The Face of Fear (1971 TVM)

US / 74 minutes / color / QM, CBS Dir: George McCowan Pr: Adrian Samish, Arthur Fellows Scr: Edward Hume Story: Sally (1967) by E.V. Cunningham Cine: Ben Colman Cast: Ricardo Montalban, Jack Warden, Elizabeth Ashley, Dane Clark, Roy Poole, Charles Dierkop, Burr DeBenning, Regis Cordic, Fred Sadoff, Brooke Mills, Dallas Mitchell, Shirley O’Hara, Joel Lawrence, John Yates.

Elizabeth Ashley as Sally.

Based on a novel by Howard Fast (under his E.V. Cunningham pseudonym), this is a riff on a theme that I traced in my Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir back to a German movie called Der MANN, DER SEINEN MÖRDER SUCHT (1931; vt The Man who Searched for his Own Murder; vt Jim, der Mann mit der Narbe; vt Jim, the Man with the Scar). The premise is that someone, rather than commit suicide, hires a hitman to do away with them—usually for insurance reasons—and then discovers a reason why life is worth living after all. But then the hitman proves impossible to find. Somewhere, out there, he lurks, ready to strike at any moment . . .

Other movies I found that used the premise were Continue reading

Into the Night (1955 TVM)

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Jacques Tourneur directs a taut little noirish thriller!
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US / 26 minutes / bw / Revue, MCA, CBS Dir: Jacques Tourneur Pr: Leon Gordon Scr: Mel Dinelli Story: Charles Hoffman Cine: Ellsworth Fredricks (i.e., Ellsworth Fredericks) Cast: Eddie Albert, Ruth Roman, Dane Clark, Robert Armstrong, Jeanne Bates, Wallis Clark, Bill Fawcett, Nora Marlowe, Larry Blake, Bob Bice, Jerry Mathers.

An episode of the CBS drama series General Electric Theater (season 3, episode 32, for the benefit of completists), this Jacques Tourneur-directed outing manages to pack all the plot, characterization and suspense of an upper-drawer B-feature into half or less of the typical running time.

Helen Mattson (Roman) and husband Paul (Albert) are going away for a weekend’s vacation in Palm Springs, leaving 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