Operation Diplomat (1953)

UK / 68 minutes / bw / Nettlefold, Butcher’s Dir: John Guillermin Pr: Ernest G. Roy Scr: A.R. Rawlinson, John Guillermin Story: Operation Diplomat (1952 TV series) by Francis Durbridge Cine: Gerald Gibbs Cast: Guy Rolfe, Lisa Daniely, Patricia Dainton, Sydney Tafler, Ballard Berkeley, Anton Diffring, Michael Golden, James Raglan, Avice Landone, Brian Worth, Eric Berry, Edward Dain, Alexis Chesnakov, Ann Bennett, Jean Hardwicke, William Franklyn, Desmond Llewelyn, Derek Aylward.

Operation Diplomat - 0 opener

Mark Fenton (Rolfe), a surgeon at St. Matthew’s Hospital in London, is strolling along the Thames one evening when a nurse (uncredited; possibly Jean Hardwicke) leaps out of an ambulance to tell him to come quickly: there’s an urgent case he must attend to. Implausibly—but this is a Francis Durbridge tale—he agrees to climb into the back of the ambulance with her, finding not a patient but a sinister, gun-toting man called Wade (Tafler). Wade tells him they must drive a distance to where the patient is, but declines to yield up any more information.

Operation Diplomat - 1a Fenton is walking by the Thames when . . .

Fenton (Guy Rolfe) is walking by the Thames when . . .

Operation Diplomat - 1b. . . a pretty nurse leaps from an ambulance and urges him to come with her

. . . a pretty nurse (uncredited; possibly Jean Hardwicke) leaps from an ambulance and urges him to come with her.

Hours later they arrive at a mansion. Aided by a doctor who’s been struck off the Medical Register, Edward Schröder (Diffring), by the nurse we’ve already met and by a nurse with swoony eyes, Fenton operates on the man, whom we’ll discover before too long is missing diplomat Sir Oliver Peters (Raglan), Chairman of Western Defence. Afterwards, Wade gives Fenton a tumbler of Scotch, which he Continue reading

Seven Thunders (1957)

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A serial killer in German-occupied Marseilles!
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vt The Beasts of Marseilles
UK / 96 minutes / bw / Dial, Rank Dir: Hugo Fregonese Pr: Daniel M. Angel Scr: John Baines Story: Seven Thunders (1955) by Rupert Croft-Cooke Cine: John Wilkie Cooper Cast: Stephen Boyd, James Robertson Justice, Kathleen Harrison, Tony Wright, Anna Gaylor, Eugene Deckers, Rosalie Crutchley, Katherine Kath, James Kenney, Anton Diffring, Denis Shaw, George Coulouris, Marcel Pagliero, Gaylord Cavallaro, Leonard Sachs, Martin Miller, Carl Duering, June Cowell, Andreas Malandrinos, Edric Connor, Peter Augustine.

I don’t usually post on a Monday, but today is, according to Aurora and others, National Classic Movie Day (twitterpatable at #NationalClassicMovieDay). So, ever one to leap aboard a passing bandwagon, I bring you this . . .

Seven Thunders - 0 opener

In the book of Revelation, Chapter Ten, there’s reference to seven thunders that “utter their voices”; the title of this movie, then—or more accurately the title of its source novel—refers to matters apocalyptic, and sure enough there’s a small-scale apocalypse served up toward the end when the Germans move in to raze the Old Quarter/Old Port region of Marseilles.

It’s 1943 and the trawlerman Salvatore (Pagliero), a Jean Gabin type with a crusty exterior but a heart of gold, brings to the Old Port slum of Marseilles two escaped British prisoners of war, Dave (Boyd) and Jim (Wright), so they can hide out until a passage can be arranged for them to England.

Seven Thunders - 1 The fisherman Salvatore is a stalwart of the Resistance

The fisherman Salvatore (Marcel Pagliero) is a stalwart of the Resistance.

Very soon they encounter, in the apartment block where they’re hiding, Lise (Gaylor), an orphaned young woman who’s using her wits, among other things, to survive the Nazi Occupation. The first encounters aren’t promising: Dave accidentally Continue reading

Highly Dangerous (1950)

UK / 89 minutes / bw / Two Cities, GFD, Rank Dir: Roy Ward Baker Pr: Antony Darnborough Scr: Eric Ambler Cine: Reginald Wyer Cast: Margaret Lockwood, Dane Clark, Bill Casey, Marius Goring, Naunton Wayne, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Eugene Deckers, Olaf Pooley, Gladys Henson, Paul Hardtmuth, Michael Hordern, Eric Pohlmann, Joan Haythorne, Anton Diffring, Anthony Newley, Ewen Solon, Michael Rittermann, Lance Secretan.

Highly Dangerous - closer

Entomologist Frances Gray (Lockwood) is asked by her boss Rawlins (Hordern) and Mr. Hedgerley (Wayne) from the Secretariat of the Imperial General Staff if she could go to an obscure Iron Curtain country to investigate the possibility that a scientist called Kassen has succeeded in breeding insecticide-resistant fruitflies that could be used as vectors for germ warfare against the West.

Highly Dangerous - 1 Mr Hedgerley recruits

Mr Hedgerley (Naunton Wayne), Frances’s recruiter.

