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Friday, 19 October 2012

Conspirator (1949) - Star of the month... Elizabeth Taylor

"I'm trying to decide if I'm in love with you, or if I'm just obsessed with you" - Elizabeth Taylor (as Melinda in 'Conspirator')

'Conspirator' is a 1949 British thriller directed by Victor Saville and starring Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Taylor (the two Taylors, although they were not related) with Robert Flemyng, Honor Blackman and Wilfred Hyde-White.

Young American Melinda Grayton (played by Elizabeth Taylor) whilst in London, where meets British soldier Major Michael Curragh (played by Robert Taylor). After they are married Melinda discovers Michael has a secret double life; he is a traitor working for the Soviet Union. Michael is then ordered by the KGB to kill Melinda in order to silence her.

Anti-communist propaganda

The film to a degree can be viewed as a warning statement to potential socialists, about the consequences of supporting the Communist party. While most anti-communist films of the 1940s and 1950s are often of a low quality, 'Conspirator' is probably the best I have seen so far. What I think makes this film so powerful is the choice the character of Michael Curragh of forced to make... loyalty to his wife (who he loves) or to the Communist party. As usual the Community party is depicted to be an evil and correct institution, happy to bump off anyone who gets in their way.

Did you know...

  • Robert Taylor was 38 when he made this film, and Elizabeth Taylor was only 17
  • The film was banned in Finland at the time of its release due influence from Russia

Closing remarks

'Conspirator' is an underrated film giving us a fine performance from Robert Taylor as the villain and  Elizabeth Taylor's first film as a young woman. I like the way the opening credits show footage of cars driving over London Bridge. This was an effective way of setting the scene for the film spectator, and reminding us that although we are about to see two of Hollywood's biggest stars, the film is set (and made) in England.

One of Elizabeth Taylor's more obscure films, and sadly often forgotten, 'Conspirator' is an above average b-film worth a watch.

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