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

My Death is a Mockery (1952)

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Hanged for a lamb?
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UK / 65 minutes / bw / David Dent, Adelphi Dir: Tony Young Pr: David Dent Scr: Douglas Baber Cine: Phil Grindrod Cast: Donald Houston, Kathleen Byron, Bill Kerr, Edward Leslie, Liam Gaffney, Kenneth Henry, Felix Felton, Sheila McCormack, Christopher Quest, Michael Voysey, Vincent Holman, Meadows White, Christmas Grose.

An extremely neat little movie, obviously made on a very tight budget, that uses its small cast, simple plot and limited resources to excellent effect. It’s linked tangentially to a celebrated real-life murder (or was it?) case that played a major role in the United Kingdom’s eventual abolition of the death penalty.

Donald Houston as John Bradley.

John Bradley (Houston) served during WWII in the Royal Navy and continues his love affair with the sea by running a trawler with his wife Helen (Byron) and crew Jim (Grose) and Stan (uncredited). However, the business is failing fast and, having laid off the two crew members, he heads to London to try 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

Crow Hollow (1952)

UK / 67 minutes / bw / Merton Park, Eros Dir: Michael McCarthy Pr: William H. Williams Scr: Vivian Milroy Story: Crow Hollow (1950) by Dorothy Eden Cine: Robert LaPresle Cast: Donald Houston, Natasha Parry, Pat Owens, Esma Cannon, Nora Nicholson, Susan Richmond, Meadows White, Melissa Stribling, Penelope Munday, Ewen Solon, Denis Webb, Georgie Henschel, Gordon Bell, Janet Barrow, Norman Claridge, Doris Yorke.

Crow Hollow - 0 opener

Within days of their meeting, Dr. Robert “Bob” Armour (Houston) has proposed to and been accepted by Ann (Parry), and they marry almost immediately. They plan to live at Crow Hollow, Bob’s ancestral pile somewhere in the Home Counties, with Bob’s three elderly aunts. First, though, the young couple go to visit an aged family friend of Bob’s, Mrs. Wilson (Barrow), who’s ailing in hospital. Briefly alone with Ann, the dying Mrs. Wilson beseeches the young woman: “Don’t let him take you to Crow Hollow!” It’s a moment of high drama that, alas, doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the plot; luckily this is one of those points that doesn’t occur to you until later.

Ignoring the old woman’s warning—because otherwise there wouldn’t be a story—Bob and Ann go to Crow Hollow as planned. The place got its name because the valley in which the house stands used to be infested by crows, whose presence was regarded as bringing ill luck to the valley’s occupants. Then, about fifty years ago, the crows suddenly departed. It takes no genius to guess that, as the tale progresses, the crows will start returning . . .

Crow Hollow - 1 Judith welcomes Ann & Bob to CH

Aunt Judith (Esma Cannon) welcomes Ann (Natasha Parry) and Bob (Donald Houston) to Crow Hollow.

Already embedded in Crow Hollow are the three aunts, sisters of Bob’s late father, all three of whom greet Ann in their different ways, though Continue reading