South Riding

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Drama/Romance, UK, 1938, 85 min.

Synopsis Yorkshire alderman Snaith is an unscrupulous land developer who uses the reforming ways of fellow councilman Astell for his own profit. Astell seeks, with Snaith's assistance, to abolish the slums of Yorkshire with new housing. In those slums lives the Holly family. Mr. Holly, long unemployed, finally gets a job with Snaith's construction firm, working with Alfred Huggins, his foreman and the local preacher. Just as they finish some new pavement, it is ruined by the local hunting club, lead by Robert Carne, the squire of Maythrope. Carne is the victim of a marriage that has been destroyed by his wife's insanity. He hopes to send his nervous daughter Midge to a fashionable private school, but his wife's hospital bills have become too much for his income. Carne decides to sell his favorite hunting horse to fund Midge's education, but the construction sounds lead the horse to bolt, then break its leg. At a council meeting, Sarah Barton is hired as the new headmistress for the Kiplington High School. The council is unanimous in its choice of Sarah, except for Carne, whose horse was frightened by her car the day before. Carne is forced to send Midge to Kiplington, where she quickly becomes Sarah's favorite student. Meanwhile, Huggins is blackmailed by Bessie Warbuckle, who has borne him an illegitimate child. Huggins gets the blackmail money from Snaith, who then uses Huggins as a blind purchaser to buy the property for Astell's new housing project. Late at night, Sarah helps Carne deliver a calf. He invites her back to Maythrope for dinner, and the two quickly fall in love. Carne tells her, however, that their love is impossible, as he must be faithful to his wife, no matter what her condition. Bessie marries, but continues to blackmail Huggins. Sarah then learns of Huggins' plight and his association with Snaith in the land purchases. She rushes to Maythrope to tell Carne, but he is not there, because he has decided to commit suicide. Sarah finds him in the nearby woods, and stops him just as he is about to kill himself. The two rush back to the council meeting, where Carne forces Huggins to confess everything. With Snaith's crooked scheme exposed, Carne offers to turn Maythrope into the new high school. He then learns that his wife has died in the mental hospital, finally freeing him to find true happiness in marriage to Sarah.

Directed by Victor Saville  

Starring Edna Best, Ralph Richardson, Edmund Gwenn, Ann Todd, Marie Lohr, more...

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