The Clairvoyant (1935) *


Interesting and unusual thriller from what would be seen as a golden age of British genre cinema were it not for the disproportionate influence of Hitchcock's thirties masterpieces.

Mixing straight drama, thriller and a twist of the supernatural, it never quite wanders into horror film territory but is often most effectively eerie, with a fascinatingly cocky performance from Claude Rains, back from Hollywood to remind the little people how it's done, and a more delicate turn from Fay Wray, as a phony stage mesmerism act whose lives are destructively transformed in various ways when he discovers he can genuinely predict the future. Romantic strife is added to their troubles when he realises his powersonly work in the presence of a strange woman who seems to be falling in love with him (Jane Baxter).

The final section, in which he is accused of causing a mining disaster that he had in fact been attempting to avert has a genuinely doomy atmosphere that clearly displays the talents of its unjustly underregarded director and screenwriter. Meanwhile Fay, on a British sabbatical (that resulted in three films of which this was the best, but which sadly had a decisively negative effect on her Hollywood career), is at her most charming, and especially beautiful in her stage costume.