Release date1948 (1948) WriterCharlotte Armstrong (novel), Louise Birt, David Evans, Nancy Price, Dylan Thomas CinematographyMoray Grant, Ernest Palmer CastNancy Price (Gertrude Morgan-Vaughan), Mary Clare (Maude Morgan-Vaughan), Mary Merrall (Isobel Morgan-Vaughan), Nova Pilbeam (Claire Prentiss), Anthony Hulme (David Davies), Raymond Lovell (Owen Morgan-Vaughan) Similar moviesA Run for Your Money (1949), Under Milk Wood (1972), The Proud Valley (1940), Vicki (1953), Nowhere to Go (1958)
The three weird sisters
The Three Weird Sisters is a 1948 British melodrama with Gothic influences, directed by Daniel Birt and starring Nancy Price, Mary Clare, Mary Merrall, Nova Pilbeam and Raymond Lovell. The screenplay was adapted by Dylan Thomas and Louise Birt from the novel The Case of the Weird Sisters by Charlotte Armstrong. The film was Birt's directorial debut, while marking the last screen appearance of Nova Pilbeam who retired from the acting profession after it was completed.
The elderly Morgan-Vaughan sisters Gertrude (Price), Maude (Clare) and Isobel (Merrall) live in a decaying and claustrophobic mansion in a Welsh mining village. Gertrude is blind, Maude almost deaf and Isobel crippled by arthritis. The local coal mine out of which the family made their fortune is almost worked-out and its tunnels and shafts are dangerously unstable. When a section of the underground workings collapses catastrophically, destroying a row of local cottages and unsettling the foundations of the mansion, the sisters feel honour-bound to finance repairs but have no capital with which to do so.
The sisters' younger half-brother Owen (Lovell), who left the village as a young man to pursue his education and has subsequently become a wealthy businessman in London, is sent for on the assumption that he will agree to underwrite the necessary finances from his own personal funds. Owen and his secretary Claire (Pilbeam) arrive from London, and the sisters are disconcerted to discover that his view on the matter is informed by capitalism rather than altruism, he has no sense of responsibility towards either them or the community and he feels no obligation to throw good money after bad by restoring what he considers outdated.
As the conflict between the sisters' sense of tradition and Owen's modernity grows, strange events start to happen which eventually convince Claire that the sisters are plotting to murder Owen in order to lay hands on his money. She tries to alert members of the local community to her suspicions, but at first is not taken seriously. Gradually however the local doctor (Anthony Hulme) comes round to Claire's point of view and deduces that there is indeed a plot under way, instigated by the dominant Maude to restore things to their former state by the convenient death of Owen.