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The Card (1952 film)

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Genre  Comedy
Country  United Kingdom
7.2/10 IMDb

Director  Ronald Neame
Music director  William Alwyn
Language  English
The Card (1952 film) movie poster
Writer  Arnold Bennett, Eric Ambler
Release date  1952 (1952)
Screenplay  Arnold Bennett, Eric Ambler
Cast  Alec Guinness (Edward Henry 'Denry' Machin), Glynis Johns (Ruth Earp), Valerie Hobson (Countess of Chell), Petula Clark (Nellie Cotterill), Edward Chapman (Mr. Duncalf), Veronica Turleigh (Mrs. Machin)
Similar movies  Solitary Man, Cocktail, The Astronaut Farmer, Ray, From Prada to Nada, Boogie Nights
Tagline  He's the cheekiest man in town!

The Card is a black-and-white film version of the novel by Arnold Bennett. Entitled The Promoter for its American audience, it was adapted by Eric Ambler and directed by Ronald Neame. It was released in 1952. It starred Alec Guinness as Denry Machin, Petula Clark as Nellie Cotterill, Valerie Hobson as the Countess, and Glynis Johns as Ruth Earp. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Sound.


The Card (1952 film) movie scenes

It is mainly faithful to the novel, omitting some minor incidents.

The Card (1952 film) wwwgstaticcomtvthumbmovieposters4272p4272p

The card 1952 7 of 9


The Card (1952 film) The Card

The film follows the adventures and misadventures of Edward Henry (Denry) Machin, an ambitious young man from a poor background.

The Card (1952 film) The Card 1952 film Alec Guinness YouTube

Denry cheats at an examination in order to qualify for entry to a 'school for the sons of gentlemen'. At the age of 16, he becomes a junior clerk to Mr. Duncalf, the town clerk and a solicitor. He meets the charming and socially well-connected Countess of Chell, a client of Duncalf's, and is given the job of sending out invitations to a grand municipal ball. He 'invites' himself, and wins a five-pound bet that he will dance with the Countess. This earns him the reputation of a "card" (a "character", someone able to set tongues wagging) – a reputation he is determined to cement. But the next day, Duncalf angrily sacks Denry.

The Card (1952 film) The Card 1952 Cast Crew The Movie Database TMDb

Denry offers his services as a rent collector to a dissatisfied former client of Duncalf's, Mrs Codleyn. His reputation as an efficient and no-nonsense collector brings the business of Mr Calvert. But Denry quickly realises that he can make more money by advancing loans, at a highly profitable interest rate, to the many tenants who are in arrears. He also discovers that Ruth Earp, the dancing teacher who is attracted to Denry, is herself heavily in debt. Despite this, he and Ruth become engaged.

The Card (1952 film) The Card

While on holiday in Llandudno with Ruth and her friend Nellie Cotterill (as chaperone), he witnesses a shipwreck and the rescue of the sailors—an event that he turns to his financial advantage. He also realises Ruth's spendthrift nature, and they part on bitter terms.

Denry starts up the Five Towns Universal Thrift Club, a bold venture that allows members to purchase goods on credit. This increases Denry's wealth and reputation, and he is able to expand further, thanks to the patronage of the Countess.

Denry's social ambitions expand. He becomes a town councillor, and he purchases the rights to locally born Callear, the "greatest centre forward in England", for the failing local football club.

Ruth reappears, now the widow of a rich, older, titled man. He considers renewing their relationship but is unsure of his (and her) feelings.

Nellie's father, a builder, is bankrupt (again), and the family decide to migrate to Canada, with Denry's assistance. As they are boarding the ocean liner at Liverpool, Denry realises that Nellie is devastated at her potential loss and that he really loves only her. Ruth, who is also present, is furious, but quickly starts a fresh relationship with another older titled gentleman.

Nellie and Denry marry. Denry becomes the youngest mayor in the history of Bursley.


  • Alec Guinness as Denry Machin
  • Valerie Hobson as Countess of Chell
  • Petula Clark as Nellie Cotterill
  • Glynis Johns as Ruth Earp
  • Edward Chapman as Herbert Duncalf
  • Veronica Turleigh as Mrs Machin
  • Joan Hickson as Mrs Codleyn
  • George Devine as Herbert Calvert
  • Wilfrid Hyde-White as Lord at Liverpool dock (uncredited)
  • For Guinness, playing the romantic lead was a departure from his previously comic roles. The film was one of the first adult screen roles for Clark, who received her first screen kiss.


    The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther gave the film a mixed review, writing "the script Eric Ambler has adapted from Arnold Bennett's old novel, 'The Card,' is provokingly uninfested with dramatic compulsion or push. It just ambles along very gently from one situation to the next ... 'The Promoter,' while vastly amusing in spots, is not a first-rate Guinness show."


    It was largely filmed in Burslem in Stoke-on-Trent, the basis for the fictional location of Bursley, and in Llandudno, North Wales.


    Clark recorded a vocal version of the film's theme, with lyrics by her long-term accompanist, Joe "Mr Piano" Henderson.


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