This tale of treachery put both the Gainsborough melodrama and actor James Mason on the map. The star-to-be plays Lord Rohan, a cruel nobleman who marries the naive and sweet-natured Clarissa (Phyllis Calvert) for the sole purpose of producing an heir; meanwhile, Clarissa’s conniving best friend, Hesther (Margaret Lockwood), plots against her for her own nefarious ends. The Man in Grey, directed by Leslie Arliss, was such a box-office success that Gainsborough used it as a template, launching a cycle of increasingly rococo films.

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