in fact married, she orders him to leave and says he will get no more share of the profits.
Meanwhile, Scholes' resentment at being swindled had been simmering in the background, and finally explodes when he decides to set fire to the refinery to exact his revenge. The whole operation is destroyed in a spectacular blaze. Faced with losing everything, Jeckie finally starts to analyse her own ruthlessness and avarice. She realises that she has made many enemies and has few real friends. But the faithful Joe has never criticised or judged her, and she finally sees that he was the man for her all along. 
J.S. Fletcher's novel was originally published in 1921.
It was the first English movie for Australian actor John McCallum. He tested for a small part but was given the second male lead instead.   Hazel Court, Diana Drecker and Patricia Hicks also made early appearances. 
The film was initiated by Maurice Ostrer who put McCallum under personal contract. During filming, Ostrer left Gainsborough. 
Filming started in February 1946. The film was one of a number of expensive dramas financed by J. Arthur Rank with budgets over $1 million. Others included Hungry Hill , Daybreak , Odd Man Out , and Green for Danger . 
The Irish Times called it "a slightly turgid film of the kind of book one reads only during a long convalescence." 
Michael Rennie was a British film, television and stage actor, who had leading roles in a number of Hollywood films, including his portrayal of the space visitor Klaatu in the science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). In a career spanning more than 30 years, Rennie appeared in more than 50 films and in several American television series.
The Wicked Lady is a 1945 British costume drama film directed by Leslie Arliss and starring Margaret Lockwood in the title role as a nobleman's wife who becomes a highwayman for the excitement. The film had one of the top audiences for a film of its period, 18.4 million.
Phyllis Hannah Murray-Hill, known professionally as Phyllis Calvert, was an English film, stage and television actress. She was one of the leading stars of the Gainsborough melodramas of the 1940s such as The Man in Grey (1943) and was one of the most popular movie stars in Britain in the 1940s. She continued her acting career for another 50 years.
John Neil McCallum, was an Australian theatre and film actor, highly successful in the United Kingdom. He was also a television producer.
Jean Kent was an English film and television actress.
The Man in Grey is a 1943 British film melodrama made by Gainsborough Pictures; it is considered to be the first of a series of period costume dramas now known as the "Gainsborough melodramas". It was directed by Leslie Arliss and produced by Edward Black from a screenplay by Arliss and Margaret Kennedy that was adapted by Doreen Montgomery from the 1941 novel The Man in Grey by Eleanor Smith. The film's sets were designed by Walter Murton.
Leslie Arliss was an English screenwriter and director. He is best known for his work on the Gainsborough melodramas directing films such as The Man in Grey and The Wicked Lady during the 1940s.
Edward Black was a British film producer, best known for being head of production at Gainsborough Studios in the late 1930s and early 1940s, during which time he oversaw production of the Gainsborough melodramas. He also produced such classic films as The Lady Vanishes (1938). Black has been called "one of the unsung heroes of the British film industry." In 1946 Mason called Black "the one good production executive" that J. Arthur Rank had. Frank Launder called Black "a great showman and yet he had a great feeling for scripts and spent more time on them than anyone I have ever known. His experimental films used to come off as successful as his others."
Patricia Roc was an English film actress, popular in the Gainsborough melodramas such as Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945) and The Wicked Lady (1945), though she only made one film in Hollywood, Canyon Passage (1946). She also appeared in Millions Like Us (1943), Jassy (1945), The Brothers (1947) and When the Bough Breaks (1947).
Jassy is a 1947 British colour film historical melodrama set in the early 19th century, based on a novel by Norah Lofts. It is a Gainsborough melodrama, the only one to be made in Technicolor. It was the last "official" Gainsborough melodrama.
Caravan is a 1946 British black-and-white drama film directed by Arthur Crabtree. It was one of the Gainsborough melodramas and is based on the 1942 novel Caravan by Eleanor Smith.
The Gainsborough melodramas were a sequence of films produced by the British film studio Gainsborough Pictures between 1943 and 1947 which conformed to a melodramatic style. The melodramas were not a film series but an unrelated sequence of films which had similar themes that were usually developed by the same film crew and frequently recurring actors who played similar characters in each. They were mostly based on popular books by female novelists and they encompassed costume, such as The Man in Grey (1943) and The Wicked Lady (1945) and modern-dress, such as Love Story (1944) and They Were Sisters (1945) settings. The popularity of the films with audiences peaked mid-1940s when most of the cinema audiences consisted of mainly women. The influence of the films led to other British producers releasing similarly themed works, such as The Seventh Veil (1945), Pink String and Sealing Wax (1945), Hungry Hill (1947), The White Unicorn (1947), Idol of Paris (1948), and The Reluctant Widow (1950) and often with the talent that made Gainsborough melodramas successful.
Idol of Paris is a 1948 film based on the novel Paiva, Queen of Love by Alfred Schirokauer, about a mid-19th century French courtesan Theresa who sleeps her way from poverty to the top of Second Empire society. It was an attempt by its makers to imitate the success of the Gainsborough melodramas.
Broken Journey is a 1948 British drama film directed by Ken Annakin and featuring Phyllis Calvert, James Donald, Margot Grahame, Raymond Huntley and Guy Rolfe. Broken Journey deals with people struggling to survive after their airliner crashes on top of a mountain, and is based on a true-life accident in the Swiss Alps.
The Magic Bow is a 1946 British musical film based on the life and loves of the Italian violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini. It was directed by Bernard Knowles. The film was entered into the 1946 Cannes Film Festival.
Harold Huth was a British actor, film director and producer.
The Calendar is a black and white 1948 British drama film directed by Arthur Crabtree and starring Greta Gynt, John McCallum, Raymond Lovell and Leslie Dwyer. It is based on the 1929 play The Calendar and subsequent novel by Edgar Wallace. A previous version had been released in 1931.
They Were Sisters is a 1945 British melodrama film directed by Arthur Crabtree for Gainsborough Pictures and starring James Mason and Phyllis Calvert. The film was produced by Harold Huth, with cinematography from Jack Cox and screenplay by Roland Pertwee. They Were Sisters is noted for its frank, unsparing depiction of marital abuse at a time when the subject was rarely discussed openly. It was one of the Gainsborough melodramas.
Time Out of Mind is a 1947 American film noir drama film directed by Robert Siodmak and starring Phyllis Calvert, Robert Hutton and Ella Raines. The film was made by Universal Pictures on a large budget of $1,674,500, but the film was not a commercial success. The British actress Calvert was a major star in Britain and other countries for her roles in the Gainsborough Melodramas.
Maurice Ostrer (1896–1975) was a British film executive. He was best known for overseeing the Gainsborough melodramas. He was head of production at Gainsborough Studios from 1943–46. He resigned from the studio in 1946 after a disagreement with J. Arthur Rank who had taken over the studio.