|Dark beauty, Margaret Lockwood|
Her luscious dark hair and dramatic, smoldering looks made her the perfect romantic foil for the type of steamy potboilers and period romances that were popular in the 1940s.
After training at RADA and some stage work, Lockwood's first significant foray into screen acting was in 1935, playing a supporting role in Basil Dean's, Lorna Doone, alongside John Loder and Victoria Hopper. However it was her appearance with Micheal Redgrave in the title role of Alfred Hitchcock's The lady Vanishes, four years later, that propelled her to British stardom. The film was a big success, not just for Lockwood, as it also provided Hitchcock with the necessary impetus to make the move to Hollywood.
As the 1940s dawned so too did Margaret Lockwood's association with Gainsborough Pictures, a company which specialised in 'morally ambivalent' costume dramas. It was a lucrative connection that would see her image shift from demure and sultry romantic heroine to professional femme fatale and a succession of roles in which she played the beautiful but lethal villainous heartbreaker followed. Her role as poison-lipped, ruthless seductress Esther in the first of the Gainsborough Pictures melodramas, The Man in Grey (1943) with another Gainsborough star, James Mason, cemented her cache as a box-office draw and highly watchable bitch.
The Wicked Lady
In 1945 Lockwood took on what would become her most iconic role in Gainsborough's The Wicked Lady. At the time of its release, the film was considered risque and a daring role for her to take on, given the lewdly sensational subject matter. Lockwood played a nobleman's wife (she had stolen her best friends fiance) who feels a sense of titillating intoxication by cavorting with a highwayman on the sly. In spite of the controversy, or more likely because of it, the film was a runaway success and one of the biggest box-office grosses of the period. Moreover it skyrocketed Lockwood to *most popular actress in England* status. It seems it occasionally pays to be wicked.
|Gainsborough stars, Margaret Lockwood and the wickedly attractive James Mason enjoying an embrace in The Wicked Lady|
Lockwood's final stage appearance was as Queen Alexandra in Royce Ryton's Motherdear. The actress died at 73 in 1990, from cirroshis of the liver, leaving behind a daughter, Julia, from an earlier marriage to Rupert Leon, as well as an enviable reputation as a memorable, iconic figure of British film and stage.