The Queen of Spades (1949) is a fantasy–horror film directed by Thorold Dickinson based on a short story of the same name by Alexander Pushkin. It stars Anton Walbrook, Edith Evans and Yvonne Mitchell. Although Evans and Mitchell were both experienced stage actors this was their cinematic debut. It was produced by Ealing Studios.
An elderly countess strikes a bargain with the devil and exchanges her soul for the ability to always win at cards. An army officer, who is also a fanatic about cards, murders her for the secret, then finds himself haunted by the woman’s spirit.
Wes Anderson ranked it as the sixth best British film.
“Although the film’s look is striking, mention must also be made of the innovative use of sound to ramp up the tension once the hauntings begin. Dickinson and his technical team cleverly marry up the age-old device of things that go bump in the night with a wall of sound created, in part, by a reversed recording of a jet engine taking off and news recordings of bomb blasts during the Blitz. Deliciously dark and still able to make audiences jump 60 years after it was created, this is a black-and-white gem that truly deserves to be hailed as a ‘lost classic’.” Amber Wilkinson Eye For Film.
“This is a tale for the ages whose essential message remains a pertinent warning for us all. All filmmaking elements work to create a fantastical Russia of snow swept landscapes, gothic bedrooms and bawdy gypsy taverns. The ghostly visitations are almost an afterthought, with a plot that is also of secondary importance that only half heartedly offers us the stock characters and situations of commercial filmmaking. This is a genuine example of British art cinema, over a decade before the coalition of Free Cinema and the kitchen sink misery of the ‘British New Wave’.” Shaun Anderson, The Celluloid Highway