‘The Forbidden Street’ on TCM

Fiery actress Maureen O’Hara got a homecoming, or something close to it, with The Forbidden Street (1949), a romantic drama of status and sacrifice and blackmail in Victorian England. The Irish actress had been busy in Hollywood since her stateside debut in the 1939 production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, shooting all of her British period pieces on Hollywood sets. But for The Forbidden Street, 20th Century Fox shipped the production over to Fox London to make use of studio funds frozen in Great Britain. It wasn’t quite Ireland but O’Hara was in an unhappy marriage to Will Price, a former Hollywood dialogue director and a drunk, and was glad for the break.

Based on Margery Sharp’s 1946 novel Britannia Mews, The Forbidden Street stars O’Hara as Adelaide Culver, a headstrong woman from an aristocratic London family who defies her mother (Fay Compton) to marry her handsome music tutor, Henry Lambert (Dana Andrews, in a professorial beard). It’s an impulsive act by a nave young woman and she ends up shunned by her family, unhappy and alone in the slums of Britannia Mews until she meets Gilbert Lauderdale, a dead ringer for her Henry (and also played by Andrews) but a far warmer and more loyal fellow. As Henry, Andrews is overdubbed with a distinctive English accent (no credit is given), while his familiar voice returns as the amiable Gilbert. O’Hara, meanwhile, slips from a cultured, educated English accent to cockney as she remains in The Mews (as the locals call it).

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Plays Tuesday, July 1 on TCM

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