Candles at Nine

1944 film by John Harlow

Candles at Nine

Opening title

Directed by

John Harlow

Screenplay by

Basil Mason
John Harlow

Based on

novel The Mouse Who Wouldn\'t Play Ball by Anthony Gilbert

Produced by

Wallace Orton


Jessie Matthews
John Stuart
Beatrix Lehmann


James Wilson

Edited by

Vi Burdon (uncredited)

Music by

score composed & directed by:
Charles Williams


British National Films

Distributed by

Anglo-American Film Corporation (UK)

Release date

1944 (1944)

Running time

82 minutes


United Kingdom



Candles at Nine is a 1944 British mystery film directed by John Harlow and starring Jessie Matthews, John Stuart and Beatrix Lehmann.
A wealthy man taunts his relations and staff about which of them shall inherit his estate after he changes his Will; the same night, he falls down the stairs. His money is left to a distant female relative; a target for intrigue, from some, and murder, from another. It is based on the 1943 novel The Mouse Who Wouldn\'t Play Ball by Anthony Gilbert.


After the mysterious death of wealthy old Everard Hope (Eliot Makeham), his avaricious relatives are little pleased to discover that his estate has been left to distant relation Dorothea Capper (Jessie Matthews), a young showgirl. The one condition of the will is that she must stay in Hope\'s spooky mansion for a month. After several attempts on Dorothea\'s life, detective William Gardener (John Stuart) decides to investigate.


Eliot Makeham as Everard Hope
Beatrix Lehmann as Julia Carberry, Everard\'s Housekeeper
John Salew as Griggs, Everard\'s Butler
Joss Ambler as Garth Hope
Vera Bogetti as Lucille Hope, Garth\'s Wife
Andre Van Gyseghem as Cecil Tempest
Winifred Shotter as Brenda Tempest, Cecil\'s Wife
Reginald Purdell as Charles Lacey
Hugh Dempster as Hugh Lacey
Jessie Matthews as Dorothea Capper the Heiress
John Stuart as William Gardener, Turf Commission
Ernest Butcher as Everard\'s Gardener
C. Denier Warren as Middleton the Executor
Patricia Hayes as Gewndolyn the Maid

Critical reception

TV Guide dismissed the film as a \"Tedious mystery\"; while Allmovie wrote, \"the creaky pacing by director John Harlow makes the first half of the movie seem more soporific than atmospheric...the movie finally takes off when Matthews shows up on screen, and the visuals, the editing, the music, and the pacing all come to life. The problem there is that she looks a little long-of-tooth for the role she\'s playing, in terms of the element of wide-eyed wonder that she must display at her sudden good fortune -- at 37, even with lots of energy and great makeup, she looks awkward doing a role that would have been better suited to her in 1934. Beatrix Lehmann\'s portrayal of the housekeeper whose services she inherits comes from the Judith Anderson school of performing...and her creepy portrayal is one of the best things in the movie. There are also a couple of charming (and brief) musical sequences, one of them breaking the tension at just the right moment as the thriller\'s plot winds tighter. The whole thing doesn\'t hang together seamlessly, but it\'s an enjoyable diversion, if one hangs in past the first 18 minutes\' tedium.\"


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