This Gainsborough Pictures production directed by Anthony Asquith features James Mason in one of his early supporting roles. Here Mason looks heavier than he would in his later Hollywood period, with unruly hair, no neck and a bullfrog face. His role prefigures his Norman Maine of A Star is Born, as a beastly sensual toff who enjoys slumming with the lower classes, and who periodically crosses Fanny. It’s a pity these crossings are so periodic because Mason is easily the highlight of the film. He brings some energy and a sour taste to the otherwise staid proceedings. Based on the novel by Michael Sadleir, the narrative is meant as an expose of the prejudices of class distinction and parentage of England in the late 1800’s. Fanny begins life at a reasonably respectable station in life, but the discovery that her father secretly operates a meeting place for gentlemen and "actresses" ie a brothel, begins Fanny’s degenerative social spiral. Fanny’s moral purity is demonstrated by her willingness to stoop to servile work, (her fainting when she works in a steamy laundryhouse at her lowest ebb is proof of her sensitivity), and allows for the wealthier characters to look down upon her and thereby reveal their own bigotry. Asquith presents the pleasures of the lower classes without the same judgement, even if we find the belief that those who make these distinctions having a short life span is a liberal social fantasy.... There is an unnoticed irony in Fanny’s situation, since she assumes another name to escape the condemnation associated with hers, yet the original name is one she is not entitled to. However acknowledging this would deprive us of her fall and also end the story prematurely, though considering how Asquith makes it lag, that isn’t altogether a bad idea. As Fanny, Phyllis Calvert has a scene of physical anguish that rivals Lillian Gish in the silents - but overall she's about as generic as Stewart Granger is as her love interest. Margaretta Scott is fun as a woman Fanny works for, and Cathleen Nesbitt as Granger’s disapproving sister has a marvellous scowl. Asquith gives Mason an amusing entrance, with women turning their faces away from him, and a fistfight is entertaining in it’s ridiculousness. There is the shocking period detail of women in a corralled space in a restaurant, waiting to be rescued by a gentleman to be "made love to", and an editing cut from Calvert screaming to a trial testimony.