This film is part of Free

The Scarlet Woman

Catholic fantasy starring Elsa Lanchester and Evelyn Waugh in an Andy Warhol fright wig.

Home movie 1924 44 mins Silent


Much of the appeal of this confusing but fascinating amateur film is a gloriously camp performance by its writer, Evelyn Waugh. He plays the Dean of Balliol College, Oxford, and based his performance on the real Dean, 'Sligger' Urquhart. Urquhart, he observed, was Catholic, homosexual, and a snob; an epithet that could as well describe the author himself after his conversion in 1930. Filming took place at Hampstead Heath, Golders Green, and the Waugh family's Hampstead back garden in the summer of 1924.

In the film the Dean is under orders from the Pope and his envoy Cardinal Montefiasco to convert the English monarchy to Roman Catholicism. The Dean holds a sinister influence over the Prince of Wales, but this is counteracted by the attractions of cabaret actress Beatrice de Carolle, played by a sinuous Elsa Lanchester (The Bride of Frankenstein) in her first film role.