She refuses point-blank: she’s just about to go on her hols to Torquay. Hedgerley hitches a lift from her to the station, and en route she plays the night episode of the radio serial Frank Conway, Secret Agent. It is her duty to do so nightly, so that she can tell the story to Continue reading

Question of Adultery, A (1958)

vt The Case of Mrs. Loring
UK / 86 minutes / bw / Flamingo, Raystro, Eros Dir: Don Chaffey Pr: Raymond Stross Scr: Anne Edwards, Denis Freeman Story: A Breach of Marriage (1948 play) by Dan Sutherland Cine: Stephen Dade Cast: Julie London, Anthony Steel, Donald Houston, Anton Diffring, Andrew Cruickshank, Frank Thring, Conrad Phillips, Kynaston Reeves, Arthur Gomez, Georgina Cookson, Richard Caldicot, John Rae, Mary Mackenzie, John Fabian, Rodney Burke, Philip Holles, Michael Logan, Sam Kydd, John Charlesworth, Max Brimmel, Van Boolen.

Question of Adultery - 1 Mary in Court

Mary (Julie London) in court.

A courtroom drama adapted from a play, with a long flashback as its centerpiece giving the backstory that has led the protagonists to the court.

UK racing car driver Mark Loring (Steel), plagued by anger-management issues and general juvenility, is obsessively jealous of his US wife Mary (London), who gave up her successful singing career to be his bride. She is cordially loathed by Mark’s tycoon father, Sir John Loring (Sydney), in large part because Sir John’s wife, who walked out not long after Mark was born, was likewise a US chanteuse, and in perhaps even larger part because Sir John wants to possess his son entirely; as Mary tells the old man early on:

Mark? Your property, that’s all Mark is to you. Just a piece of property, like your ships or your factories. And you try to buy him from me like a piece of real estate. Well, I’m not selling. You haven’t got enough love to buy him with.

At the Iberian Grand Prix, which Mark wins, he’s incensed when one of the mechanics, Mario Fiorenzo (a hopelessly miscast Phillips), takes a very obvious shine to her. That evening at the hotel, Mario engineers a casual meeting in the bar with her; she cleverly defuses the situation when Mark turns up. But it’s not so easy when Continue reading

Mark of the Phoenix (1958)

UK / 62 minutes / bw / Butcher’s Dir: Maclean Rogers Pr: W.G. Chalmers Scr: Norman Hudis Story: The Phoenix Sings (1955) by Desmond Cory Cine: Geoffrey Faithfull Cast: Julia Arnall, Sheldon Lawrence, Anton Diffring, Eric Pohlmann, George Margo, Michael Peake, Martin Miller, Bernard Rebel, Roger Delgado, Frederick Schreicker.

In Belgium, the scientist Van de Velde (Schreicker) has developed a marvelous alloy that is impervious to nuclear radiation. His lab is invaded by the crooks Emilson (Margo), Koos (Peake) and Fyodor Vachek (Rebel); Koos shoots Van de Velde dead and the trio escape with a small container of the alloy in liquid form. They take the alloy to the Brussels jeweler Brunet (Miller) and demand that he “turn the alloy into metal”—a puzzling request, since the alloy obviously already is metal; they appear to be asking him to transform it from liquid to solid. (Since the alloy is elsewhere described as “atomic” we sense that science was not scripter Hudis’s strong point.) That solid should take the form of a cigarette case in a design that Brunet has been making for sale in his shop. The process complete, they ask him to electroplate the case in silver. The scheme, we’re soon told, is smuggle this sample of the alloy behind the Iron Curtain, where a government customer is prepared to pay $1 million for it.

Meanwhile there arrives in Brussels the international jewel thief Chuck Martin (Lawrence). He calls with the proceeds of his latest heist on his old fence, who just happens to be the jeweler Brunet. Vachek, who clearly has an agenda of his own, engineers the transfer of his own suite at the Plaza Hotel to Chuck, then places the cigarette case inside it. (It’s not 100% clear why he does this, but it serves to get Chuck involved in the plot.)

Chuck calls on shady gem collector Maurice Duser (Pohlmann) with a necklace that he held back from the consignment he gave to Brunet. Duser buys this as a gift for his fiancée, Petra Charrier (Arnall). During the transaction, Duser sees and recognizes the cigarette case Chuck is using; he sends Emilson to Chuck’s hotel room to steal it, but Chuck wins the ensuing punchup . . .

Schell (Anton Diffring) takes Petra (Julia Arnall) into his confidence.

And so this meanders amiably along. Brunet is knocked off by Koos when Duser fears the old man knows too much. Trying to find out why the cigarette case is such a hot property, Chuck manages with ease to break into Brunet’s shop (apparently there’s no alarm system) and Duser’s safe (apparently there’s again no alarm system). Later Koos—a sort of walking lesson in why stupid people shouldn’t be given guns—shoots dead Vachek before Duser and Emilson have learned the information they’ve been trying to torture out of him. Petra dumps Duser with an excellent line—”If I ever want a second-hand ring and you want a second-hand girl, let’s get together”—and her interests are clearly drifting toward Chuck instead. The able Belgian policeman Inspector Schell (Diffring) is hot in pursuit of the bad guys, assisted by police scientist Gavron (Delgado), who speaks the kind of language that B-movie boffins speak: “It is a certainty that Van de Velde had discovered a metal completely unaffected by radioactivity!”

The moronic, trigger-happy Koos (Michael Peake) kills Vachek (Bernard Rebel) just to show he can.

In addition to the scientific puzzlers, there are various other places where you sense that, if Continue reading