Escort for Hire (1960)

UK / 64 minutes / color / Danziger, MGM Dir: Godfrey Grayson Pr: Edward J. Danziger, Harry Lee Danziger Scr: Mark Grantham Cine: Jimmy Wilson Cast: June Thorburn, Pete Murray, Noel Trevarthen, Jan Holden, Peter Butterworth, Guy Middleton, Mary Laura Wood, Patricia Plunkett, Derek Blomfield, Jill Melford, Totti Truman Taylor, Catherine Ellison, Bruce Beeby, C. Denier Warren, Viola Keats.

Escort for Hire - 0 opener

An unusual UK B-feature made by the Danzigers, whose imprimatur had roughly the same guarantee of quality as those of firms like Monogram and PRC in the US. What’s unusual about it is that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. The cartoonish opening credits and the soundtrack suggest it’s going to be some mildly naughty comedy, and that’s what it reads like for the first twenty minutes or so—a sex comedy without the sex, so to speak—but thereafter it rather abruptly becomes darker, albeit no more plausible. It’s held together by good performances from Thorburn, Trevarthen, Blomfield and Butterworth—not to mention a startlingly powerful cameo from Plunkett, making the best of a workaday screenplay—while Continue reading

Clairvoyant, The (1935)

vt The Evil Mind

UK / 81 minutes / bw / Gainsborough, Gaumont, Vogue Dir: Maurice Elvey Scr: Charles Bennett, Bryan Edgar Wallace Story: Der Hellseher (1929; vt The Clairvoyant) by Ernest Lothar (i.e., Ernst Lothar) Cine: G. MacWilliams Cast: Claude Rains, Fay Wray, Mary Clare, Ben Field, Jane Baxter, Athole Stewart, C. Denier Warren, Carleton Hobbs, Felix Aylmer.

Max (Rains) is The Great Maximus, performing a fake telepathy routine around the shabbier music halls with his wife Rene (Wray) as assistant. One night, as Rene loses her way from the stalls to the circle and it becomes obvious to the audience that his “telepathy” relies on her coded messages, his gaze catches the face of Christine Shawn (Baxter) as she watches from one of the boxes; at once he’s empowered with genuine clairvoyance, and correctly describes the letter that a jeering spectator is holding up.

Clairvoyant 1935 - in court

Scary stuff — Claude Rains is the Clairvoyant.

Later, on a train to Manchester for the next gig, Max, Rene, Max’s mother Topsy (Clare) and his congenially boozy business partner Simon (Field) encounter Christine again, and once more Max is filled with the gift of prophecy—this time foreseeing that the train will crash. He pulls the cord, the quintet disembark, and sure enough the train crashes.

Christine, whose father Lord Southwood (Stewart) is the owner of the Daily Sun, ensures that Max’s successful prophecy becomes the talk of the land. Impresario James J. Bimeter (Warren) gets Max top billing at the London Paladrome (sic) for a princely three hundred pounds a week, but Max soon disappoints the theater owner by failing to come out with any new prophecies. Further, Rene is becoming concerned that Max may have fallen for Christine. In fact, it’s Rene whom he loves, but it’s Christine—who eventually admits that she’s deeply in love with him and would take him from Rene if she could—who’s the source of his psychic powers.

His successful offhand prediction that 100–1 rank outsider Autolychus will win the Derby (“Autolychus can’t win. They’re only running him in the hope he’ll Continue reading