Never Too Late To Mend (March, 1937)
Released in March, 1937: A Victorian era tale of an amoral English Squire who takes great pleasure in the destruction of people that get in his way.
Directed by David MacDonald
Written by Charles Reade and H.F. Maltby.
The Actors: Tod Slaughter (Squire John Meadows), Jack Livesey (Tom Robinson), Marjorie Taylor (Susan Merton), Ian Colin (George Fielding), Laurence Hanray (Lawyer Crawley), D.J. Williams (farmer Merton), Roy Russell (Reverend Mr. Eden), John Singer (Matthew Josephs), Cecil Bevan (prison inspector), Douglas Stewart (prison inspector), Mavis Villiers (Betty), Leonard Sharp (prisoner Bradshaw), Jack Vyvian (the innkeeper).
When I was a young boy watching cartoons on the snowy black and white television at home, I remember one about an evil man with a long black moustache that would take a young lady's home away from her because she couldn't pay the mortgage. And it was probably a different cartoon, but I can remember seeing a young lady tied across the railroad tracks as a train was fast approaching. After I grew up a bit, I discovered that there really were 'evil' men that seemed to take pleasure in the misfortune of others, but usually they were colored with a bit of humanity, making them more complex than merely good or evil. But this movie is different . . . . set in Victorian England, we meet one of the most devilishly evil men that motion picture screenwriters of 1937 could imagine.
Actor Tod Slaughter was the perfect person to cast in the part of the evil Squire John Meadows, wealthy land owner somewhere in rural England. I could describe some of his dastardly schemes, but in this case I do not want to blunt their effect by telling you ahead of time what is to come. If you watch this in a place where it is possible, get ready to hiss and boo at the screen, because you do not want to hold in your feelings, it will be therapeutic to let it out and express your contempt for this rogue. I found myself compulsively munching my warm buttered white kernel popcorn without thinking between long, loud hissing at the manipulative Squire. Only a few minutes from the end, I found myself unusually tense as it looked like the evil squire would never be stopped. But have no fear, the writers of this story masterfully with the title line, "It's Never Too Late To Mend, fourteen hundred and sixty one, fourteen hundred and sixty two. . . . "