Danger Within (1959)

vt Breakout
UK / 96 minutes / bw / Colin Lesslie Productions, British Lion Dir: Don Chaffey Pr: Colin Lesslie Scr: Bryan Forbes, Frank Harvey Story: Death in Captivity (1952; vt The Danger Within) by Michael Gilbert Cine: Arthur Grant Cast: Richard Todd, Bernard Lee, Michael Wilding, Richard Attenborough, Dennis Price, Donald Houston, William Franklyn, Vincent Ball, Peter Arne, Peter Jones, Ronnie Stevens, Terence Alexander, Andrew Faulds, Steve Norbert, Cyril Shaps, Eric Lander, John Dearth, Robert Bruce, Harold Siddons, Ian Whittaker, David Williams, David Graham, Howard Williams, Dino Galvani.

Michael Gilbert was among the great writers of mystery fiction, his most famous novel indubitably being his fourth, Smallbone Deceased (1950), one of those rare books that your correspondent has not only read more than once but makes time to read every few years as a not-so-guilty pleasure.

Most of Gilbert’s novels were set in standard detective-fiction territory. His two main series detectives were Chief Inspector Hazlerigg of the Yard and, later, Patrick Petrella of the Met. Late in life he broke the mold to write some historical detections, but the odd one out during his earlier career was his sixth novel, Death in Captivity (1952; vt The Danger Within), in which he drew upon his own experiences as a prisoner of war in Italy to set a mystery in a POW camp.

The movie adaptation, co-written by Bryan Forbes—best-known as director of such classic movies as site favorite Whistle Down the Wind (1961)[*]—chooses to focus on Continue reading

Noose for a Lady (1952)

UK / 70 minutes / bw / Nat Cohen & Stuart Levy, Insignia, Anglo Amalgamated Dir: Wolf Rilla Pr: Victor Hanbury Scr: Rex Rienits Story: Noose for a Lady (1952) by Gerald Verner, itself based on a BBC radio serial Cine: Walter Harvey Cast: Dennis Price, Rona Anderson, Ronald Howard, Pamela Alan, Melissa Stribling, Charles Lloyd Pack, Alison Leggatt, Esma Cannon, Colin Tapley, Robert Brown, George Merritt, Doris Yorke, Gabrielle Blunt, Joe Linnane, Eric Messiter, Michael Nightingale, Ian Wallace, Donald Bissett.

Noose for a Lady - 0 opener

John Hallam was murdered through being given an overdose of the sleeping drug barbitone (barbital) in his bedtime whisky and milk, and all the circumstantial evidence pointed strongly toward his widow, Margaret Elizabeth “Maggie” Hallam (Alan)—so strongly, in fact, that at the end of her trial she’s found guilty and sentenced to death. Her solicitor (Nightingale) does his best to lodge an appeal, but is turned down. Her only ray of hope seems to be Jill (Anderson), John’s daughter by his first marriage, who promises to labor tirelessly to ensure her stepmother’s exoneration.

Noose for a Lady - 1 Maggie and Jill

Jill (Rona Anderson, right) visits stepmother Maggie (Pamela Alan) in jail.

But then arrives home from Uganda Maggie’s cousin Simon Gale (Price), who Continue reading

Eight Witnesses (1950)

UK, WG / 62 minutes / bw / Bavaria Filmkunst, Princess, Vitapix Dir: Lawerence Huntington (i.e., Lawrence Huntington) Pr: Gene Martel Scr: Halsted Welles Cine: Bruno Stephan Cast: Peggy Ann Garner, Dennis Price, Dr. Charles Jacquemar, Wolfgang Buettner, Christian Dorn, Ernst Fritz Fuerbringer, Gerhard Kittler, Auguste Hansen-Kleinmichel, Heinz Beck.

Brilliant scientist Ernst Hildebrund (Jacquemar) escapes from behind the Iron Curtain into Austria, where he heads for Vienna to make contact with the British Military Intelligence agent who’s been wooing him toward defection, Allan Peters (Price). His escape, as he leaps from a train at a border crossing and is chased through swirling mists by armed guards intent on shooting him down like a dog, is something of a pièce de résistance, especially in the context of a postwar cheapie like this.

After Hildebrund phones Allan from a callbox and is told to wait where he his, the frightened scientist is spooked by a couple of sinister-seeming strangers and instead heads to the library for the blind where his daughter Helen (Garner) is a librarian. Allan, who has been romancing her just in case of such an eventuality, heads there too. Of course, the bad guys have likewise guessed Hildebrund might make contact with his daughter, and have planted one of their number (Buettner) there as a supposedly blind reader. When Hildebrund arrives, terrified by now of everyone, he hides an envelope containing his secret formula in a book on the cart pushed around by library staffer Carl (Dorn), who happens to be an undercover operative working with Allan. The fake blind man kills Hildebrund but, unable to find the document, heads back to his superior (Kittler), who’s operating out of a fully functional bakery.

Eight Witnesses - the 8 witnesses ... plus oneEight witnesses . . . plus one!

Allan arrives—too late!—and investigates, interviewing the eight genuinely blind readers who shared a table with the faker. Of course, being blind, they can’t tell him much, although one of their number Continue reading