Daughter of Darkness (1948 film)

Daughter of Darkness is a 1948 British film, with macabre overtones, directed by Lance Comfort and starring Anne Crawford, Maxwell Reed and – in the central role – Siobhán McKenna. Released in January 1948, it was based on a then ten-year-old play by Max Catto called They Walk Alone.[1] An expensive film for its day, it was shot at Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London, and on location.[2][3] McKenna was offered a Hollywood contract following her memorable performance, but heeded the counsel of Laurence Olivier to remain in theatre work.[4]

Daughter of Darkness
Directed byLance Comfort
Produced byVictor Hanbury
Written byMax Catto
Based onplay "They Walk Alone" by Max Catto
StarringAnne Crawford
Maxwell Reed
Siobhán McKenna
Music byClifton Parker
CinematographyStanley Pavey
Edited byLito Carruthers
Victor Hanbury Productions (in association with) (as Kenilworth)
Alliance Productions Ltd.
Distributed byParamount British Pictures (UK)
Release date
23 January 1948 (London) United Kingdom
27 March 1948 (USA)
Running time
91 min
CountryUnited Kingdom


In the small Irish town of Ballyconnen, Emmy Baudine (Siobhán McKenna) is a beautiful but disturbed young woman who works for the local priest. When the carnival comes to town, she encounters Dan (Maxwell Reed), a handsome young boxer – and lays his face open with her fingernails when he attempts to seduce her. Hurriedly packed off to Yorkshire by Father Corcoran (Liam Redmond), Emmy is taken in by a farming family and manages to suppress the strange feelings of fascination and revulsion that she experiences in the presence of the opposite sex. Until, that is, the carnival comes to town and she finds herself face to face with the vengeful Dan.[2]


Critical reception

  • The Radio Times wrote, "an opportunity to see McKenna, one of the most compelling of Irish stage actresses, portraying a maniac with full-blooded commitment." [5]
  • TV Guide noted, "strong stuff for 1948." [6]
  • In his Guide to British Cinema, Geoff Mayer writes, "Daughter of Darkness, with a budget of two hundred thousand pounds and three weeks of location shooting in Cornwall, was not a financial success and represented a setback to Comfort's career, which saw him relegated to low-budget films in the 1950s and 1960s. Yet the film's mixture of gothic and horror establishes it as one of the most startling British films of the 1940s. " [7]


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