Hollywood comes to Dunstable

Filming of Blanche Fury on Dunstable Downs. Dunstable Yesteryear.
Filming of Blanche Fury on Dunstable Downs. Dunstable Yesteryear.

EXCITEMENT on Dunstable Downs in June 1947 when film stars Valerie Hobson and Stewart Granger were there shooting scenes for a movie called Blanche Fury.

This was a costume melodrama with Miss Hobson, fresh from a huge success in David Lean’s Great Expectations, playing the title role of a governess who witnesses a murder.

Blanche Fury on Dunstable Downs

Blanche Fury on Dunstable Downs

One of the dramatic scenes involved the two stars riding on horseback over the Dunstable downsland, and then having a rough encounter with gipsies in a Romany encampment.

A Gazette photographer took these pictures between takes and the negatives have just been traced by Luton Museum’s Chris Grabham among the Gazette’s collection at Wardown Park.

Alas, there’s nothing recognisably Dunstable in the finished film, and the gipsy caravans were probably sited on another location.

The film also starred Walter Fitzgerald and Michael Gough and was produced by Valerie Hobson’s husband Anthony Havelock-Allen.

They divorced in 1952, just before she took the lead role in the first London stage production of the musical The King and I, at Drury Lane.

A notable figure on the Dunstable location was the cinematographer Guy Green, a key figure in numerous classic movies.

> Yesteryear is compiled by John Buckledee, chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society