The Queen of Spades is a remarkable film made all the more astonishing by the fact that its director Thorold Dickinson began work on it with just five days notice. At this point Dickinson was best known for Gaslight (1940) and he would only make nine films in a career plagued by interference and bad luck. He is perhaps more prominent now for his contributions to the academic study of film. Especially important in a British culture which has been dismissive of film as an art form and dedicated itself to the type of social realism that Dickinson gleefully ignores in this particular film. Instead The Queen of Spades belongs to a sensual and highly melodramatic tradition in British cinema of which the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger belong. The supernatural element of the narrative gives it a weak claim to horror status, but Dickinson astutely avoids the visual iconography of the genre, preferring instead to concentrate on the atmosphere and visual panorama of the piece. When once places the film into its post World War Two British cinema context it emerges as a very distinctive, poetic, and highly artistic effort whose critical and commercial marginalisation was no doubt due to its lack of social impetus.